Why Google Scares People

No matter how hard it tries, it seems Google can’t help frightening people. Even its famous “Don’t be evil” policy might scare someone who believes the company’s power or its profits are somehow nefarious.

It may be Google’s business model, rather than anything about the company itself, that gives the public the willies. Google is the undisputed champion at what the MBAs call “monetizing content:” selling advertising to accompany pictures or words. But the content Google monetizes is not, for the most part, its own; it is the stuff other people create and put on the internet. This is not news to anyone, nor is it unique to Google. Yet Google’s scale and scope when combined with its way of making money, which can feel like the exploitation of someone else’s efforts, don’t engender a lot of trust, regardless of the purity of the company’s motives.

A lot of people worked themselves into a lather over new privacy rules that Google rolled out at the beginning of this month. The new policy collapsed all Google services into one, overarching privacy statement. (Google Books, Chrome and Wallet, while consistent with this policy, will maintain additional, separate policies, linked at the bottom of the webpage.) Grouping its products together will offer a more seamless and useful experience for users, according to Google. It will also mean more effective targeting for advertisers.

Some find it unnerving that Google will now group a user’s search history with his YouTube viewing habits, or connect her interests on Google+ to the material she looks at on Google Maps. Responses in the days before the changeover ranged from the reasonable to the slightly panicked.

The widespread jumpiness seems somewhat contrary, considering that many of the people complaining freely share their comments, activities, interests and photos with a broad circle of friends and acquaintances via social networking.

Google tried to avoid repeating missteps that it and other companies, including Facebook, have made in the past. Google took pains to make the policy changes, and the implementation timeline, very clear. Should you choose to discontinue any or all of its services, Google itself will point you to The Data Liberation Front, which will help you migrate data out of (as well as into) various Google products. After the debacle of Google Buzz, Google has every reason to want to rebuild user trust.

But that goal may be harder to reach for Google than for other businesses. Many users’ doubts may be subconscious, but they have reason to wonder whether Google, which exploits commercial content to make its money, wants to exploit private data in a similar way.

Yet we put aside those concerns for commercial reasons, as well as for private ones. This column, like all the content on my firm’s website, will be indexed by Google, and may be picked up by the Google News service. Google will sell ads to accompany my work. I won’t get paid directly for writing this opus, but Google very well may make a little money off my efforts.

I enter into this transaction willingly. I want Google to distribute my work because I want to expand my circle of contacts and to stay in touch with those who already know me. Colleagues, friends, clients, strangers – if they think what I have to say is worth knowing, Google will help them find it. That’s my indirect reward.

Personal Google users make the same bargain. We let Google sell targeted ads to accompany our searches, videos and maps, in part because we value the service Google provides, and in part because those ads themselves often give us valuable information. If nobody ever responded to ads on Google, the company would have gone out of business long ago. When I say that Google’s business model gives people a mild sense of the creeps, I don’t mean that the model is intrinsically creepy – though it certainly has been disruptive to all sorts of media companies whose business is to monetize their own content.

If you were already comfortable with Google tracking your search history so it could facilitate your future searches, show you advertisements of potential interest, or just because the idea of Google tracking your search history didn’t bother you, then I doubt you have much reason to care whether Google similarly uses that search history to locate maps or YouTube videos you might want to see.

Some might even welcome the change. Such tracking capabilities can be time savers and life enhancers. Netflix, for example, keeps track of the films and TV shows I watch, and asks me to tell it which ones I particularly liked. As a result, Netflix has been able to recommend many titles that I have enjoyed, and which I would never have found on my own.

By all means, if you don’t want Google tracking your activities, turn that feature off. (Though Google will always track you to some degree, there are a variety of was to disconnect that tracking from your online identity.) However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s advice that everyone turn off such tracking seems overwrought and pointless. Most people just don’t care, nor do they have any reason to care, about whether Google collates the information it already gathers. These users may even actively choose to keep their tracking enabled, in order to reap the fullest benefits of Google’s technology.

Internet users widely seem to be growing savvier about who they share with and how. A recent study from the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project suggests that users are paying closer attention to who they friend, and making more of their social media use private to those friends that remain. (1) Educating yourself about who can see information about you online and how is all to the good.

Of course, if you routinely sign into a Google account, my guess is that you probably do so because you are a Gmail user. Think of all the private, personal information that is contained in the text of your emails, which you willingly let Google hold and store for you. If you trust Google with that much of your life already, adding your YouTube habits is probably not that big of a deal. If you trust Google to use your data only in the ways it says it will, then whether it keeps that data scattered across services or condensed in one place won’t have a big impact in the long run. Saying all of that, we have to give it to Google for allowing such a massive amount of features and tools to be used free of charge. If you want to learn more about Google or perhapsĀ make google your homepage then visitĀ makegooglemyhomepage.org

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6925669

Reconditioned Electrical Equipment Can Be Safe, Reliable and Sustainable

Just about every product in the world has two main markets: one for new product, and a second market for used sometimes referred to as surplus, reconditioned, rebuilt or remanufactured product.

Cars, computers, jewelry, and electronics are just a few examples of thriving industries that trade in used goods. The commercial and industrial electrical supply markets are no exception.

Electrical equipment, like automobiles and industrial machinery, are designed to last decades. However, like other durable goods, electrical equipment can be dangerous to the inexperienced whether it is new or used product. The confluence of these two facts means that product safety not just availability is critical to a healthy electrical marketplace.

In 1908, the National Association of Electrical Distributors was formed to “establish the electrical distributor as an essential force in the electrical industry and economy,” followed by the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) in 1926. These venerable associations eventually expanded to include educational programs and standards to help improve the operations and safety of the electrical supply chain with a focus on new product from electrical Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). During the next 50 years, two other associations emerged to help service the used and installed base of electrical equipment. The Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA) focused on rewinding standards for electric motors, while the InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA) offered guidance, education, and certification for field-testing electrical equipment. But it wasn’t until 1996 that a group of independent electrical distributors joined forces to promote the reconditioning of industrial electrical product. The Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League (PEARL) is the only trade association that offers technical reconditioning standards for industrial electrical product, a code of ethics, ongoing education, site and technician certification, and best practices. Today, PEARL’s corporate membership has grown to more than 70 independent electrical resellers with revenues in excess of $500 million each year.

Why Do We Need Used Electrical Equipment?

Why does a secondary, or “out of channel” market for electrical equipment exist? It exists for the same reason that electrical OEMs and wholesale distributors exist – supply and demand.

Consider a manufacturing plant that has a failed component in a critical electrical service. A new replacement component is not available from the manufacturer and distributors for weeks, months, or worse, not at all. So what is the plant to do?

How about the power generating station that distributes electricity through a vintage – but perfectly serviceable – 15kv switchgear built in 1959. The station needs to upgrade their integral tie breaker from 2000A to 3000A to keep up with escalating demand.

The most cost effective (and practical) way to upgrade the service is to replace the tie breaker with one of similar vintage and design, but with the higher current rating. Unfortunately, primary supply channels stopped stocking this product 30 years ago.

What about the new office building that is falling further and further behind schedule waiting for a certain size and type of conduit or conduit fittings, only to discover weeks past the original delivery date that the material is on backorder with no estimated time of delivery?

Each of these cases represents need-it-now demand for electrical products – critical demand from the customers’ perspectives. Enter the secondary electrical supply house. They’ve acquired and warehoused hard-to-find electrical product for just these types of situation. However, even when the replacement component is located, the question remains: How safe is the replacement?

The only way to answer the “safety” question is to validate the component through acceptance testing, and when necessary, recondition the component to meet or exceed the product’s original performance specifications, or upgrade the component with newer technologies that exceed the original specification.

This is where a knowledgeable secondary channel for electrical product performs a valuable and necessary service, particularly as OEMs continue to adopt ‘lean’ manufacturing processes that extend lead times for many pieces of electrical equipment.

To answer this demand, independent resellers of new, surplus, and reconditioned electrical products have acquired massive inventories of electrical service equipment from closed industrial plants, scaled-back construction projects, and electrical distributors themselves when OEMs discontinue or change product lines. Unlike OEMs and franchise electrical distributors, these independent electrical distributors hold inventory much longer than the primary channel so that when customers need a component for expansion or replacement, the device is available and the customer can get back to business.

IER is a UL approved shop and OEM partners with several of the top Electrical Equipment manufactures. See our site for more information or to request a quote.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7351110

How to Protect Your Electronics From Electrical Surge Events

In this modern world, we have become very dependent upon our electronic gadgets. We use personal computers to work, communicate with friends, family members or business associates.

We often times store valuable files (such as financial documents, memos, reports, *.mp3 files, and now we also store important personal pictures) onto the Hard Drives of our Computers.

We use the following electronic systems to entertain, educate, enlighten and comfort us.

  • DVD Players
  • HDTVs (e.g., LCD and Plasma)
  • Video Recording Equipment (for those of you upload your videos on to YouTube)
  • Gaming Systems (e.g., Nintendo, Wii, X-Box, etc.)
  • Central Air Conditioning System, Heat Pumps
  • Microwave Ovens

These and other electronics gadgets require a significant investment to obtain in the first place; and are very expensive to repair and/or replace.

And yet, amazingly, we do very little to protect our electronics from damage or attempt to make them last (and serve us) longer.

This article is one of a series of three (3) articles that discusses how to protect your electronics against the following destructive mechanisms that shorten its operating life.

Heat
Electrical Surge/Spike Events, and
Electrical Noise

In this particular article, we are going to talk about “Electrical Surge/Spike Events”.

In particular, we are going to discuss the following topics associated with “Electrical Surge/Spike Events”.

What are Electrical Surge/Spike Events and How are they generated?

How do you protect your electronics from Electrical Surge/Spike Events?

What are some guidelines that you should use when selecting a Surge Protector?

2.0 WHAT ARE ELECTRICAL SURGE/SPIKE EVENTS?

Electrical Surge/Spike events are typically defined as a “large current/voltage transients that occurs in an electrical signal or the power-line”.

Surge events typically last for a few microseconds and are then gone. Similarly, spike events will typically last for a few nanoseconds and are then gone.

NOTES:

a. 1 microsecond = 1 millionth of a second, and
b. 1 nanosecond = 1 billionth of a second.

Both electrical surge and spike events can cause considerable damage to any electronic systems that are electrically connected to these power-line or signal-lines that are carrying this transient current and voltage.

For a typical person that lives in a home and own some consumer electronics, electrical surge/spike events can fall into one of two categories.

External Surge/Spike Events, and
Internal Surge/Spike Events

I will briefly define each of these types of Surge/Spike events below.

2.1 EXTERNAL ELECTRICAL SURGE/SPIKE EVENTS

External Surge/Spike events are called “External” because they occur “External” to (or outside of) your home.

External Surge/Spike events typically originate from one of two sources.

Lightning Strikes (during an Electrical/Thunderstorm), and
Switching events within the Electrical Grid

External Surge/Spike events tend to be very large and damaging (especially if they originate from lightning strikes).

If these external surge/spike events were to enter your home (via the main power line and through the circuit breaker panel), they will destroy pretty much any piece of electronics that is connected to an electrical outlet in your home.

NOTE: These pieces of electronics do not need to be powered on to be destroyed.

They only need to be plugged into an outlet in your home at the time when this catastrophic electrical surge/spike event occurs.

Fortunately, the External Electrical Surge/Spike events do not occur very often (e.g., a few times a year depending upon what part of the world you live in).

2.2 INTERNAL ELECTRICAL SURGE/SPIKE EVENTS

Internal Surge/Spike Events (as the name implies) are generated “internal” (or within your home).

Internal Surges/Spike events typically occur whenever the motor or an appliance (such as an Air Conditioner or the Refrigerator turns ON or OFF).

Internal Surge/Spike events tend to be much smaller than External Surge/Spike events.

However, Internal Surge/Spike events occur much more often than do External Surge/Spike events (several times a day).

Over time, these smaller (though more frequent) internal surge/spike events will do damage to your electronics as well.

Each time a motor of an appliance (such as an Air Conditioner or a Refrigerator) requires surge current (for it to turn on), or anytime the magnetic field (within the motor of an appliance collapses) whenever it is turned OFF, a damaging surge or spike is generated and can propagate throughout some of the power supply lines in your home.

Internal surge events will shorten the operating life of any electronic gadget that is plugged into an electrical outlet in your home.

NOTE: The electronics gadget does not need to be powered ON for it to sustain some damage from these internal surge/spike events.

3.0 HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ELECTRONICS FROM ELECTRICAL SURGE/SPIKE EVENTS

One of the most common ways of protecting many of your electronics from damage (due to electrical surge/spike events) is through the use of “power strips” that contain “surge protection” circuitry within them.

Many power strips have surge protection built in, and in most cases, these types of power strips are clearly marked to reflect this.

CAUTION:

There are some power strips that do not provide surge protection for your electronics.

Often times, people will still (incorrectly) refer to these products as “surge protectors”.

If you are looking to purchase a Power strip that contains “Surge Protection” circuitry, make sure that the labeling (on the box that you have in your hands) clearly indicates “Surge protection” or something like that.

If you cannot quickly find those words on the box, then I recommend that you put that Power-Strip box back on the shelf and go find a Power-Strip that has “Surge Protection” clearly marked on it.

3.1 HOW DO SURGE PROTECTORS WORK?

Surge Protector circuitry typically works by having devices (like an MOV – Metal Oxide Varistor) that “sits” between the “power-line” path and electrical ground within the power strip.

Many Surge Protectors will have several of these MOV devices in order to make them more robust.

Under normal operation, these MOV devices will do nothing at all and do not affect the operation of your appliances or electronic systems.

For you electrical engineers out there, I will tell you that these MOV devices presents a very high impedance between the “power-line” and “electrical ground”.

If a surge event occurs such that the “power-line voltage” exceeds a certain “threshold” voltage level, then the MOV devices will start to conduct current (and will then present a very low impedance path) between the “power-line” and “electrical ground”.

At this point, all of this excessive energy (from the electrical surge event) will be “routed” through the MOV devices (to electrical ground) and will be diverted away from your valuable electronics.

Once the “power-line voltage” returns to a normal level, the MOV devices will then return to their “high-impedance” state and will cease to conduct current between the power-line and electrical ground.

3.2 SHOULD YOU USE SURGE PROTECTORS FOR EVERY ELECTRONIC SYSTEM/ELECTRICAL APPLIANCE IN THE HOME?

In general, you should use surge protectors on all sensitive electronics that you would like to keep and use for some period of time.

If you have Surge Protectors for each of your sensitive electronics, then they will do a very good job protecting your electronics, for the duration that they (the Surge Protectors) function.

3.3 WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT I SHOULD LOOK FOR WHEN SHOPPING AROUND FOR SURGE PROTECTORS IN MY HOME?

In general, you should look for the following parameters/metrics whenever you are shopping around for Surge Protectors.

Clamping/Let-Through Voltage
Joules Rating
Response Time (if available)

I will explain each of these items below.

3.3.1 Clamping Voltage:

The “Clamping Voltage” level is also (often times) referred to as the “Let-Through Voltage” level.

Basically, this is the voltage level that will cause the MOVs (inside the Surge Protect system/Power-Strip) to conduct electrical current between the “power-line” and Electrical Ground.

At this voltage level, the Surge Protector will start to shunt the destructive electrical energy (from an incoming surge event) to Electrical Ground and will divert it away from your valuable electronics.

As I mentioned before, the MOVs will continue to shunt electrical current (from the power line) to Ground for the duration that the “Power-Line Voltage exceeds this “Clamping” or “Let-Through” Voltage level.

In general, the lower the “Clamping” or “Let Through” Voltage level the better the protection for your electronics.

Typical values for “Clamping” or “Let Through” voltage level are 330V, 400V, or 500V.

For 120V AC applications, I recommend that you use a Surge Protector with a Clamping Voltage level of 330V.

3.3.2 The Joules Rating

The “Joules” Rating for a Surge Protector will typically define the cumulative amount of energy that it (the Surge Protector) can absorb (throughout its operating life-time) without failing.

In general, the higher the number, the longer the Surge Protector will last and continue to protect your electronics.

Good Surge Protectors are ones that have a “Joules Rating” of 1000J or better.

NOTE: The “Joule” Rating does not reflect the total amount of electrical energy that the Surge Protector will shunt (to Electrical Ground) before failing.

The “Joule” Rating reflects the amount of energy that the components (mostly the MOVs) within the Surge Protector can absorb without failing.

In most cases, whenever an MOV shunts excessive voltage and current to ground (during a Surge Event), it (the MOV) is only absorbing a fraction of this energy.

Most of this energy is “being dumped” to Electrical Ground.

If your Surge Protector is properly installed, then for every joule absorbed by the components (inside the Surge Protector) another 4 to 30 joules was harmlessly shunted from the Power-line to Electrical Ground.

However, each time your Surge Protector responds to a surge event, the MOV devices do absorb some energy, and the cumulative amount of energy that these devices have absorbed moves closer and closer to the “Joules Rating” number and “failure”.

3.3.3 Response Time

Surge Protectors do not respond immediately to Surge Events.

There is a slight delay (or response time) before they respond.

The longer this response time, the longer your electronics sits exposed to the incoming surge event. Fortunately, most surge events do not happen immediately either. Most surge events take several microseconds before they reach their peak voltage.

By that time, most Surge Protection schemes (especially those using MOVs) will “kick in” within nanoseconds after the voltage level has exceeded the “Let Through” Voltage.

3.4 DO SURGE PROTECTORS LAST FOREVER?

Just like the smell of a brand new car, Surge Protectors do not last forever.

As these MOVs respond to Surge Events and “shunt electrical energy to ground” over time, they absorb some of that energy.

This process causes “degradation” and “wear and tear” on the MOV devices (and in-turn) on the Surge Protectors as a whole.

Eventually these MOVs will fail in one of two ways.

a. The MOVs will fail to the point that they will no longer shunt excessive electrical energy to ground. In this case, the MOVs (are said to fail in an “Open” state).

Whenever this occurs, all of your precious electronics that is “downstream” from your Surge Protector are now “officially” un-protected and are now vulnerable to the next surge event that comes around.

b. At least one MOV device will fail into a “Short Circuited” Mode. In this case, the MOVs may (though rarely) fail in the “Short Circuit” state.

Whenever this happens, the “failed” MOV device would continue to conduct high currents (from the Power-line to Electrical Ground) even when the power-line voltage is less than the “Let Through” voltage.

This type of failure mode could be very dangerous.

Fortunately, most Surge Protectors will typically have a fuse that will “blow” and will turn OFF the Surge Protector entirely, rather than risk catching on fire.

The main message here is this. Internal Surge Events occur many times throughout the day.

As these events occur, and as your Surge Protectors continue to function and shunt the excessive electrical energy to ground, these Surge Protectors eventually wear out and will need to be replaced.

SOME GUIDELINES ON WHEN TO REPLACE SURGE PROTECTORS:

You should replace your Surge Protectors under the following conditions.

1. Whenever the Green “Protected” Light (on the Surge Protector itself) goes OUT.

2. If you’ve owned your Surge Protector for more than 3 years.

NOTE: Having the Green Light ON is encouraging but is not a guarantee of adequate protection for the next surge events.

Replacing your Surge Protectors every three years is a good practice to keep your electronics protected.

4.0 OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

In this article we have discussed one of the three main enemies of electronics and how they shorten the operating life of electronics and cost you money.

Other articles in this series are listed below.

How to Protect Your Electronics from Heat, and
How to Protect Your Electronics from Electrical Noise

5.0 CONCLUSIONS

In this particular article, we discussed Electrical Surge/Spike Events. As we discussed this “enemy of your electronics”, we covered the following topics.

What are the Electrical Surge/Spike Events? What are their causes? How can we protect our electronics from the affects of Electrical Surge/Spike Events?

In this article we concluded the following.

  • That using Surge Protectors is a necessity to keeping your electronics running and serving you.
  • That many people think that Power Strips are Surge Protectors – This is NOT True.
  • People should read the labels and make sure that the Power Strips that they have in their hands also (and clearly) states “Surge Protection”.
  • That Surge Protectors wear out with use and (over time) will lose their ability to protect your electronics from damage due to Electrical Surge/Spike events.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4018978

Are You Paying Too Much On Your Electric Bill?

Texas is leading the nation in Energy Deregulation. Because of the planning and implementation of a very efficient Energy Deregulation and Operating System by the Texas Legislature, Texans can now enjoy the benefits of competition. Texas created the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The mission of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is to direct and ensure reliable and cost-effective operation of the electric grid and to enable fair and efficient market-driven solutions to meet customers’ electric service needs.

The ERCOT grid covers approximately 75 percent of the land area in Texas.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to approximately 20 million Texas customers – representing 85 percent of the state’s electric load and 75 percent of the Texas land area.

As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects 38,000 miles of transmission lines and more than 500 generation units.

ERCOT also manages financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers customer switching for 5.9 million Texans in competitive choice areas.

Balanced market rules are a basic element in Texas competition. Clear, predictable and well-designed rules help foster a stable electricity market. Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market rules are developed by participants from all aspects of the electricity industry. The rules and amendments are reviewed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure that they satisfy the public interest.

WHY COMPETITION?

Texas lawmakers changed state law to allow customers to have more control over their purchase of electric service because they believe competition is good for Texas. Over time, competition for electric service is expected to lower rates and speed the development of new products and services.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

In the past, one company provided all parts of your electric service (generation, transmission and distribution, and retail sales). With competition, these parts are separated into different companies. Generation, or production of electricity, was deregulated in 1995, resulting in an ample supply of new, cleaner and more efficient power plants throughout Texas.
The actual delivery of electricity across poles and wires to your home is called transmission and distribution. These services are provided to you by your local wires company, which is responsible for maintaining the poles and wires, and responding to emergencies and power outages as always. The Public Utility Commission continues to regulate transmission and distribution to ensure the safety and reliability of your electric service.
With electric competition, Retail Electric Providers sell electricity to you and provide functions such as customer service and billing. Retail Electric Providers compete for your business by offering lower prices, renewable energy options, added customer service benefits or other incentives.
No matter which Retail Electric Provider provides your service, the Public Utility Commission continues to enforce customer protections and regulate the delivery of electricity to ensure it is delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company .

Competition also is expected to create new jobs, stimulate economic development and help our environment.

CUSTOMER RIGHTS

All Retail Electric Providers must adhere to Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) rules and regulations designed to protect you against fraudulent, unfair, misleading, discriminatory or anti-competitive practices.

These protections include:

Non-Discrimination: In addition to standard discrimination prohibitions, a Retail Electric Provider may not deny service or discriminate in the marketing of electric service based on a customer’s income level, location in an economically distressed area, or qualification for low-income or energy efficiency services.

Slamming and Cramming: Slamming is switching your electric service provider without your permission. Cramming is adding charges to your electric bill for additional services without your permission. Both slamming and cramming are illegal.

Dispute Resolution: Retail Electric Providers must promptly investigate customer complaints and customers have the right to make complaints about a Retail Electric Provider to the PUC.

Privacy of Information: No Retail Electric Provider can release any customer-specific information to another Retail Electric Provider or any other companies without your permission.

Safety and Reliability: No matter which Retail Electric Provider you choose, the Public Utility Commission continues to enforce customer protections and regulate the delivery of electricity to ensure it is delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company.

DELIVERY OF ELECTRICITY

When you choose a new electric provider, you are choosing the company that provides or sells you electricity – a company called a Retail Electric Provider. These companies purchase electricity from competing power plants, and electricity is delivered to your home or business over the same poles and wires that are in your neighborhood today.
The actual delivery of the electricity (“transmission and distribution”) is still provided by your local utility, now called a local wires company. In a competitive electric market, your local wires company will continue to be responsible for maintaining the poles and wires that deliver electricity to your home or business. You and your neighbors can all have different Retail Electric Providers, but you all have the same local wires company.
An important message from the Commissioners regarding Electric Choice and the reliability of your electric service. – 01/05

REPAIRS AND EMERGENCIES

If you experience an emergency or power outage, you may call:
Your Retail Electric Provider, who will work with the local wires company to repair the problem, or connect you to your local wires company.
The number for repairs and emergencies printed on your electric bill.
Your local wires company as you do today.

KHOU-TV CH-11 NEWS

HOUSTON, TEXAS (June 6, 2006 Transcript)

Families across our area can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars if they would only switch to an
energy provider that charges less. But you know what, most people just won’t switch and we’ve wondered
why. 11 News reporter Jeremy Diesel shows us what he’s uncovered. You have the power to choose.
Power that can literally save you hundreds of dollars a year on your bill. But in the four years since electricity deregulation began in Texas only a little more than 25% of people in the Houston area have left Reliant Energy, even though the price it’s forced to charge is generally the highest.

Minnie Lee Coleman is like so many others. ” If it gets unbearable here I will cut it off and just sacrifice
something else to pay my electric bill. Because paying half and part I don’t do that.” Last night she told
us she’s willing to sacrifice. But not willing to leave Reliant for a cheaper price. “I don’t trust them. And
that’s it.”

But why?

Houston Mayor Bill White is hoping to educate. “They should not question reliability as far as keeping
the lights on or what happens if there is a storm — who is going to turn back on the power.”
Here’s the deal, when deregulation happened five years ago, Reliant Energy divided into two completely
separate companies. Reliant which sells power and Centerpoint which delivers it. CenterPoint
owns the lines which carry power, maintain them and reads the meter no matter who your power
provider is.

Come storm time, its CenterPoint which restores power to those who lose it. Not the power provider
you pay. All of the power companies Reliant, TXU, Green Mountain, Commerce and more than a dozen
others all put their power on the Texas grid. Its then used by everyone. Your meter read by CenterPoint
shows the amount you used. CenterPoint forwards that information to your provider who bills you.
“Who you buy your power from does not affect the reliability of that power. But it can affect your
bottom line.

Questions – General
Q: What has stayed the same in electric service?

A: Your current Transmission and Distribution Utility, or “local wires company,” continues to deliver electricity to your home. Your local wires company still responds to service interruptions and continues to maintain the poles and wires. You will continue to receive the same reliable service you are used to with your local wires company, regardless of which Retail Electric Provider you receive service from.

Q: What has changed in electric service?

A: You can now choose to buy your electricity from a different electric provider than the original provider for your area. These companies are called Retail Electric Providers. Additionally, your bill now looks different than bills you have received in the past, but each Retail Electric Provider provides the same standard information.

Q: Do all Texans have the power to choose their electric provider?

A: No. City-owned utilities and member-owned electric cooperatives have the option of giving their customers a choice of providers, or keeping things the way they are today. To see if competition is active in your area call toll-free 1-866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839).

Q: What are the benefits of Electric Choice?

A: Texas’ electric rates are average, compared to the rest of the country, but our usage is among the highest in the nation due to demand for air conditioning during the long, hot summer season. Competition in other industries has often brought lower prices and innovative, new products and services. Having more control over your buying decision should make it easier to determine what matters most to you, whether it’s prices, renewable energy, customer service, or simply a name you know.
Electric competition also should help the environment because Retail Electric Providers must offer some energy from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy – such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass (gas released from landfills) – produce less air pollution than sources that rely on burning coal or natural gas.
The Texas power market is one of the most attractive in the country for new investment. Forty-seven new power plants have been built or are being built in Texas since 1995 (that’s almost one-fourth of all power plants being built or planned in the nation). The properties represent a $10 billion investment in Texas. These plants provide jobs and sales and tax revenue into local Texas communities.

Q: How does Electric Choice affect electric rates?

A: The base rates for residential and small commercial customers of investor-owned utilities in Texas were frozen from September 1, 1999, to December 31, 2002. On January 1, 2002, rates for most of these customers were lowered, creating the “Price to Beat.” The Affiliate Retail Electric Provider cannot charge above this rate until it loses 40 percent of its customers or five years pass, whichever comes first.

Q: If electric rates are frozen, why does my electric bill rise?

A: Texas law allows the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider (the electric provider that was part of the original electric company that generated and sold electricity in your area, that now only sells electricity) to ask the PUC to adjust the “fuel factor” portion of its rate when there are significant changes in the market price of natural gas and purchased energy. These requests, which may be made twice a year, are subject to PUC review and approval. The cost of natural gas has increased significantly over the last year, and fuel factors have been increased to reflect the higher cost of natural gas. For more information on how natural gas prices change please review Questions and Answers Regarding Natural Gas Prices.
The Affiliate Retail Electric Provider is prohibited from making a profit on fuel costs. Competitive (or new to the area) Retail Electric Providers set their own electric service rates.

Q: With competition, will the reliability of my electric service change?

A: No. No matter which Retail Electric Provider you choose, your electricity will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company, a company still regulated by the PUC.

Q: How does the new competition law protect the environment?

A: The law requires “grandfathered” power plants (those that predate the 1971 Texas Clean Air Act) to reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions by at least 50 percent and sulfur dioxide by 25 percent before May 1, 2003.
Encourages upgrade or retirement of older power plants to meet emissions standards by allowing utilities to recoup the costs of retrofitting or retiring certain older power plants.
Provides incentives for energy efficiency programs that will result in less demand for the production of electricity.
Requires retail electric providers to buy an additional combined 2,000 megawatts of Texas renewable electric generation capacity statewide by January 2009, from sources that include wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass or geothermal.

Q: Do I have to switch from my current electric utility?

A: No. If you decide not to choose a new Retail Electric Provider, your service will be provided by the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider. The Affiliate Retail Electric Provider is the electric provider that was part of the original electric company that generated and sold electricity in your area, that now only sells electricity and provides customer service.

Questions – Changing Providers

Q: Is there a penalty for changing providers?

A: There is no switching fee unless you request a special meter reading at a time other than your regularly scheduled meter reading. There may also be penalties if you break an existing contract with your current Retail Electric Provider. Review your Terms of Service agreement for details.

Q: If I sign up with a new Retail Electric Provider, when will the switch to that company happen?

A: Customers can choose a Retail Electric Provider at any time; however, you will not begin to receive power from your new Retail Electric Provider until after your next regularly scheduled meter reading. Before you are switched, you will receive written confirmation in the mail. You will receive your first electric bill from your new Retail Electric Provider on the following billing cycle.

Q: Do I have a right to cancel?

A: Yes. You may cancel within three days from when you receive your Terms of Service agreement by contacting the Retail Electric Provider. If you are hand-delivered a terms of service agreement or you sign up for service using the Internet, there is a three-day cancellation period. The confirmation that will be mailed to you will also provide a way to cancel your switch.

Q: What happens if my Retail Electric Provider stops serving customers?

A: You will not be without electricity. Your Retail Electric Provider must give you 30 days’ advance notice to give you time to select a new provider. However, if you do not choose a new provider, your service will automatically be switched to the Provider of Last Resort for your area.

Q: If I do not choose an electric provider, who will supply my electricity?

A: If you decided not to choose a new Retail Electric Provider, your service is being provided by the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider. The Affiliate Retail Electric Provider is the electric provider that was part of the original electric company that generated and sold electricity in your area, that now only sells electricity and provides customer service.

Questions – Why is Texas different from California

Although Texas and California have similarly sized electric grids and similar growth in power demand, Texas put more than eight times the capacity online between 1996 and 1999 than California added.
The Texas power plant permitting process has a lead-time of two to three years to construct new power plants, while California’s lead-time is approximately seven years. Since 1995, 47 new power plants have been built or are being built in Texas, representing one-fourth of all power plants being built in the nation. California has built only two power plants since 1995.
New plant construction will allow power generators to easily meet the needs of residential and non-residential power users in our state.

Texas imports less than 1 percent of its power during peak power demand, compared to California, which imports at least 25 percent of its load during peak demand.
Long-term wholesale market contracts in Texas shield customers from price volatility. In Texas, power generators and Retail Electric Providers can negotiate wholesale power purchases for the lowest price, which benefits customers.

Texas enacted strong measures to protect customers during the transition to a fully competitive retail electric market. These measures have kept a lid on electric rates so Texas electric customers won’t see their electric bill double or triple.

You have a choice and now is the time to take control of your New Energy Options.

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