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Houstonians paid 9.4 percent more for power last year

By: L.M. Sixel |

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Houston-area residents paid 9.4 percent more for electricity in November compared with a year earlier, reflecting fears of shortages in the wholesale electricity market that drove up power prices.

The market was concerned whether there were enough supplies of electricity, especially after some coal-fired power plants were retired last year, said Trent Crow, founder of Houston-based Real Simple Energy, a website that searches for the cheapest electricity plans. The shortages never materialized, thanks to an abundance of cheap wind from West Texas, but consumers who locked in one-year contracts during the summer ended up paying more.

Electricity rates spiked last summer, at one point rising 45 percent higher than they were the previous summer, according to Crow, who has created his own price tracking index. Rates began to come back down mid-July, he said, but they were still higher than they were a year earlier.

Electricity prices in Houston increased 0.3 percent in November compared with the previous month, the bureau reported.