Note: With the current deregulated market opportunities now being presented to many business that qualify, the market has been inundated with new sales personnel. I found this article provides on objective overview of questions you should ask and details you should know before making a decision.

There are many companies offering variable electric rates. I would not recommend this solution at this time.

With natural gas prices being the lowest they have been in the last 3 or 4 years, there are great opportunities to lock into a fixed price electric contract for a 1 or 2 year period.

By Carl Shaw

With the deregulation of energy in many parts of the US, competition is now allowed between energy companies to provide electricity at discounted rates directly to their customers. These Energy Service Provider Companies (ESCOs) are licensed by individual states and are required to adhere to the applicable regulatory guidelines set by the Public Service Commissions (PSC) or Public Utility Commission (PUC).  Customers (end-users) also have the opportunity to work with electricity brokers or consultants who can compare different offers and provide additional services to help manage your monthly energy spending and costs.

If you are a business spending a minimum of $3000 a month  on your electric or natural gas bill, you may qualify to choose your electric or natural gas supplier in deregulated markets, which could create savings opportunities. Companies that can control or manage their electric consumption to use more electricity in the off-peak hours will find the greatest opportunity for savings. In deregulated markets, you now have a choice and can choose lower energy rates without any risk or local service change.

Your local energy service providers buy natural gas and electricity on the open market at wholesale prices based on the current market conditions and then bill their customers at increased rates to include margins and/or service fees.

Independent Deregulated brokers can put your company in a competitive position by leveraging extensive buying power to help you develop energy supply procurement programs. They can conduct an unbiased rate and tariff analyses that may result in substantial savings to you. 

Due to the current economic conditions and the complications deregulation has caused there are many new energy advisory companies popping up, so be sure to know all the facts before making any decision.

When choosing a qualified utility tariff analysis & rate optimization firm to represent you, you should be aware of a few things:

First, be sure that the price you are quoted from your local provider includes all charges. Should you be talking to a consultant or broker, make sure the price is “fully loaded” meaning, does it include the 7% loss allowance (to deliver 100,000 kWh of electric, the providers must actually send 107,000 kWh, for there is a 7% loss in transmission)? Also does it include the local sales tax?

In PA, you must also ask if the price includes GRT (gross receipt tax) and RMR (reliabilty must run). RMR is a pass thru charge from the provider that allows them to meet peak demand periods when they must use additional resources to meet this demand. This is normally found during the summer months.

All these important components should be included in the quote from your deregulated provider to make an accurate comparison. These components are included in your price to compare from your local provider.  Often, companies will provide a low end quote without including sales tax and a load allowance. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples. Often when these figures are included, their real quote is much higher.

Does the company providing your quote have an Energy Information Management System in place, to make sure that you are getting the best available rate?

Are they shopping your account to more than 1 provider. Each provider has a sweet spot (a market they are most competitive in). An independent broker who knows the market will be able to identify these providers and work to get the best price.

Information is power. Knowing what questions to ask will save you time and money.

There are opportunities to save from 10% to 25% in the deregulated electric market depending on your usage patterns.

When making a final decision, know that you are dealing with a commodity and timing is everything. Market fluctuations may happen on a daily basis.

Best Time

February 14, 2011

When is the best time to buy energy in the deregulated market?

I have heard statements from clients saying, “Let’s wait to July or August and then we’ll look at it.”

This seems to be a common misconception. When buying a commodity, we are dealing with a fluid market.

Prices are constantly changing.

During the last 4 years, we have seen the Nymex go from a high of $13.105 in July 2008 to a low of $2.843 in September of 2009.

What is the Nymex?

The current price of natural gas out of the ground in the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of Louisiana.

When quoting fixed natural gas prices we must add the basis cost, which is the cost of transporting natural gas from the shores of Louisiana to the gate of the local provider (PSEG, SJ Gas, PGW, Peco  etc).

The Nymex is normally used as a gauge to determine where the natural gas and electric markets are at any given point of the day.

Nymex is up, means that gas and electric prices will be increasing

Conversely,

Nymex is down, means that gas and electric prices will be dropping.

This is not necessarily a proportional shift but it is a good indicator.

I went back over those 4 years and looked to see when the Nymex was at its’ highest and lowest points.

Year        Average Cost        Lowest   Month   Highest   Month

2007       $6.376 dth            $5.43      Sept        $7.558    April

2008       $8.437 dth            $6.469   Nov        $13.105   July

2009       $3.475 dth            $2.843     Sept      $6.136     Jan

2010       $3.908 dth            $3.292     Nov       $5.814     Jan

Our goal at HBS is to properly monitor the market swings and to communicate with our clients when the opportunities present the best value.

Dealing with a utility is not like dealing with other contracts in business.

You do not have to wait for the contract to expire.

There is no guarantee that the best opportunity will be available.

As of this writing the Nymex is at $3.93 and it is only mid-February.

Could the market go lower?

Yes..

But there is more of an upside risk!

Prices could easily go higher.

 

How much lower will the market go?

The floor is not determined until it passes

And then it may be too late.

When dealing with a commodity….

Timing is everything!

I often say that a client who buys deregulated utilities is like a person who shops at Syms.

“An educated consumer is our best customer.”

HBS strives to educate our clients and keep them informed,

Providing…

Smart Solutions for Smart Business

If you would like to know more about deregulated utilities and your business call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Trade group looks to revise “price-to-compare” system that helps customers make informed choices about independent power suppliers
 
By Tom Johnson, January 28 in Energy & Environment |
With residential customers finally switching electricity suppliers, a trade group representing independent power companies is hoping the state revamps billing and other procedures to make it easier for consumers to shop for a cheaper energy.
For the first time since the state broke up its electric monopolies more than a decade ago, residential customers and small commercial operations have some choices about who supplies the power to light their homes and businesses.

Because of a steep drop in natural gas prices and the way the state buys electricity, independent power suppliers have an opportunity to undercut the price that public utilities offer customers.

“The big story on the retail electricity side has been the emergence of residential and small commercial markets,” agreed Jay Kooper, New Jersey state chair of the Retail Energy Suppliers Association, a trade group representing so-called Third-Party Suppliers (TPS).

Falling Prices

Until natural gas prices fell, more than 99 percent of residential customers elected to stay with their incumbent electric utility to buy their power, a fact that generated criticism of the state’s deregulation law. Other power suppliers found it hard to beat the price of the incumbents, in part because fuel costs had been rising and the state mitigated those spikes by buying power in chunks over three years, which tended to moderate those increases.

But when natural gas prices began falling more than a year ago, suppliers could undercut the price offered by the state, with some offering price discounts of up to 15 percent on the supply portion of customers’ bills. Nearly 100,000 customers have switched as of November, according to the most recent data compiled by the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU).

With customers looking around for options, the big question for third-party suppliers is how do they sustain the business, especially if natural gas prices begin rising.

To Kooper, the answer is to revamp the state’s policies in two key areas: how to deal with customers who fall behind in their bills and owe the third-party suppliers money and the so-called price-to-compare, a mechanism set up by the state to help customers shop for new suppliers.

“We need to dive into the nuts and bolts of the retail market to keep it sustainable for the long term,” Kooper said, noting the changes his group is seeking have already been adopted in other states with deregulated energy markets.

Gaining Momentum

Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon, who ordered the stakeholder hearings on the issue, said he is trying to take advantage of the momentum created by new suppliers coming into the market and make it easier for them to compete with the incumbents.

Without changes, Kooper said the suppliers will be subject to a “boom and bust” cycle when natural gas prices rise as they most inevitably will. What the suppliers are seeking is a level playing field to compete with the utilities, he said.

Along those lines, the group is advocating requiring the utilities to purchase the suppliers’ account receivables, or unpaid customer bills. Kooper argued such a change would be fair because utilities are already are protected from uncollected bills by a surcharge, which allows them to pay off those bills.

The group is also seeking to establish a uniform price-to-compare system because each of the four utilities uses a different scheme to help customers compare prices, according to Murray Bevan, counsel to the group.

“As retail markets evolve, it’s very important that price-to-compare is as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as possible,” Kooper said. “Without these mechanisms, it makes access to the smaller customers trickier and riskier.”

About Deregulation

January 27, 2011

As presented on PSEG website

Before Deregulation 

Prior to New Jersey’s restructuring, PSE&G was responsible for generating electricity, transmitting the power to all regions of their service territory, distributing the power to the individual homes and businesses, and billing and service issues.  In addition, they were also responsible for all repairs to the electric lines and equipment.

After Deregulation

As a result of the New Jersey Energy Choice Program, the different responsibilities of the utilities were “unbundled” and the power industry was separated into four divisions: generation, transmission, and distribution, and energy services. The generation sector has been deregulated and, as a result, utilities are no longer the sole producers of electricity. The transmission and distribution sectors remain subject to regulation – either by the federal government or the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.   No matter which electricity supplier you choose, PSE&G will continue to service the transmission and distribution sectors of your electricity.

Competition is allowed between companies to provide power at discounted rates and superb customer service directly to customers. These companies are licensed by the state of New Jersey.  You also have the opportunity to work with an electricity broker or consultant who can compare different offers and provide additional services to help manage your energy spending.

In most cases, PSE&G will continue to send you your utility bill.  So the only thing that changes if you shop for a better rate is that better rate.

Out Perspective

Deregulation has presented a great opportunity for savings in the business sector. If you are a company spending a minimum of $5000 a month on electric and you are not taking advantage of this opportunity, feel free to give us a call and we will present an overview. 856-857-1230

Or, if you would like to know more about deregulation opportunities for your business email george@hbsadvantage.com

HBS has been providing independent deregulated energy management solution to our business clients for over 10 years. We represent all the major deregulated energy providers selling energy in deregulated states.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) has been providing deregulated energy management solutions to our business clients for over 10years.

Although we currently do not service the residential markets in deregulated states, I found it prudent to offer some insight to the many residential clients now seeking savings in the deregulated electric market.

Since New Jersey just introduced the opportunity to their residents in the spring of 2010 and Pennsylvania in January 2011, many people have jumped on the band wagon selling electric.

We get several calls daily from our clients asking questions about saving for their home electric.

The first thing that I caution them is to make sure the price that is being presented is fully loaded and contains all the factors that are included to make a price to compare analysis.

Does it include a 7% loss allowance (to deliver 100 kw of electric you must send 107 kw, for there is a 7% line loss in the delivery of the electricity)  

Does it include 7% sales tax. (PA residents 6.46% gross receipt tax)

These factors are included in the PSEG and AC Electric price to compare.

The second thing we caution clients to look for is a fixed price.

Natural gas prices are the lowest they have been in the last 3 to 4 years. Although they have spiked recently due to the winter cold, prices are still very attractive.

Thirty % (30%) of the electric generated in the US is made with natural gas. Because of this, natural gas prices serves as a strong market indicator used for electric market prices.

By choosing a fixed price, you can lock your position for a 1 or 2 year period.

There are many companies offering variable options or 4 month fixed pricing and variable pricing for the remainder of the contract. I do not feel comfortable stating that this presents a good opportunity for savings at this time.

Variable pricing does not lock your position and leaves the pricing upto the whim of the market, therefore this is a more riskier decision at this time.

Proceed with caution and make sure to get all the facts before choosing a deregulated residential electric provider.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com 

 
Posted on Sun, Jan. 16, 2011

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

Pearl Rosenbloom and her neighbors in South Jersey have been getting lots of sales calls lately encouraging them to switch from Public Service Electric & Gas Co. to alternative power suppliers.

The pitches are often long on enthusiasm, but short on facts.

“When you ask for details, they just say, ‘You’re going to save money!’ ” Rosenbloom said.

The Burlington County resident looks longingly across the Delaware River, where Peco Energy Co. customers are rapidly moving into a market-rate environment.

Pennsylvania residential customers have access to a wealth of comparative information on rates assembled by the Public Utility Commission or the state Office of the Consumer Advocate.

But in New Jersey, where suppliers are offering residential discounts of 12 percent and more, consumers are largely on their own when it comes to assessing the data.

“We don’t know what to do,” Rosenbloom said.

J. Gregory Reinert, the communications director of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, said there were too many offerings for Garden State regulators to manage the data on behalf of customers.

“We do not provide comparison data of third-party suppliers or utilities,” he said.

“Customers need to do comparison shopping by either calling or visiting the websites of each company to review the tariffs or promotions, and make their own comparisons and decisions,” Reinert said.

New Jersey’s approach stands in contrast to the model states lauded in a recent industry study of electricity deregulation. Advocates of market rates say competition helps suppress electrical costs by encouraging more efficiency and conservation.

Nat Treadway, the managing director of a Houston firm that conducts an annual assessment of restructured markets, in December singled out Pennsylvania’s system for praise.

In most deregulated states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, customers are free to choose the company that generates their electricity, which makes up the biggest part of their bill. Traditional utilities, such as PSE&G and Peco, are solely distributors of power and do not make money off power generation – even on the electricity they buy on behalf of customers who do not switch.

Treadway, managing partner of the Distributed Energy Financial Group, said the best markets for encouraging electrical choice were in Texas and New York.

By contrast, Treadway called New Jersey’s restructured residential market “marginal.”

Ronald M. Cerniglia, director of governmental and regulator affairs for Direct Energy Services L.L.C., a large electricity marketer operating in several states, called New Jersey’s marketplace “suboptimal.”

He said the best competitive markets set up rules that encourage alternative suppliers to do business while still providing traditional consumer protections.

Regulators in thriving markets also make efforts to educate customers. One way is to maintain websites with neutral cost comparisons.

The Pennsylvania PUC’s papowerswitch.com lists most current suppliers, and some of their offerings. The Texas and New York utility commissions operate sophisticated websites that allow consumers to search for competitive offers by zip code: powertochoose.org and newyorkpowertochoose.com.

The New Jersey BPU rolled out a website for power-shopping after it opened electricity markets to competition in 1999, part of a $13.5 million promotional effort.

But New Jersey’s rates were still rigidly structured, and residential suppliers stayed away. The BPU’s website was abandoned in 2003 and the domain name was taken over by a Spanish pornography site, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Only in the last year have alternative suppliers planted their flags in New Jersey’s residential markets. As of November, 98,700 customers out of New Jersey’s 3.3 million households had switched to alternative suppliers, up from a mere 213 households in 2009.

By comparison, Peco Energy Co. says 96,000 of its residential customers have switched suppliers, most in the two weeks since rate caps were lifted Jan. 1.

The BPU provides the names of suppliers on its website, but the list appears to be out of date. South Jersey Energy Co. is listed as a residential electrical supplier even though it has been “out of residential for a number of years,” according to Joanne Brigandi, a company spokeswoman.

And in some cases, it is difficult for New Jersey customers to locate even the most basic information from which they can make an informed choice.

PSE&G’s basic-generation service – the price to compare – is listed as 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour on some alternative suppliers’ websites.

PSE&G spokeswoman Karen A. Johnson confirmed Friday that the utility’s price to compare is 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Several suppliers are offering discounts below either price. They are listed above.

Our Perspective:

Hutchinson Business Solutions has been providing deregulated energy management solutions to our business clients for over 10years. Although we currently do not serve the residential markets in deregulated states, I found it prudent to offer some insight to the many residential clients now seeking savings in the deregulated electric market.

Since NewJersey just introduced the opportunity to their residents in the spring of 2010 and Pennsylvania in January 2011, many people have jumped on the band wagon selling electric. 

We get several calls daily from 0ur clients asking questions about saving for their home electric. The first thing that I caution them is to make sure the price that is being presnted is fully loaded and contains all the factors that are included to make a cost to compare analysis. Does it include a 7% loss allowance (to deliver 100 kw of electric you must send 107 kw for there is a 7% is line loss in the delivery of the electricity)  and 7% sales tax. These factors are included in the PSEG and AC Electric price to compare.

The second thing we caution clients to look for is a fixed price. Natural gas prices are the lowest they have been in the last 3 to 4 years. Although they have spiked recently due to the winter cold, prices are still very attractive. Thirty % (30%) of the electric generated in the US is made with natural gas. Because of this, natural gas prices serve as a stong indicator used for electric market prices. By choosing a fixed price, you can lock your position for a 1 or 2 year period.

Variable pricing does not provide this opportunity and is therefore a more riskier decision at this time.

Proceed with caution and make sure to get all the facts before choosing a deregulated residential electric provider.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20110116_New_Jersey_consumers_perplexed_by_elecric-power_options.html?viewAll=y#ixzz1BFl4JZXL
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