COPPERAS COVE — The city of Copperas Cove is moving forward with a partnership that could help some residents lower their electric bills following a close vote by the City Council.
During council’s workshop session Tuesday night, council members heard a presentation from Daniel Nichols, who serves as director of community outreach for iChoosr. Nichols explained to the council that iChoosr works with local communities to try to lower electric rates for customers who can choose their own electricity plans, as some Copperas Cove residents can do because they are served by Oncor.
During the presentation, Nichols said 85% of Texas residents can choose their own electricity plans, but that 70% of them decide to stick with the same company year after year because they find it difficult to research the hundreds of different plans and rates available to them.
Nichols said his company gathers a group of electric customers in a community and contacts electric providers, asking them to bid on providing power to those customers through a reverse auction. iChoosr then offers the lower rate per kilowatt hour to their group.
Nichols emphasized several times that no one can be forced to join the program. A resident who is eligible would have to opt-in just to take part in the next rate auction. When the lowest rate is obtained, those who have opted-in don’t have to take it, but can explore all their options and choose whatever plan is right for them.
Council members had several questions about the program. Councilman Dan Yancey asked how the company made money when it was offering its services to cities and electric customers at no cost. Nichols said the company charged the companies who bid on their contracts a small amount for each kilowatt hour of energy sold.
Councilman Jay Manning felt making the agreement to help promote iChoosr would be tying the city’s hands, and he pointed out clauses in the proposed contract that he felt could cost the city money. Nichols explained that the only real cost to the city would be the man hours needed to set up information about Texas Power Switch on the city’s website. Otherwise, the company was only looking for the chance to promote the program to Copperas Cove residents.
During its regular meeting, the iChoosr proposal was brought up for a vote. The agenda item passed 4-3, with Yancey, Manning and Councilwoman Joann Courtland voting against it.
Nichols said after the meeting that he could understand why a city that still had negative feelings about problems with third-party water biller Fathom would be very leery of another utility partnership. Now that the agreement has been approved, iChoosr will wait for the contract with the city to take effect before beginning outreach efforts by mail.
More information on the Texas Power Switch program can be found on the company’s website, texaspowerswitch.com.