First Choice Power has been an energy staple in Texas for more than 70 years. In 2011, First Choice Power was acquired by Direct Energy, one of the regional powerhouses, but First Choice Power continues to retain its own unique energy plans and customer offerings. With a marketing angle targeted at young professionals, First Choice Power has branded itself as the "cool" energy company that offers low rates, freedom of choice, and friendly vibes. And for "freedom-loving folks" they definitely deliver with a wide range of terms and/or prepaid plans, which is perhaps one of their strongest selling points when compared to other energy companies.
- Flexible Plans
- Online Account Manager
Many deregulated energy companies exclusively offer plans on 12 and 24-month terms. And while some do have shorter terms, or even month-to-month rates, First Choice Energy is one of the only companies that offers all of these options plus a prepaid energy option. With the prepaid energy option, customers are able to choose between a Free Weekends prepaid plan or the Variable prepaid plan. With either of these plans, customers can avoid a long-term contract, deposit, and even a credit check.
Following the 60-days of being on the prepaid energy plan, customers are able to switch to a special fixed-rate electricity plan, if they so wish. Customers who switch are also able to do so without a deposit, with what First Choice Energy calls "Deposit Freedom."
Online Account Manager
Resonating with their key market of young Texas professionals, First Choice Power provides an intuitive online experience for managing a customer's energy profile. This includes usage rates, bill pay, support, and many other online services. With the analytics report in their online account manager, customers can go deeper into energy efficiency and how to save not only electricity but also reduce the cost of their bill.
- Higher Rates
- Lack of Renewable Options
With the added flexibility of their prepaid and month-to-month plans, First Choice Energy focuses more on offering its customers freedom from a long-term contract and less on providing the most competitive rates. Their advertised rates are all based on a monthly usage of 2,000 kWh, with higher rates for not using that much energy. This is more than double the average monthly kWh use in the United States. So for smaller households, the rate a customer receives will not necessarily be the rate first advertised to them.
Customers who choose the 12- or 24-month fixed-rate plans can receive a more competitive rate than the other plan offerings from First Choice Energy, but this, again, is based on larger energy consumption than the average U.S. household.
Lack of Renewable Options
Another area where First Choice Power is lacking is renewable energy. There is a glaring lack of green options for customers of First Choice Power, and by glaring lack, we mean there are none whatsoever (or at least they are not advertised).
And while they do not offer dedicated green energy plans, some energy plans, according to the state average, can include as much as 10-12% green energy. Customers should make sure to ask this when signing up, as it is not clearly stated in any of First Choice Energy's marketing materials or green energy blog content, nor are plans to add renewable energy in the future.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, customers who are looking for added flexibility, short-term energy service, or want a no-credit check prepaid utility service may want to consider First Choice Energy. Its unique offering of truly flexible plans can be a great option for some. The lack of competitive rates, a pricing model based on double the national energy use average, and a marketing plan primed solely for young professionals may not appeal to everyone, and their regional competitors may be a good alternative if a long-term or green energy plan is desired.