You are probably like, “this site totally read my mind!” Well this is a common question and the easiest answer to this is simply to contact the electric utility in your area also referred to as the pole and wires company.
In Dallas and North and East Texas areas the pole and wires company is Oncor Electric Delivery and in Houston and surrounding area it is Centerpoint Energy. There are a million other cities, states and electric utilities out there so you will need to check for your area if you are not in these two places I mentioned.
The pole and wires company ultimately has the final authority and ability to make a switch happen or to turn on new service. The Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have created a beautiful system that makes it so that all switches must go through one clearing house that decides when it is okay to turn on electricity.
For instance, in an apartment lease situation when someone leaves the apartment often times the apartment complex will leave the electric service on in the apartment companies name. When a new tenant arrives the apartment manager asks for the tenant to request electric service to be turned on by calling an electric provider.
The apartment manager will likely ask the tenant to take down the new account number you are given when requesting electric service to be turned on.
The reason the leasing facility asks you to hurry and do this and provide a number is because of how switch requests work. When you order electric service you end up sending in an electronic flag in the ERCOT system that puts you in the queue ahead of any request to have electricity shut off.
So for instance if you get your order in and let the leasing manager know this, the manager will usually call up their electric company that has service on in their companies name and cancel service.
What happens next is that the way the queue is setup with ERCOT and displayed to the pole and wires company the pole company knows to keep the service turned on but simply switch the new tenant over to the provider they have chosen and out of the name of the leasing company and whatever provider the leasing company was using.
By having a computerized system like this it avoids someone requesting electric service for their new apartment only to have it switched off because the leasing manager requested to have service turned off in their name. It would then take about 2 days to have service reinstated in the new account.
Now if the tenant said they ordered service but didn’t and yet told the leasing manager this what would then happen is the leasing manager would likely request service turned off in the leasing offices name soon after this and the apartment electricity would be off for a few days.
The new tenant might request service turned on only a few minutes after the manager put in a turn off request but because the turn off request got in queue before the turn on request the power is cut off and it typically takes a few days to get that power physically turned back on.
I say all this so you understand how the electric service switch queue actually works. It is very efficient at making sure service is not turned off unnecessarily by human error.
Now the only reason you would have a hold on switches is if you did not pay your electric bill. You can’t simply not pay and then attempt to sign up with a new provider leaving the other energy company hanging.
The ERCOT system keeps track of this very common situation. You can quickly see if you have a hold on switches by calling the pole and wire company in your area. The queue in their system will likely say hold.
They should be able to tell you if there is a hold and will likely encourage you to pay the old provider.
Now most people will have an excuse of why they didn’t pay the provider such as, “they scammed me on the price they said I would be charged”
Did you know that if you make a formal complaint to the PUCT regarding specific charges, you are not required to pay those disputed charges that show up on your bill? This benefit works provided you pay the part of the bill that is not in dispute.
So sure go ahead and don’t pay your electric bill if you have been scammed but follow proper PUCT rules and regulations by complaining and trying to resolve the issue first with the provider and if that does not work proceed with filing a formal complaint with the PUCT detailing the specific charges that you do not believe you owe.
Perhaps the provider falsely advertised their rate and then charged you a different rate. Once your formal complaint is in simply send in payment to the provider along with details about the disputed amount and only pay for the just charges.
I would also send in this disputed electric bill and copy of payment to the PUCT via their fax number for formal complaints so they have record.
If you do not go through the PUCT to avoid paying a provider you will get a switch hold and those are not easy to release unless you pay your old electric company.
Even though prepaid electric companies don’t do credit checks, etc. they still must go through the pole and wires company and the ERCOT system to queue you up.
If the physical address has a hold on it there is just no way for even a prepaid electric supplier to get around this.