Employer FAQs

What reports am I required to file ?

Each quarter every employer who is subject to the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law is required to file a NJ-927, “Employer’s Quarterly Report,” and a WR-30,”Employer Report of Wages Paid.” 

 Must I file a quarterly report if I have no wages to report?

 YES. If you are subject to the New Jersey unemployment compensation law, you must file a NJ-927 and WR-30, indicating no wages paid. 

 What rates should I use when filing my reports ?

NEW EMPLOYERS RATES : Unless you are (or become) subject to the New Jersey unemployment compensation law under the “successor” provisions of the law, in most cases a new employer (one in business for less than three years) is assigned basic starting rates. For the periods shown, the basic rates are as follows:

Period                                         UI                DI         WF       FLI

07/01/09 to 06/30/10    2.6825%    0.5%    0.1175%   0.0%

07/01/08 to 06/30/09    2.6825%   0.5%    0.1175%    0.0% 

 EXISTING EMPLOYER RATES :

 Unemployment and Disability Insurance tax rates are assigned on a fiscal year basis (July 1 – June 30). Every subject employer receives a ” Notice of Employer Rates” (form AC-174.1) and its accompanying explanation at the beginning of each fiscal year. You may obtain your current rates by contacting the Experience Rating Unit.

WORKER RATES: For the periods shown, workers’ contribution rates for unemployment and state plan disability insurance are as follows:

Year                                                                        UI           DI           WF           FLI

2009/2010 (01/01/10 to 06/30/10) 0.3825% 0.5% 0.0425% 0.1200%

2009/2010 (07/01/09 to 12/31/09) 0.3825% 0.5% 0.0425% 0.0900%

2008/2009 (01/01/09 to 06/30/09) 0.3825% 0.5% 0.0425% 0.0900%

What is the taxable wage base ?

For the periods shown, subject employers must pay taxes on wages up to the following amount :

CALENDAR YEAR TAXABLE WAGES

2010 29,700

2009 28,900

2008 27,700

2007 26,600 

What are gross wages ?

Gross wages include every form of remuneration paid to an employee either directly or indirectly, including salary (sick leave pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, back pay awards), commissions, bonuses, and the cash value of all compensation in any medium other than cash as actually paid or otherwise distributed to the employee during the reported quarter. Payments in kind for personal service such as meals, board, or lodging received by a worker from his employing unit in addition to or in lieu of (rather than as deduction from) money are deemed to be remuneration.

What are the eligibility requirements for a reimbursement account ?

Eligibility: An organization must be defined as non-profit as described in section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be exempt from Income tax under section 501(A) of the Internal Revenue Code to be eligible to become a reimbursement account. A non-profit organization that elects to reimburse the unemployment trust fund for benefits paid to its former employees is required to furnish proof of financial responsibility or file a surety bond with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

New Employer: A newly subject employer must submit a written notice of intention to apply for the reimbursement option to the Division of Employer Accounts within 120 days of the date status is attained, or no later than 30 days from the date on which such an organization is notified of its subjectivity, whichever is later. Existing Employers: After reporting a non-profit contributory employer for a minimum of two calendar years, you may choose the reimbursement option of benefit payment by filing a written notice to that effect with the Division of Employer Accounts no later than February 1 of any calendar year. For additional information, please contact the Division of Employer Accounts : Employer Status Unit.

How do I amend a previously filed report ?

To amend your NJ-927 and/or WR-30 reports, you MUST amend them on-line only at the Division of Revenue web site. You may no longer submit an amended return on paper. Directions for completing the on-line amended return may be found at the Division of Revenue web site. http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/revenue/amdreturns.htm

How do I request a refund ?

EMPLOYER An employer who has overpaid tax contributions may request a refund by contacting the Division of Employer Accounts: Employer Refund unit, or by submitting a UC-9 “Employer’s Claim for Credit or Refund by Reason of Erroneous Payment of Contributions” with the division. If gross wages originally reported on the WR-30 for any individual employee were reported incorrectly, an amended WR-30 must be filed online and a UC-9 must be completed and mailed to the division. An employer is entitled to a refund of excess contributions paid, if requested no more than two years after the calendar year in which the erroneous payment was made. EMPLOYEE An employee who resides in New Jersey and overpaid worker contributions as result of working from more than one employer may take credit for the overpayment on the NJ1040. Non-residents may obtain a refund by contacting the Division of Employer Accounts: Worker Refund unit, or by submitting to the Division a UC-9A with copies of any W-2s showing excess deductions. An employee is entitled to a refund of excess contributions if the request is made within two years after the calendar year in which wages are paid.

What records must I maintain for my employees ?

Every individual, group of individuals, firm or organization that employs one or more persons on a permanent, temporary or part-time basis, whether or not they are subject to unemployment compensation law, must maintain and retain for the current year and four preceding calendar years the following records : Individual worker records: Full name, address, and Social Security number; The date hired, rehired, and returned to work after temporary layoff; The date separated from employment and the reason for such separation; The number of base weeks and wages; Total remuneration paid, showing separately: cash, commissions, and bonuses; reasonable cash value of remuneration paid by the employer in any medium other than money, including room and board, meals, tips; special payments such as bonuses, gifts, etc., which have been paid during the pay period but which relate to employment in prior period shall be shown separately under the heading: cash payments cash value of other remuneration the nature of such payments the period during which the services were performed for which special payments were paid Payroll Records: The full name of each employee and the days of the calendar week in which work was performed for remuneration; The beginning and ending dates of each pay period; The total amount of wages paid to each employee in each pay period; The total remuneration paid to all such individuals combined, separately by money and other remuneration in each pay period and in all pay periods within each quarter.

Am I required to register a family-operated business ?

A family-run business is exempt from the New Jersey unemployment compensation law if: The business is a sole proprietorship, and The only employees are parents in the employ of a son or daughter, or The only employees are children under the age of 18 in the employ of a parent.

How are unemployment benefits charged to my account ?

When unemployment benefits are paid to a claimant, a charge equal to the benefit amount is made to the account of the employer for whom the individual worked. If the claimant worked for more than one employer during the period on which the benefits are based, each base year employer is charged proportionally for each benefit payment, which is determined by the amount of wages that the employer paid the claimant during the base year and total wages received during that period. That is, under proportional charging, all base year chargeable employers share in the cost of each week of benefit payments. The employer is notified of these charges quarterly on the form B-187Q, “Unemployment Benefits Charged to Experience Rating Account.” employers should check these listings carefully against their payroll records to help prevent incorrect charges and improper benefit payments.

How can I reduce my UI/DI rates ?

You may reduce your UI/DI rates: Avoid fines by submitting all reports accurately and on time. Avoid unnecessary charges by reviewing determinations, appeals, decisions, and charge notices for accuracy. By making timely appeals on determinations, appeal decisions and charge notices that you believe to be erroneous. By attending appeal hearings and reporting fraud. By making voluntary contributions. By using the “exceptions address file” to have forms sent to the proper company location.

How do I grant power of attorney ?

You may grant power of attorney to another individual to represent you before the Division of Employer Accounts by submitting a power of attorney document containing: The corporate seal, unless the employer is an individual or a partnership; The signature of the employer(s) or duly authorized corporate officer; Specific mention of Employment Security as the entity before whom representation will be made on behalf of the employer; The signature of a notary public and the expiration date of commission; The signature of the representative and a statement acknowledging power of attorney authorization.

What is a private disability plan ?

A private disability plan is one in which temporary disability benefits are provided for workers by an agency other than the state. You may establish a private plan for the payment of disability benefits in place of the benefits payable under the state plan. Such a private plan may be a contract of insurance issued by an authorized carrier, by an employer as a self-insurer, or by an agreement between a union and an employer. The Bureau of Private Plans must approve all private plans. You must submit for review an application and complete description of the plan. To apply for a private plan, contact: Division of Temporary Disability Insurance Bureau of Private Plan Approval and Termination Section PO Box 957 Trenton, NJ 08625-0957 Telephone: (609)292-2720 Fax: (609)292-2537

How do I determine whether an individual who performs services for me is an independent contractor ?

 An employer is not liable for unemployment or temporary disability contributions for services performed by an independent contractor. To be considered as an independent contractor, an individual must retain all control or direction over the services rendered. In addition, the independent contractor must be customarily engaged in the established trade or business which should have been existence prior to its association with the employer, and which trade or business should be independent to the point that it could survive if the relationship between the employer and the independent contractor were terminated. An independent contractor advertises his or her services, is in a position to realize a profit or suffer a loss, and has an investment in its business.

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March 17, 6:18 PM Political Buzz Examiner Ryan Witt

By now the health care reform bill has become something like Bigfoot in that everyone talks about it but few know what it really looks like if it exists at all.  For clarification there is in fact a “bill” which is set to be voted on by the House of Representatives this weekend.  The current bill was already passed by the Senate and has been analyzed extensively by experts. However in addition to the Senate bill the House also plans to vote on a “fix” to the bill which will then go back to the Senate.  The “fix” is not all together settled and is still being written after going through markup in the House Budget Committee (picture on left).

Still the fixes are relatively small because they must be in order to be passed through the reconciliation process in the Senate.  We therefore know most everything that the bill would do if it is passed this weekend.  Here is a plain language summary of the major provisions of the health care reform bill.

Would I Be Forced to Purchase Insurance?

Probably not.  If you already have employer-provided insurance you can keep it.  If you do not currently have any insurance you may have to purchase a plan by 2014.  Beginning in 2014 most Americans would have to purchase health care insurance or be forced to pay a fine.  If someone already has insurance (including through their employer) they would not need to worry about this provision.  For those who would be affected they could purchase insurance from anywhere but if they do not they would need to pay either $750 or 2% of their income, whichever is greater.  Exemptions would be granted for those in financial hardship which is measured using the poverty line.

Would My Current Insurance Be Affected?

Yes and no.  Yes in that any new plans would be regulated by the federal government.  The regulation would make plans provide a minimum of amount of benefits but not a maximum.  It would also implement consumer protections and an appeals process for consumers who want to dispute the decisions of their insurance companies on individual coverage.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that premiums would go down under reform compared to the rate premiums would go up without reform.

Having said all that the reform plan “grandfathers” plans already in existence.  Therefore a plan currently in existence would be exempt to any changes at least for a while under the current bill.

What About This Exchange Idea and the Public Option?

There is no public option or new government provided insurance plan under the current bill.  Instead each state would have a health care insurance exchange where any individual can purchase health insurance.  The insurance plans in the exchange would have to meet federal regulation that would ensure they provide minimum benefits, etc.  Individuals who are currently covered by an employer-provided plan could not purchase form the exchange.  Undocumented immigrants could also not purchase from the plan. 

All plans in the exchange would be regulated by the federal government.  These regulations would include requirements that the plans provide a certain minimum level of coverage, that they do not discriminate based on pre-existing exclusions, that they spend a high percentage of their premiums on actual care (around 80%), and that they follow certain consumer protection laws.  In addition plans could no longer limit how much costs they are willing to cover.  In the past insurance companies would be able to limit their liability to $250,000 for example and stop paying once that limit was reached.

What Would Happen to Medicare?

The proposal would set up a board that would research and propose solution to reduce the costs of Medicare.  The board would be specifically prohibited from proposing anything which would amount to rationing care for the elderly.  Instead the proposal would focus on reducing waste and fraud while making Medicare more efficient.

What if I Can Not Afford Health Insurance?

Individuals who make between 100%-400% above the federal poverty level would be eligible to receive credits to assist them in purchasing health care insurance.  The amount of credit would generally go down the more income an individual made.  For the poorest the credit may pay for all of their health care premiums.

Would Employers Be Forced to Provide Insurance?

Maybe.  If a business has over 50 full-time employees they will be forced to offer health care coverage or face a $750 fee per employee.  Businesses with less than 50 employees would be exempted from providing coverage.

What About Medicaid?

Medicaid would be expanded to cover all individuals under the age of 65 who make less than 133% of the federal poverty level.  Currently the poverty level is around $18,000 for a family of three.

Does the Bill Pay for Abortions?

The bill keeps the current federal law on abortion funding in that federal funds could not be used directly to pay for abortion or abortion-related services.  The current bill does not include the abortion language in the House bill which put restriction on funding which were even more strict than the current law.  Essentially the House bill would have prevented individual receiving federal assistance from purchasing any health care plan (private or not) that provided abortion coverage.

What About Small Businesses?

Initially small businesses would receive a tax credit for up to 35% of the money they pay to purchase health insurance for their employees.  By 2014 that percentage would increase to 50%.  The idea is to help small businesses pay for health insurance coverage since they currently do not have the bargaining power of larger businesses.

Small businesses would be allowed to join forces in order to purchase insurance for their employees.  In other words five small businesses could all negotiate with an insurance company together in order to get a lower rate as big businesses currently do.

How is It All Paid For?

First there is a cadillac plan tax.  If an insurance plan costs $8,500 for an individual or $23,000 for family it would be taxed at 40% for any amount above those amounts.  Most health care plans cost much less than those amounts in premiums.

Secondly there are taxes on health insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, and medical supply companies.  Each of these companies would be assessed fees.  Pharmaceuticals would pay $2 billion, medical supply companies would pay $2.3 billion, and health insurance companies would pay $2 billion starting in 2011 and increasing to $10 billion by 2017.

Finally the bill would count on increased efficiency and reduced waste in Medicare to offset some of the other costs.  Overall the bill was projected to save a little over $100 billion in the first ten years of its existence and well over $700 billion after that.  Those projections were done by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

By Andrew Maykuth

Retail electrical choice is off to a fast start in PPL Electric territory.

Nearly a quarter million PPL Electric Utilities Corp. customers – 18 percent – had switched to alternative power suppliers as of Monday, the Allentown utility said.

And state officials expect that more PPL customers will sign up with discounted suppliers after they glimpse their bills, which reflect a 30 percent increase for power consumed after Jan. 1.

“When people see that high bill – especially if they’re a heating customer and it’s a high winter bill – that’s certainly going to arouse more interest in switching power suppliers,” said Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate Irwin A. “Sonny” Popowsky.

Caps on PPL’s rates came off Jan. 1, and the utility’s 2010 default rate, based on power purchased from 2007 to 2009, increased 30 percent.

But alternative suppliers, which can buy wholesale power at current market rates, are offering discounts of more than 10 percent off PPL’s current retail rates.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has certified eight alternative suppliers for PPL customers, including two that offer renewable power at a higher cost than PPL’s default rate of 10.45 cents per kilowatt hour.

PPL Electric, which serves 1.2 million customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania, is encouraging customers to shop around because the utility does not lose money on customers who choose alternative suppliers.

Customers who choose an alternate supplier still get billed and serviced through PPL, which collects a standard fee for distributing the power through its lines.

Of 248,000 PPL customers who have switched, 205,000 are residential, said Ryan Hill, the utility’s spokesman.

Deregulation in PPL territory has more than doubled the number of Pennsylvania electrical customers who get power supplied by independent operators. Nearly 414,000 customers statewide are served by alternative suppliers, according to the consumer advocate.

Rate caps will remain in place in Peco Energy Co. territory through the end of 2010, when customers of the state’s largest utility are expected to get offers from alternative suppliers.

Our Perspective:

HBS is an independent energy broker who is currently selling deregulated energy in the PPL territory. We are finding prices in the mid to upper 8 cent area. Shold yo like to know more about deregulated savings in the PPL territory email george@hbsadvantage.com

3 Ways a Telecom Management System Will Save You Money
By Steve J Murphy

As reported in Ezine Articles

A telecom management system is first and foremost a money saver. If the telecom system cannot provide a clear reason for you to invest your time and money (but, you may not need to pay for the system, more on that later), then why would you pursue it as a strategy? The return on investment, both hard dollar costs and time and energy invested, needs to be clear before the investment is made.

So, where do telecom management systems generate their payback? Telecom systems certainly create efficiencies in terms of automating manual processes within the IT and finance organizations, but our focus is on the hard dollar savings telecom management systems are renown for delivering. These hard dollar savings are in the “indisputable” elements of the telecom program. The hard dollar savings create a solid business case that managers can take to their executives for concurrence to move forward. If the investment element of the telecom system is low or free, then the only expenses that need to be covered before generating a clear return to the company is the set-up effort.

Where do these returns come from? Hard dollar savings can only be generated buy lowering the telecom bills of the user. This lowering can occur one of 3 ways: 1) by reducing the rates that the existing carrier is bill, 2) by changing the services the user is paying for so service is maintain or even enhanced while costs go down, and 3) by introducing new carriers with superior value propositions. A comprehensive telecom management operation will accomplish these three things and more.

Reducing rates charged by an existing carrier can be challenging. After all, you are typically bound by a contract or tariff, reducing the flexibility that the carrier has in changing what is being charged. Getting rates changed is possible, but it requires work on your part and may also force a contract extension. If you are happy with your carrier, a contract extension may be tolerable. The telecom expense reductions seen in this scenario typically range less than 10%, Telecom carriers in a re-negotiation proceeding do not have a significant incentive to reduce rates, so some sort of loyalty discount is typically rolled out. The two remaining methods of reducing your telecom expenses, however, are preferred.

Changing carrier’s services is a very effective means of lowering current spending without interrupting or interfering with an existing telecommunications carrier contract. Evaluating the specific services at each of your locations, determining whether you can simply disconnect a service, consolidating service to more efficient facilities, or up-grading to a newer technology can yield savings of 10% to 20% if the network has not been optimized for quite some time.

The best savings are usually obtained by actually using new telecom service providers to replace existing services with much more competitively priced services. There are many quality service providers that supply similar quality to the larger carriers at rates in excess of 30% below what the larger telecom carriers charge. Strategies are available for every comfort level, so using an alternative carrier to lower your cost can be extremely beneficial.

Consider using a telecom management platform to tie these three strategies together. Platforms that detail telecom inventory, analyze billing trends, as well as provide flexible analytics are best suited to support cost containment and reduction initiatives.

Our perspective:

If left unchecked, voice and data cost can become a major business expense. As the industry continues to evole, the cost of voice and data have become more competitive while the increase efficiencies will take your business to a new level. For too long business has settled for the mediocresy of service provided by the major carriers.  Significant savings can be found by shopping your account.

Hutchinson Business Solutions provides corporate financial solutions. We are an independent broker who represent over 50 of the major voice and data providers.

Each business is unique. We will work with you to find the right provider that will allow you to increase your efficiencies and address your needs.

To learn more contact george@hbsadvantage.com

Deregulated Gas Savings

March 14, 2010

As reported by Energysop

Deregulation of utilities means that the historical monopolies granted to a few large utilities providing electricity, telephone and natural gas are eliminated. These companies will just operate the distribution systems, the wires and the pipes. Competitors then enter the market with different pricing and service offerings. With the onset of deregulation in all of these industries, it is possible for consumers to realize significant savings by shopping around for these commodities.

 Utility deregulation is complicated since there is a fixed and very expensive distribution system already in place – pipelines, power and phone lines. It’s just too expensive, disruptive and environmentally harmful to construct parallel distribution systems. This is different from deregulation of airlines or financial services where no such fixed infrastructure existed. As a result, only the commodity, gas, electricity or telecom, is deregulated.

Natural Gas Deregulation

Historically, consumers received supply and delivery of natural gas from a single company who had the monopoly franchise for the region in which they lived. These companies bought gas on the wholesale market and sold it to consumers in their jurisdictions according to regulated rates set by the local regulatory agency, an energy board or public service commission.

 Natural gas is being deregulated in many jurisdictions. Examples are, Ontario, Alberta, Maryland, California, Georgia and Pennsylvania. This means that a householder or business can buy gas directly from a supplier at a competitive price — not just from the gas utility. These utilities, however, continue to have the franchise to distribute gas and charge a regulated fee.

Deregulation separates the sale of the gas as a commodity from it’s distribution. The product is available at a competitive price and under competitive conditions but the delivery is a standard regulated charge. This would be similar to a situation where you might buy milk by phone, and it is delivered by a large courier service such as Federal Express. The milk is a commodity, and it would be priced differently between suppliers, but the supplier relies on a distribution system provided by Federal Express trucks. A portion of what you pay would be for the commodity (milk), and a portion for the distribution (Fed Ex). In the case of utilities, the distribution will remain regulated, but the commodity supply will be a free market.

 Experience in Other Jurisdictions

The U.S. initiated deregulation in the gas industry at the wholesale level in the mid 1980s which resulted in gas prices declining about 35 per cent for large commercial and industrial customers, according to a Harvard University study. Prices for residential consumers changed only slightly.

Agents, Brokers and Marketers (ABMs)

Consumers choosing to shop around for their natural gas supplies can benefit from the price swings and variations inherent in a competitive energy marketplace. But where do consumers go to buy natural gas? Deregulation has given rise to a number of sources of gas supply.

 First, you can continue to let your distributing utility purchase gas on your behalf and deliver it to you with no change in the process.

 Or you can look into purchasing it from an agent, broker or marketer. These are independent companies that either sell on behalf of gas producers or purchase supplies of gas and re-sell it to consumers. Securing a long term supply from one of these energy marketers when the gas prices are lower can result in significant savings over the term of your contract.

 Should you choose to buy from a gas marketer, nothing about your service will change. You will still get a bill from your distributing utility which will indicate a regulated Delivery Charge. This is about 1/3 of your bill and a Gas Supply Charge which is the remaining 2/3. The delivery charge will be kept by your distributing utility and the gas supply charge will be forwarded to the gas marketer or supplier you chose. Should you choose some value-added services offered by gas brokers, such as energy cost comparisons, rental gas equipment or an equipment service contract, these will also be added to your bill. If you switch to a gas marketer, there is no interruption of service nor any other additional fee charged.

 This cost split is a key point to remember when you are comparing costs or considering an appeal from one of the gas suppliers or marketers. You have no doubt received promotional materials from one of these either by phone, by mail or from someone knocking on your door. The suppliers, brokers and marketers are only dealing with 2/3 of your bill. The distribution charge, which is 1/3 of your bill, is fixed and regulated by regulatory boards. They have periodic hearings to evaluate and set this rate. The remaining 2/3 is variable depending on which supplier you choose. As a result, when a promotional message claims a 10% saving, it is referring to 10% of the 2/3.

 Take, as an example a fairly typical annual gas bill of $ 1,500. One third of that, $500, is a fixed distribution charge. The remainder, $1,000, is the gas supply charge. A supplier offering a 10% saving is offering a saving of $ 100, which is 10 % of the $ 1000 gas supply charge. The saving on the total energy bill is 6.7 %, ($100 saving on a $1,500 gas bill).

 Gas marketers offer varying contract terms and conditions. In general, however, you have two basic choices. You can sign on for a single or multi-year contract at a fixed price or you can choose a rebate option which means you pay the regulated price set by your distributing utility and will receive a rebate if your marketer can buy the supply for less than that price.

Our Perspective:

I found this article gave a good explanation of the deregulated natural gas opportunity. If your company is spending more than $3000 a month for natural gas, you should be looking at buying natural gas in the deregulated market. Our clients are saving a minimum of 10% to 15% by buying natural gas in the deregulated market.

Currently yor local provider is buying natural gas in the wholesale market and then selling it to their clients for retail prices. Should you qualify, we are able to put your company in a wholesale position and the savings will fall to your bottom line.

Hutchinson Business Solutions provides independent financial solutions in the dereglated energy market. We have been positioning our clients for savings in the deregulated energy market for over 10 years.

To find our more information, visit our website www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

or email george@hbsadvantage.com  You may also call 856-857-1230.

What is an “aggregator”?
An aggregator is a company or association that buys power at a wholesale price from power generating companies and passes the savings on to its customers. Because the aggregator is buying vary large amounts of power on behalf of all its customers, they can negotiate for the best rates on your behalf.

Does taking advantage of the deregulated electricity market require changes in wiring to my business?
None whatsoever. Your new agreement to buy electricity through an aggregator simply requires your local utility (the company that delivers power to your meter) to utilize electricity generated by the companies that sell power wholesale to the aggregator.

Can I take advantage of the deregulated electricity market in my home?
Not at this moment, in most cases. Aggregators need to acquire the bargaining power of larger electricity users to be able to negotiate favorably for their clients. At some time in the future, aggregators may turn to groups of homeowners.

Is there any service interuption when I change my electricity provider?
The change from buying power from your current provider to your new provider is “seamless”, in most cases simply requiring a reading of the meter at the time your new service takes effect. There is usually no need to replace the meter or otherwise interupt your power service. Your aggregator will take care of all the paperwork, contacting the various utility companies, etc.

Who do I call if the power is out?
Your local utility is responsible for delivering electricity to your business. In case of a storm-related or other outage, call your local utility just like you do now.

Will my local utility put me “at the back of the line” if I report an outage?
No, this is illegal. More importantly, in practical terms, most outages are not to just one address, but to an entire area or zone of their service grid. These repairs restore everybody’s service regardless of where they buy their electricity from.

How does the billing for my electric service work? How do I pay my bill?
You’ll still get just one bill. Whereas you currently typically receive just one bill to cover the generation, transmission, and delivery of power from one company, you now will receive one bill that shows the cost of all of these elements. In order to keep administration costs as low as possible and deliver power at the lowest cost to all customers, most aggregators require automated monthly payment of your bill, in the same safe and reliable manner as you may currently schedule your bank or credit card to automatically pay other regular bills for your business or home.

Who do I contact for questions about my bill?
For questions regarding your bill for electricity contact your aggregator. For questions regarding the delivery of your service such as outages, meter checks, etc., contact your local utility, which is responsible for delivering power (from whatever source) to your business.

Who is responsible for the safety and reliability of my service?
The delivery system is still the responsibility of your local utility and as such, its safety and reliability. The utility will maintain the lines and repair them if there is an outage or storm. The regulatory body overseeing utilities in
your state will help to ensure that the utility continues to provide a safe, reliable delivery system for your use.

Can I buy power from one specific power generating company?
Since saving money is most people’s primary reason for buying electricity through an aggregator, your energy may come from any number of different electricity generating companies at any given time, depending on price. Other options are usually available to purchase electricity solely from a “green” generator, such as solar and wind farms.

Do I have to make a long-term committment to a different electricity provider?
Avoid making long-term commitments with an aggregator or broker, at least initially. A safer option is to choose an aggregator who offers a no-commitment service so you can be satisfied that you are receiving the expected savings and service. If, for whatever reason, you are unsatisfied, you’ll have the option of returning to your previous electric supplier.

What reasons are there to stay with my current electricity company?
If you are a stockholder receiving dividends from your current provider (although the potential savings may cover much more than your current dividends), or if you are not concerned with the amount of money you spend for electricity.

How do I find a reliable aggregator to help cut my electricity bills?
Email George@hbsadvantage.com to learn more of how yo can save in the deregulated Market

Visit or webite to learn more www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

The Deregulated Electricity Market will SAVE your company money…but only if YOU act.

Just as deregulating the airline industry resulted in more competition and lower airfares, and the deregulation of the telephone industry resulted in slashing service costs, the deregulation of the nation’s electric utilities will result in utility companies competing for your business with better service and lower prices. While it’s not yet truly practical for the average household to utilize this deregulated environment, the “mid-size” to “large” electricity consumers (small to large businesses) are now able to drastically cut their electricity costs through “aggregators” (companies that buy large volumes of electricity at wholesale rates on behalf of their clients).

A Brief History of
Utility Deregulation

Before deregulation, you were ‘held hostage’ by one telephone company monopoly. You had to pay the rates that they decided were ‘fair’ (though they had to receive approval from the government). The phone company owned the wires, switches, even your actual phone which you had to rent from the phone company (you were not allowed to own a phone of your choice and connect it to “their” system.

Then the phone company monopoly was broken up by the U.S. Justice Department and the FTC, and allowed the entry of competition. The competition began with long distance phone calls, and companies like MCI and Sprint set up their own switching systems and wires and leased the use of the old phone company’s lines (this latter part was mandated by government decree to insure competition). Long distance rates started dropping, first by a little, then drastically. Today a long-distance call can cost as little as a penny (sometimes even less), whereas that same phone call 30 years ago would have cost 20 or 30 cents (or more) per minute. The End Result? Consumers of telephone service now have multiple choices for service providers, and the cost of telephone services (especially long distance, but also local service) have dropped dramatically, saving consumers tens of millions of dollars.

THE SAME SITUATION IS OCCURING TODAY WITH
ANOTHER UTILITY: THE ELECTRIC COMPANY.

In the interest of providing the public with the lowest possible rates and a selection of service options, the U.S. electric utility industry is now in the process of being deregulated. This allows power plants to compete for your business, and as we all know, competition breeds savings for consumers. It also changes the electrical utility industry into two distinct types of services: The companies that transmit power from the electrical generating station to your home or business (they own the poles, transformers, wires, etc…these are called “the distributors”); and the companies who actually operate power plants (“the generators”) and feed electricity into the distributors’ power grids. Of course, some companies are both generators and distributors. Still, deregulation allows you to choose who actually generates the power you consume, and you are free to choose the company that generates electricity in the most cost-effective manner and therefore can sell it to you at the best price.

In 1978, Congress passed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act which laid the groundwork for deregulation and competition by opening wholesale power markets to nonutility producers of electricity. Congress voted to promote greater competition in the bulk power market with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) implemented the intent of the Act in 1996 with Orders 888 and 889, with the stated objective to “remove impediments to competition in wholesale trade and to bring more efficient, lower cost power to the Nation’s electricity customers.” The FERC orders required open and equal access to jurisdictional utilities’ transmission lines for all electricity producers, thus facilitating the States’ restructuring of the electric power industry to allow customers direct access to retail power generation.

As a result of the Federal and State initiatives, the electric power industry is transitioning from highly regulated, local monopolies which provided their customers with a total package of all electric services and moving towards competitive companies that provide the electricity while utilities continue to provide transmission or distribution services. States are moving away from regulations that set rates for electricity and toward oversight of an increasingly deregulated industry in which prices are determined by competitive markets. (source: United States Department of Energy)

So how do you get electricity from “Power Company A” when your existing power company is “Power Company Z”?  Envision this example: Suppose your town is served by “Power Company Z”…this is the company that owns and maintains all the wires in your town, and they also happen to have a power generating station as well. This power company also is connected via larger regional or national power grids to 3 other power generating companies (let’s call them “Generator A, B, and C”). 25% of the power users in your town buy their power from Generator A, 25% from Generator B, 25% from Generator C, and the remaining 25% continue to buy from the distributing company “Power Company Z”. If you are one of the 25% that decides to buy your power from “Generator A”, then your distributor “Power Company Z” is required to buy 25% of their overall power from Generator A, 25% from Generator B, and 25% from Generator C. That means that the actual “juice” delivered to your business at any given moment could actually be a combination of electricity from up to 4 different providers, but the end result is the same…YOU, the CONSUMER, dictates which power company provides your share of the total power distributed and used, and you pay for your energy at Power Company A’s rates.

Of course it’s entirely possible that a power distributor has no actual power generating facility, OR that everybody in their service area chooses to buy their power from a source OTHER than the distributing company. The distributing company can not be expected to maintain the poles, towers, lines, transformers, etc. for nothing. Under the new deregulated industry, you will in effect receive two bills: One to pay for the actual amount of electricity used, and another for the delivery of the energy to your business. In actuality, your monthly power bill is consolidated into one payment, but it’s easy to see how much you are paying for electricity and how much for delivery.

In the end the competition between power generating companies will lower your bill by 15 to 20%, based on the experience of electricity users in states where deregulation has already been in place for several years. In the near future this competition will also allow you to make significant social and environmental choices. You may choose, for example, to obtain your electricity from a generating company that produces electricity at a slightly lower level of savings, but uses a cleaner fuel source than another generating company. You might even choose to take a firm environmental stand of receiving very little in savings but purchasing your electricity only from a very “green” power source, such as a producer who uses hydro, solar or wind turbines to generate electricity.

In the past, you could only buy electricity from your local utility, at the rates they set. Today, you have the freedom to buy from a variety of utilities that compete on price and quality for your business.

I have been getting a lot of feedback recently from many clients. They are all saying the same thing, “ What’s going on with the energy market, seems like everyone is starting to sell energy.”

That’s a good point! Energy prices are the most competitive they have been in the last 4 to 5 years and many people are trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) has been selling both gas and electric for the last 10 years. We represent all the major providers licensed to sell energy in New Jersey and that puts us in a unique position. We do not just represent 1 company. We are an independent energy broker, able to shop both your natural gas and electric accounts to all the providers, finding you the best opportunity for savings.

You will be surprised by some of the disparity of prices we find between the various providers, although they all seem to offer a savings over the current price to compare from your local provider. What needs to be understood is that each provider may have what is known as a sweet spot ie. those markets where they are more competitive.

Electric Opportunity

 We recently presented a proposal to a client where the price to compare from PSEG was  $.1162 cents per kwh. One of our providers submitted a proposal of $.109 cents per kwh, while another one came in at $.103 cents per kwh. By shopping the account we were able to provide more value with greater savings.

 Another thing that you must be aware of, while looking at your electric price in the deregulated market, be certain that the price is fully loaded and includes all the tarrifs and Sales Tax. I have seen where a client has been given a proposal with these items left out. What might look like a better deal can in fact be deceptive for the actual price will include a 7% loss allowance and also 7% sales tax. The loss allowance and the sales tax is already included in your price to compare from the local provider. To make the proposal apples to apples this must be included.

 Should you like to know more about your opportunity for savings in the deregulated electric market email george@hbsadvantage.com  We offer a free analysis of your cost and will present a proposal of the opportunities based on your current demand and annual usage.

 Natural Gas Opportunity

 There are also opportunities available in the natural gas market. If you are currently receiving natural gas from your local provider; remember that they are purchasing natural gas wholesale and selling it to you retail. Each month the price of natural gas changes from the provider based on current market conditions. Should you have floated your account in the deregulated market over the past year buying your natural gas thru HBS, you would have saved from 10% to 20% depending on who your local provider is.

 We also offer the option to lock your price on natural gas from 1 year up to 2 years or more. Some companies prefer this option for it offers certainty as to what they will be paying over the life of the contract and protects their account from market price fluctuations.

 Should you like to know more about your opportunity for savings in the deregulated natural gas market email george@hbsadvantage.com  We offer a free analysis of your cost and will present a proposal of the opportunities based on your current demand and annual usage.

 Hutchinson Business Solutions does not charge any additional fees for our services. As stated, we are an independent energy broker and receive a small residual from our providers during the life of the contract. Therefore, all the savings fall to the bottom line.

 There are minimum usages that may qualify your account to be able to participate in the deregulated market. Normally, if you are spending on average of $2000 a month on natural gas or a minimum of $5000 a month on electric, you should be looking at the opportunities for savings in the deregulated market.

Obama Health Care

March 5, 2010

WASHINGTON — The end game at hand, President Barack Obama took command Wednesday of one final attempt by Democrats to enact bitterly contested health care legislation, calling for an “up or down vote” within weeks under rules denying Republicans the ability to kill the bill with mere talk. Appearing before a White House audience of invited guests, many of them wearing white medical coats, Obama firmly rejected calls from Republicans to draft new legislation from scratch. “I don’t see how another year of negotiations would help. Moreover, the insurance companies aren’t starting over,” the president said, referring to a recent round of announced premium increases affecting millions who purchase individual coverage.

While Obama said he wanted action within a few weeks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., seemed to hint a final outcome could take far longer. “We remain committed to this effort and we’ll use every option available to deliver meaningful reform this year,” he said.

 The results will affect nearly every American, mandating major changes in the ways they receive and pay for health care or leaving in place current systems that leave tens of millions with no coverage and many others dissatisfied with what they do get.

With Republicans united in opposition, there is no certainty about the outcome in Congress – or even that Democrats will go along with changes Obama urged on Wednesday in what he described as a bipartisan gesture. With polls showing voters unhappy and Democrats worried about this fall’s elections, Obama also sought to cast the coming showdown in terms larger than health care, which is an enormously ambitious undertaking in its own right. “At stake right now is not just our ability to solve this problem, but our ability to solve any problem,” he said.

Republicans dug in for another struggle on an issue that they agreed would echo into the fall campaign. The Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said a decision by Democrats to invoke rules that bar filibusters would be “met with outrage” by the public. “This is really not an argument between Democrats and Republicans. It’s an argument between Democrats and the American people,” he said. At its core, the legislation under discussion still is largely along the lines Obama has long sought and GOP critics attack as a government takeover of health care. It would extend coverage care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans while cracking down on insurance company practices such as denying policies on the basis of a pre-existing medical conditions. A new “insurance exchange” would be created in which private companies could sell policies to consumers under terms fixed by the federal government.

Much of the cost of the legislation, nearly $1 trillion over a decade, would be financed by cuts in future Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers and higher payroll taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples over $250,000.

 Story continues below The president’s appearance marked a presumably final pivot point in a long, uphill effort by Obama and other Democrats to enact far-reaching changes to the health care system – and with his own administration at an important crossroads. Eager to turn attention to efforts to stimulate the economy and create jobs, the president is seeking a victory on health care that can also give him a boost on other priority legislation. At the same time, a defeat could damage Obama’s ability to help fellow Democrats heading into the fall campaign. Failure on health care could well lead to a shake-up of the president’s White House team, which has received criticism recently from Democratic lawmakers.

After nearly a year of struggle, the House and Senate passed separate bills late last year, and appeared on course for approving a final compromise version early in 2010. But those efforts were abruptly abandoned when Republicans unexpectedly won a special election in Massachusetts. Sen. Scott Brown’s victory gave the GOP an ability they had lacked, the strength to sustain a filibuster, a form of opposition that requires supporters of a bill to post 60 Senate votes in order to cut off debate and force a final decision.

 Democrats went into something of a political fetal position, and have begun to stir in recent days only as Obama asserted his determination with a bipartisan summit followed by a revised set of proposals.

Obama said the use of rules that deny the minority the right to a filibuster had been used numerous times in recent years, including on passage of welfare reform legislation in the 1990s and twice when President George W. Bush pushed tax cuts to passage. Health care “deserves the same kind of up or down vote” as those earlier measures, he said.

 Under the rather complicated approach under discussion, the House would be asked to approve the bill that passed the Senate late last year, despite objections by many members of the rank and file to several provisions. Simultaneously, both houses would also vote for a companion measure whose purpose would be to make changes in the first bill sought by either House Democrats or the White House.

Obama said he was exploring GOP proposals for cracking down on fraudulent medical charges, revamping ways to resolve malpractice disputes, boosting doctors’ Medicaid reimbursements and offering tax incentives to curb unnecessary patient visits to doctors. The ideas include an experiment that would establish special courts in which judges with medical expertise would decide malpractice allegations. The idea has been criticized by the Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer group that prefers the current system of awarding damages. It said health courts would be “anti-patient.”

The White House and Democratic leaders said they hoped that Obama’s maneuvering would at least win the votes of wavering conservative and moderates in their own party, even if it didn’t entice Republicans. But there was no guarantee of success, despite Obama’s vow to do everything in his power to succeed – and a White House announcement that he would travel to Pennsylvania and Missouri next week to campaign for the legislation.

 ___ Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven, Ben Feller, Alan Fram and Erica Werner contributed to this story.

by Julie Dengler 05.MAR.10
It’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s a solar panel?
Residents of many local towns may have recently noticed panels being installed about 15 feet up on residential utility and street-light poles. The panels are five feet by two and half feet, and weigh about 60 pounds. By the end of 2013, 200,000 panels will have been installed throughout New Jersey.

PSE&G sources say that their “investment is the largest pole-attached solar installation in the world … New Jersey has more installed solar capacity than any state except California.” New Jersey estimates its solar power capacity at 40 megawatts of “pole-mounted solar.” Karen Johnson, media spokesperson for the company, estimates one megawatt as enough energy to power approximately 800 homes.
The work is part of a renewable energy program approved for PSE&G by federal regulators last July. It is called Solar 4 All, and is estimated to be a $515 million investment on the part of PSE&G in New Jersey over the next three years. The goal of the program is to move the state closer to meeting an energy master plan requirement of 4.4% (or 80 megawatts) of solar energy use in the electric grid by 2020.
PSE&G says, “The installations will be paid for by PSE&G electric customers. The first year bill impact for the average residential customer will be roughly 10 cents a month.”
Currently, panels are being placed on pre-selected PSE&G-owned utility and street light poles only. Negotiations to share space with Verizon-owned poles are planned.
According to the PSE&G fact sheet on the installation (available at http://www.PSEG.com), poles that qualify for the panel meet several criteria, besides being owned by the utility company. PSE&G is selecting poles that can support the units, face in a southerly direction and have no more than one transformer already on the pole.
The Retrospect caught up with two contracted installers from Riggs Distler and Company, Inc. this week, while they installed a new panel on a pole on Haddon Avenue. Derwin Booker said that the project is keeping his union, and the contractor he works for, busy. While he has been working on installs in Collingswood and Haddon Township, he also worked on the recent installs along Kings Highway in Cherry Hill.
All of the panels are equipped with GPS (Global Positioning Satellite receivers), and each faces exactly 193 degrees south-southwest in order to maximize solar power collection, explained Booker. He said that specific poles were selected from the millions of utility and street poles throughout New Jersey. The panels are equipped with what he called an aggregator, which communicates the collection rates of 10 to 15 panels at a time, back to a main data collection site, so that the rate of energy per cluster of panels can be measured and tracked.
All of the solar energy collected by the panels flows back into the electronic grid as power. Booker commented that the additional energy generated can help in heavy electrical use periods – like summertime, when air conditioners are running — when service is at risk of brown-outs.
Additionally, PSE&G explains, “The installations will generate Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). PSE&G will sell any SRECs it generates to offset program costs. PSE&G will sell the power into the PJM (Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland) wholesale grid and will receive federal tax credits – which will also be used to offset the cost to customers.”

– Copyright 2010 The Retrospect