UNDERSTANDING MY BILL
Believing that an informed member makes informed decisions, and in order to serve our members better, SBEC has a billing format that will allow us to provide you with much more information on your electric service bill. Below you will find information about how to read your bill and more detailed information on how you are billed.
Notice of Billing Change:
Beginning in October of 2022, the G&T charge on your bill may fluctuate from month to month due to the volatility of natural gas prices, which affect our wholesale power cost.
Going forward, SBEC is working on providing our members with a spreadsheet with the month-to-month G&T rate. Please click on the link below that reads, "SBEC G&T Rate".
What is Wholesale Power Cost (G&T)?
The Generation and Transmission Charge or G&T Charge, as identified as a monthly line item on your San Bernard EC bill, reflects the cost of electricity SBEC purchases from our wholesale power provider, South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC).
Who controls the power market in Texas?
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) collectively manage the state’s power market. The PUCT is the regulating authority and ERCOT ensures there is enough power being generated to meet the demand of Texan consumers.
Why did the G&T rise?
The G&T Charge fluctuates as the price of natural gas changes. Recently, natural gas prices in the state of Texas and across the nation increased.
Why is the cost of natural gas so high and is that the only reason the G&T Charge went up?
There are several factors currently influencing natural gas prices and the G&T:
- The Texas Power Market began operating much more conservatively after the electricity shortage during Winter Storm Uri. ERCOT now holds more electricity in reserve to aid during times of disaster. Holding onto this extra power has a cost associated with it. However, the hope is it will be more stable for all of us in the future.
- European countries are currently banning the importation of natural gas from Russia, due to its invasion of Ukraine. As the largest natural gas-producing state in the U.S., Texas has been exporting natural gas to other countries at a higher price than what it would sell for here. This contributes to the decreased supply while in high demand.
- Due to Federal Regulations, drilling for natural gas has slowed down. While unable to harvest more natural gas, the shortage drives the price higher.
Is SBEC the only electric utility that is being affected?
No, electric utilities across the state of Texas are experiencing this rate increase. Even with the current increase of the G&T Charge, Texas’ electric rates are still comparable to the national average.
How long will this last?
The current Wholesale Power Cost (G&T Charge) Adjustment is not permanent. Because the charge fluctuates, as we continue to see changes in the power market, we will also see adjustments to the G&T.
How is San Bernard EC helping members during this time?
SBEC has programs in place to help manage your usage. We encourage all members to use SmartHub. Smarthub can be found on our website or downloaded as an app on your smartphone or tablet. The Usage Alert Feature allows you to set notifications if your daily usage exceeds your settings for high and low thresholds. Other options available are Average Monthly Payment and Prepaid billing. More information on these programs can be found on our website or you can call your local SBEC office. Members can also take advantage of an online or in-person home energy audit. For more information, please visit SBEC.ORG.
What can I do to help lower my electricity bill?
Changing your habits is the easiest way to lower your electric usage. Simple changes like raising your thermostat temperature setting to a comfortable level, using fans to circulate air, closing blinds, and unplugging electronics when not in use help conserve electricity. You may find other energy-saving tips and information on our website at https://www.sbec.org/efficiency-tips.
What if I need financial assistance?
We encourage members needing financial assistance to visit our website at https://www.sbec.org/bill-payment-assistance for a list of local, community-based organizations that help individuals facing financial difficulty with their electric bills.
WHAT'S A KWH?
You know your lights and television work, and you get a bill every month, but do you actually know how your electricity is measured?
It's fairly simple, really. Electricity is measured in units of power called watts. Like pennies, watts are pretty small. For most purposes, electricity is measured in kilowatts or 1000-watt units. The watt or kilowatt rating on electric devices - such as light bulbs - tells you how much electricity it requires. The higher the rating, the more electricity it uses.
The number of watts used is then multiplied by the number of hours of use, and the result is expressed in kilowatt-hours -- or kWh.