Current electric rates provide an open opportunity for alternative energy suppliers to communicate with commercial end users in deregulated electric markets.

New utility rules allow alternative electric companies to compete for your business.  Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent energy management solutions provider. We bring together the best electric suppliers in your state to bid on your commercial, industrial  electric supply. If you currently buy your electric from Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L), PSEG, Atlantic City Electric, or Rockland Electric Company or PPL in PA, than you have the power to choose your electric supplier and save money on electric. Deregulated electricity gives the customer the power to choose their electric supplier and save on energy.

Your local provider currently purchases electric on the open market at  wholesale prices, they then sell it to you at a retail price. We put our clients in a wholesale position and the savings fall to the bottom line. HBS clients are saving from 10% upto 40%.

Utility bills for electricity now include one total price for generation, transmission, and distribution. Deregulation means the generation portion (the supply) of the electricity service will be open to competition. Your local utility company will remain responsible for providing maintenance, customer services, and billing for the transmission and distribution of your electric.

A long time monopoly system of electric utilities has been replaced with competing suppliers. When competition is present in any market place, the end user benefits. Deregulation of energy markets give our clients the opportunity to compare rates of suppliers, decide who is the best fit for their energy consumption needs, and find savings in the deregulated market.

If you would like to know more about your opportunity for savings email george@hbsadvantage.com

Reign in Your Telecom Spend

February 6, 2010

Telecom spending is in on the rise, which raises a critical question: are you in control? For most companies, the answer is no. Today’s changing competitive landscape and increased telecom cost management pressures mean that even the smartest companies must examine their spending to avoid overpaying millions of dollars each year in billing errors, unused services and vendor noncompliance.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS)  give efficiency and visibility to the purchasing, billing and contracting process, ensuring you never overpay for telecom and take full advantage of every available telecom cost reduction opportunity. While billing, contracts and rate structures can be overwhelming for even the most experienced,  for over 10 years HBS’s visibility has given us the insight needed to give you telecom cost control, while increasing service levels from your vendors.

Whether you need guidance justifying a purchase or full-scale telecom auditing, HBS ensure you’re always paying fair market value and maintaining vendor relationships that are compliant with your contractual engagements.

Our clients are finding savings from 10% to 40%. Should you like to know more about your opportunity for savings and efficiencies email george@hbsadvantage.com

Posted on Fri, Jan. 1, 2010

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

When the Pennsylvania legislature approved electric competition 13 years ago, lawmakers imagined that one day most customers would shop around for the cheapest price or the best service – the way they now do with cell phone providers.

That hasn’t happened.

In two parts of Western Pennsylvania, where market rates rule, for example, less than 20 percent of residential customers have opted for alternative suppliers, despite offers of discounts ranging from 7 percent to 10 percent.

Instead of choosing a power supplier that would save a typical Pennsylvania household about $100 a year, residential customers there seem to be saying that the savings just aren’t worth the hassle of shopping.

“The idea was to give customers a choice,” said James H. Cawley, chairman of the state Public Utility Commission. “You can only do so much, and if people don’t help themselves, you can’t make them.”

But Cawley and others say they believe the climate might change dramatically in the next month as full competition is introduced to the vast territory in central and eastern Pennsylvania served by PPL Electric Utilities Corp., of Allentown, which has 1.4 million customers, nearly a quarter of the state’s total.

Today, state-mandated caps will be lifted in PPL territory – which includes parts of Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester Counties – and rates will go up about 30 percent. Five suppliers are blanketing the territory with ads and direct-mail offers of discounts that would cut the amount of the increase about a third.

Already, 148,000 customers, more than 10 percent, have signed up.

The experience in PPL territory will set the stage for the complete transition of Pennsylvania’s regulated electric utilities to open competition at the end of 2010, when rate caps expire for five remaining utilities, including the biggest, Philadelphia’s Peco Energy Co.

Power brokers are ramping up activity in the state now, with the aim of establishing a long-term presence. Cawley said he had talked to the electrical-generation suppliers, “and they think the Peco market is huge.”

If the industry’s experience in Western Pennsylvania is any indication, residential customers will be reluctant to embrace the change.

In areas served by Duquesne Light Co., of Pittsburgh, and Penn Power Co., of New Castle, Pa., where rate caps came off in recent years, only about one in five residential customers have switched suppliers – though a majority of commercial customers and nearly all industrial customers have.

“We and the utilities haven’t done enough to educate customers,” said Dan Donovan, spokesman for Dominion Retail, a nonregulated subsidiary of the Richmond, Va., energy company that markets in Pennsylvania.

Under the Electricity Generation Choice and Competition Act of 1997, utilities such as Peco and PPL Electric divested their power plants and became distributors that deliver electricity to customers. They earn profits only for the monopoly service they provide to all customers, such as billing and maintenance of distribution lines. Those charges are still regulated by the PUC.

Though the utilities are indifferent to which suppliers their customers choose, the PUC has ordered them to provide power to those customers who do not choose. A utility’s rate, which is an average price of contracts from power suppliers who bid at auctions, is called the default rate.

PPL’s default rate is 10.45 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with prices of 9.38 cents to 9.52 cents per kilowatt-hour from alternative suppliers. The average Pennsylvania residential customer consumes 10,500 kilowatt-hours a year, so those pennies add up.

Donovan said many customers misunderstood the process of shopping for a generation supplier, whose charges typically make up about 70 percent of the total bill.

“It’s painless,” he said. “You still get one bill. It doesn’t change anything.”

Suppliers offering the best prices typically want customers to commit for at least a year. Some impose fees for early cancellation of the contract.

Cawley, the PUC chairman, said customers who did not switch often said they could not be bothered with shopping for savings of only $100 a year.

“That’s not serious money?” he asked.

Many customers also fear that by choosing a supplier other than their present utility, they will be penalized with poor service.

“It’s nonsense,” Cawley said.

Our Perspective:

We have found great opportunity for deregulated savings in the commercial market. 

 Hutchinson Business Solutions is an independent energy management broker. We have been providing savings in the deregulated energy market in the Mid Atlantic region for the last 10 years. We have strategic partnerships with all the major gas and electrical providers selling deregulation in the PPL territory.

Our clients are saving from 10% to 40% in the deregulated gas and electric market.

We offer a free analysis of your current energy cost from your local provider. All we need is a copy of your latest gas and electric bill.

If you would like to know more about the current market conditions and your opportnity for savings email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230

N.J. businesses’ unemployment taxes expected to skyrocket in next year

By Lisa Fleisher/Statehouse Bureau

December 30, 2009, 7:32PM

NJ-UNEMPLOYMENT-TRUST-FUND.jpgJames Bellis is already in a bind.

As an employer, he pays higher state unemployment taxes than many because he lays off about a dozen workers from his tree maintenance business every winter.

But next year, he expects to be forced into a deeper hole. Businesses will likely see their unemployment taxes skyrocket in July — and not come down for years — because the fund is broke.

It’s almost more than Bellis can handle, after seeing a 23 percent drop this year at Tree Tech, his Randolph business.

“In this economy, every dollar is valuable to managing a business,” he said.

Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s administration says the unemployment fund is one of the top three financial problems it will face when it takes over on Jan. 19.

“It’s a very serious problem, and, frankly, it’s as serious of any of the state’s fiscal problems,” said Rich Bagger, Christie’s chief of staff.

The fund has been strained by a persistent unemployment rate of close to 10 percent, but legislators and national observers say the problems stem from years of pillaging by lawmakers during better times to pay for other projects.

Because the fund is insolvent, employers will see an automatic tax hike in July, which could translate into businesses paying between $300 and $1,100 more per worker to bring $1 billion more to the state, according to the state Labor Department.

But even that will not stop the fund’s deficit from increasing fivefold, from $926 million now to $4.5 billion by the end of April 2011. New Jersey is one of 25 states that has borrowed money, interest-free through 2010, from the federal government.

The situation puts Christie in an unpleasant position, because he has promised no tax increases, because the hike is baked into the unemployment system. It automatically adjusts the tax rate based on the fund’s balance and an employer’s individual history of layoffs.

The tax hike could work against an economic recovery, causing businesses to hire fewer people, lay off workers or freeze or lower salaries, said Rich Hobbie, executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.

“This is a serious increase in costs for employers,” he said. “They have to figure out some way to cover that cost.”

The tax increase comes at the worst time for businesses, said Art Maurice with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

“Employers are struggling to keep people working that they have on their payrolls now,” he said. “Now to add an across-the-board (unemployment insurance) payroll tax increase on top of that would just be backbreaking.”

Bagger said the administration must look at all possible options to revive the once-flush fund that now supports more than 175,000 New Jersey residents. The choices include:

• Pushing legislation to put off or reduce the tax increase. The downside is that increases debt.

• Reducing benefits to bring them more “in line” with other states. Democrats and worker advocates will fight that change.

• Finding $1.9 billion for the fund. But from where? Gov. Jon Corzine just cut $839 million in spending to deal with a nearly $1 billion current budget deficit, and the Christie team projects it will be $9.5 billion short for next year’s budget.

• Teaming with other states to ask the federal government to forgive loans.

Lawmakers have known this was coming for years. Over the last two years, Corzine pushed off similar tax increases on employers by putting $380 million from the general fund into the unemployment fund.

The U.S. Department of Labor expects 40 states’ funds to become insolvent by 2011.

Already, 25 states and the Virgin Islands have borrowed more than $25 billion from the federal government to pay claims, not including extended benefits paid for by the federal government. New Jersey started borrowing in March and now owes more than $926 million. The biggest borrower, California, owes $5.9 billion. Michigan owes $3 billion and New York owes $2 billion. The states’ problems are not unprecedented. In the 1970s and ‘80s, states borrowed regularly from the federal government, but loans at that time were interest-free. This time around, loans are interest-free only though 2010

State lawmakers around the country are scrambling to deal with the problem.

New Hampshire, for example, has instituted a one-week waiting period to get benefits and increased the portion of salary taxed. Indiana in April saw thousands of union workers protesting cuts the governor there called “Rolls-Royce” benefits. And 10 states are already making employers pay their system’s highest tax rate, which is what New Jersey is scheduled to do.

New Jersey legislators disagree about how to solve the problem.

New Jersey has one of the highest weekly benefits — $584, compared with $405 in New York and $566 in Pennsylvania — and it will automatically increase to $600 for newly laid off workers who receive their first benefit check after the New Year.

It also is one of a handful of states to allow people to collect checks the first week they are unemployed — instead of waiting a week — and which allows increased benefits for people with children, according to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Advocates say this is because it costs so much to live here.

Still, some legislators say the state can’t afford to categorically leave out options.

“Everything should be on the table,” said Assemblyman Joseph Malone (R-Burlington), who said the solution to the fund’s problem needed to be worked out with a comprehensive approach to fixing the economy. “The decisions that are going to have to be made are going to anger people.”

The very suggestion has drawn sharp words from some legislators and advocates.

“Given the dire situation it’s just mean-spirited,” said state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex.) “I think that it would be unconscionable, given the current state of affairs, to decrease benefits. We’re talking about people keeping a roof over their heads and keeping food on the table.”

An alternative approach, offered by state Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), is to let the pot just replenish itself.

“These funds have to build up, and they can’t build up overnight,” he said.

To be sure, even the more generous features are not what caused the fund to fail. The major source of the problem, critics say, is not even the recession, but rather the $4.7 billion siphoned from the 1990s through 2006 by governors and legislators from both parties to pay for things such as health care for the poor.

“Unemployment wasn’t so long-term back then,” said Buono, who supported the diversions. “Given the set of alternatives that we had and the cuts that were made, this was not anything that any individual legislators wanted to do but … I think it was something that needed to be done at the time.”

The unemployment fund kept growing, reaching $3.1 billion by the end of 2001. But even after the balance slipped, plunging to $1.5 billion by the end of 2003, governors and legislators continued to scoop up money before it hit the fund, until Corzine stopped the practice in 2006.

The state has started to take steps to prevent that from happening again. In November, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would prevent the Legislature from diverting money.

As an employer, Stephen Fauer wouldn’t mind that his environmental services business needs to pay higher taxes to contribute to the state’s bankrupt unemployment fund.

“If someone puts their hand out and asks, ‘Help me,’ you don’t say, ‘No,’” said Fauer, who owns Environmental Strategies and Applications in Middlesex. “That’s the kind of tax I pay not necessarily with a smile on my face, but not with a heavy heart.”

What bothers Fauer is the reason he will likely have to pay more.

“It’s the irresponsibility of our politicians,” he said. “Doing things for expediency rather than things that are correct. You need to behave in a way that’s correct. You need to behave in a way that’s responsible.”


How it works

Employers and employees both contribute to the fund. But employees put in a small, fixed amount, whereas employers pay the lion’s share of the tax – and the amount they pay varies.

The system taxes employers based partially on how much money is in the fund, and partially based on their history of laying off workers.

But there’s another factor: All employers are affected by how much money is in the unemployment pot. If the balance sinks too low, taxes go up for everybody, which is happening this year.

Our Perspective:

Did you Know:

Unemployment is the 2nd highest US Government Employer Mandated Tax!!

 Why is it, that something that is ranked so high, stirs so little questions?

Many employers just see it as a cost of doing business.

Did you know that the unemployment tax is the only tax that you can have a say as to what your rate is?

How do you know if your current unemployment rate is correct?

When is the last time you asked that question?

Did you know that the state of NJ has a 12% error rate in the payment of unemployment claims?

If they are paying claims incorrectly, that means they are taking too much money out of your account and that your rate may be incorrect!

Unemployment is a very basic concept:

Each company basically has a checking account with the state to pay for unemployment claims.

The state assigns a rate to each company, which determines what percentage of payroll is paid into this checking account to help pay for claims.

The state then notifies you how much money was taken out of your account to pay for claims that your company may have been liable for.

Would you give the state your personal check book?

You may say no!!!!! 

But you have more $$$ in your unemployment account, then you will ever have in your personal checking account. Yet people still do not ask……

How much are we paying into unemployment?

Are you sure we are paying the correct amount?

Is your currenr nemployment Rate Correct?

Hutchinson Business Solutions has been dealing with this exact question for over 10 years. We offer a free service to determine if your rate is correct.

If we find there is an error, we will work with the state to get it corrected and take the necessary steps to file for a refund.

We will also work with you to help control unemployment cost and your future rate.

Should you like to know more email george@hbsadvantage.com or you may call 856-85-1230.

Deregulated Energy FAQ

February 1, 2010

Deregulated energy markets throughout the United States can mean substantial cost savings for businesses aware of the opportunities. Hutchinson Business Solutions makes benefiting from deregulation easy by answering your questions and showing you how our expertise in deregulated energy markets, coupled with our world-class list of energy providers, can help control costs, stabilize energy expenditures and increase profits for your company.

Q: Will the reliability of my electric or natural gas service change with deregulation?
A: No. Regardless of which energy provider we help you choose, your electricity and natural gas will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local utility company, a company still regulated by the Public Utility Commission.


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Q: What happens if I have an emergency or power outage?
A: Because your local wires company is still responsible for the maintenance and repair of the poles and wires, you will call them in the event of an emergency or outage at the number provided on your bill.

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Q: What has stayed the same in electric and natural gas service with deregulation?
A: Your current Transmission and Distribution Utility, continues to deliver electricity and natural gas to your business. Your local utility company still responds to service interruptions and continues to maintain the poles, wires and pipelines. You will continue to receive the same reliable service you are used to with your local utility company, regardless of which energy provider you receive service from.

It’s helpful to think of electricity and natural gas deregulation like the deregulation that occurred several years ago in the long-distance telephone service market. Consumers now have the power to choose the long-distance carrier of their own liking. However, regardless of which long-distance carrier they choose, their phone lines are still provided and serviced by the same local phone company.

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Q: What has changed in electric and natural gas service with deregulation?
A: You can now choose to buy your energy from a different provider than the original provider for your area. These companies are called retail energy providers. Additionally, your bill now looks different than bills you have received in the past, but each retail energy provider provides the same standard information.

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Q: Does everyone have the option to choose a new electricity or natural gas provider?
A: Unfortunately not. City-owned utilities and member-owned electric cooperatives have the option of giving their customers a choice of providers, or keeping things the same.

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Q: Why use an energy procurement advisor?
A: The answer is simple: we save you time and money. Staying in-tune daily with energy markets, providers and new opportunities is a full-time job. With Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS Energy Management) you can capitalize on the benefits offered by deregulation without committing significant time and resources to understanding the complexity of the markets.

We get to know your business and your specific energy needs. Then we negotiate with energy providers on your behalf to get the best rates and options. After you have an agreement with a provider, we continue to service your business, and in case your needs change we are there to renegotiate new agreements that fit those needs. We do all the work. You receive all the benefits, including no out of pocket costs!

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Q: Will I notice a change of service when I switch my energy provider?
A: No. No matter which energy provider you choose, your energy will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local utility company, a company still regulated by the Public Utility Commission.

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Q: What happens if my energy provider stops serving customers?
A: If this were to take place, you would not be without energy. Your energy provider must give you advance notice to give you time to select a new provider. However, if you do not choose a new energy provider, your service will automatically be switched to another provider for your area. In this case, your energy rate may increase, so it’s in your best interest to find a new provider if yours stops serving you.

Hutchinson Business Solutions has been an independent broker in the deregulated natural gas and electric market for over 10 years.  Your local provider buys natural gas and electric wholesale and then sells it to you the customer retail. We put our clients in a wholesale position.

To learn more about deregulated natural gas and electric opportunities you may email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230. Our clients are saving from 10% to 40% on their supply cost. Your savings fall to the bottom line.