On August 1 1999, New Jersey implemented electric deregulation in its state, opening its borders to competition and lower electricity prices. Electricity can be provided more cheaply in New Jersey where there is a number of competitive suppliers in the marketplace. Electric consumers need not change their electric supplier (it is the same electricity) and they only need to choose their electric provider. These electric providers buy electricity in bulk at competitive prices and redistribute savings to their customers.

Deregulated Electric and Gas

Natural Gas and Electric competition has substantially benefited industrial electric and gas consumers in the states of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent broker representing all the major deregulated providers in this area. We will provide a free cost analysis of your commercial / industrial annual electricity and natural gas supply expense. 

Your local providers purchase natural gas and electric in the wholesale market and then sells it to their customers at retail prices. HBS puts our clients in a wholesale position and the savings will fall to your bottom line.

To obtain your free analysis on your commercial, industrial or business electricity email your contact information to george@hbsadvantage.com.

In these hard economic times, Why Pay More!

Contact us today. HBS provides corporate utility financial solutions

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Posted on Sun, Jan. 31, 2010

 

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

In their exuberance, oil- and gas-industry officials repeat a single refrain when describing the natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale:

A game-changer.

Tony Hayward, chief executive officer of oil giant BP P.L.C., was the latest to gush enthusiastically when he called unconventional natural gas resources like the Marcellus “a complete game-changer.”

“It probably transforms the U.S. energy outlook for the next 100 years,” Hayward said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The breathtaking emergence of natural gas as America’s energy savior was not in the cards. Just four years ago, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Gulf Coast rigs and rattled gas markets, energy pundits forecast a bleak winter of short supplies, high prices, and low thermostats.

The vast scale of shale-gas resources has come into focus quickly, and industry officials are touting the possibility of steady supplies for decades to come.

The Potential Gas Committee in Colorado last year revised its outlook of America’s future gas supply – up 35 percent in just two years. The forecast was the highest in its 44-year history.

The Marcellus Shale is the nation’s fastest-growing producing area. Though it lies under five states, about 60 percent of its reserves are in Pennsylvania, according to Terry Engelder, a Pennsylvania State University geologist.

“In terms of its impact on Pennsylvania, this is probably without peer in the last century,” said Engelder, whose projections in 2008 alerted the public about the size of the Marcellus.

“America’s energy portfolio has undergone a first-order paradigm shift just in the last two years,” he said. “This is such an exciting thing.”

Not everyone has climbed aboard the bandwagon. Some environmentalists are uneasy about the hydraulic-fracturing process that has unlocked the shale gas. The technique requires the injection of millions of gallons of water into a well to break up the shale to initiate production.

And some analysts say they believe the gas industry’s estimates are too optimistic.

“I would look at all this with a bit of healthy skepticism,” said Arthur E. Berman, a Houston gas-industry consultant, who says he believes some operators have overstated the production potential and understated the cost of Texas shale-gas wells. His pointed criticism got him banished from one trade journal – and invited to speak at scores of investor workshops.

“Two years ago, we were talking about importing gas from the Middle East,” he said. “And now we have a hundred-year supply of domestic gas?”

Berman said he had been unable to conduct a similar analysis of Marcellus wells because Pennsylvania law allows operators to keep their production data secret for five years, unlike other states, where output is reported to taxing authorities promptly.

“If something looks too good to be true,” he said, “I need to look more closely.”

Questioning voices such as Berman’s are uncommon in the industry, which portrays natural gas as abundant, cheap, and cleaner than coal and oil – a domestically produced “bridge fuel” to ease the transition to renewable wind and solar generation.

For companies like UGI Corp. – the Valley Forge energy company that operates regulated utilities in Pennsylvania that sell natural gas to retail customers and operates unregulated subsidiaries that consume and transport natural gas – the Marcellus Shale represents a game-changing opportunity on several fronts.

“That activity in the Marcellus Shale is really a win-win, not only for our regulated business, but also our nonregulated business,” UGI chief executive Lon R. Greenberg told analysts in a conference call last week.

Officials at UGI and other Pennsylvania gas utilities say retail customers will benefit in the long run, as utilities begin buying their supplies from Marcellus sources, saving pipeline costs from the Gulf Coast.

UGI’s utilities are in a strong position because many of their 578,000 customers are in Marcellus cities such as Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport. The utility could eventually work out deals to buy gas directly from producers.

Though UGI has no interest in becoming a gas producer, the company is exploring the possibilities for investing in “midstream” pipelines that tie the Marcellus wells to the interstate pipelines that move gas to lucrative urban markets like New York. Expansion of the pipeline infrastructure is critical to opening the Marcellus to exploration.

In addition, UGI is looking at expanding its underground gas-storage operations in Western Pennsylvania, said Brad Hall, president of UGI Energy Services.

“There is a bit of a gold-rush mentality,” he said, “but in this case, there’s really gold.”

UGI may also reap some other, unintended benefits.

The company’s power-generation subsidiary last year announced a $125 million project to convert its aging Hunlock Power Station near Wilkes-Barre from coal to natural gas.

Hall said the decision was made before the Marcellus abundance was fully understood. But when the plant comes online in 2011, it is likely to find eager sellers of fuel nearby.

“It makes us look like we were really smart.”

 

 Did you know that Electric and Gas are no longer monopolies and due to deregulation you have a choice of who supplies your business with Electric and Gas services? 
Maybe you do know because you have been getting annoying sales calls telling you to switch but you think it is a scam.
Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent energy management solutions provider. Our clients are savings from 10% to 40% on their natural gas and electric supply cost.  You can save thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of dollars depending on how much energy you use.
 
Power to Choose
Thanks to a national energy deregulation bill passed in 1999, organizations in roughly two dozen states (CT, NY, NJ and PA included) can now manage and control their energy costs in ways never before thought possible. Before deregulation you had no choice. You did not need to pay attention to the energy markets and you simply paid the bill like everyone else. But today you have the power to choose your supplier! The savings will not come to you by default; you must actively make a choice. In a deregulated market you must decide who to buy from, when to buy, what type of service agreement, how long to contract or whether you should consider a market based (variable) rate. If you do not choose a new supplier the local utility by default will remain the supplier of your energy at the highest market rate permitted.
 
What was deregulated?
Simply put the supply portion of your electric bill. The utilities sold off their power plants, and now only own the transmission and distribution wires. They also serve as a ‘backstop’ for power supply to customers who do not shop for electricity. With the move to competition the utilities have separated their service into two parts:
  • Regulated distribution of power, which is still only provided by the utility, and
  • Supply (called BGS) of the electric commodity (open to competition)
Customers who choose an alternate energy provider still have their power delivered to them by their local utility, and will therefore contact their utility for any outage issues. Depending on your utility market after you choose a new supplier you may still get one bill from the utility with two company names on it or you may receive two separate bills; one from the utility for the delivery and the other from the new supplier.
Types of programs
 
If you have not chosen an alternate supplier you are paying a month-to-month variable rate based on filed tariffs. This is usually the most expensive type of rate that you can have since it is based upon the demand of the month in which you were billed. Like everything else in life if you wait until the last minute to buy it you usually pay more. If you choose a new supplier you have the option of remaining on a month-to-month variable rate or choosing to lock in today’s low rates for up to three years in most markets. Energy costs are at or near their all-time lows so it makes sense to lock in for as long as you can to hedge rising energy costs and inflation.
 
 
Types of Sales People
First you need to know if you are speaking with a direct sales person for one supplier or an independent broker that represents multiple suppliers. HBS in an independent energy broker that will present independent and unbiased recommendations for the best program that suits your needs. We offer a free analysis of your current natural gas and electric cost and we receive a small commission from the energy supplier so there is zero cost to you the customer. 
 
How does it work?
To begin, all we need  is a copy of your latest natural gas and electric bill from your local provider. You will also be asked to sign a letter of authorization which permits us to pull the annual usage from these providers. With this information HBS can go out to the deregulated market and get competitive bids for your energy needs. We will then present you with the best options and you choose to activate your savings.
 
If you activate your savings by choosing a new supplier there is no cost to switch. You get the same power, same delivery company, same poles, same wires and same meter. There will be no interruption or downtime of service. The only change will be a new bill in 45 – 60 days from a new supplier.
 
Today’s Economy is difficult at best and you owe it to your business to see if you can save your company money. You have nothing to lose and big savings to gain. 
For more information email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230

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

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted on Sun, Jan. 31, 2010

In their exuberance, oil- and gas-industry officials repeat a single refrain when describing the natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale:

A game-changer.

Tony Hayward, chief executive officer of oil giant BP P.L.C., was the latest to gush enthusiastically when he called unconventional natural gas resources like the Marcellus “a complete game-changer.”

“It probably transforms the U.S. energy outlook for the next 100 years,” Hayward said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The breathtaking emergence of natural gas as America’s energy savior was not in the cards. Just four years ago, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Gulf Coast rigs and rattled gas markets, energy pundits forecast a bleak winter of short supplies, high prices, and low thermostats.

The vast scale of shale-gas resources has come into focus quickly, and industry officials are touting the possibility of steady supplies for decades to come.

The Potential Gas Committee in Colorado last year revised its outlook of America’s future gas supply – up 35 percent in just two years. The forecast was the highest in its 44-year history.

The Marcellus Shale is the nation’s fastest-growing producing area. Though it lies under five states, about 60 percent of its reserves are in Pennsylvania, according to Terry Engelder, a Pennsylvania State University geologist.

“In terms of its impact on Pennsylvania, this is probably without peer in the last century,” said Engelder, whose projections in 2008 alerted the public about the size of the Marcellus.

“America’s energy portfolio has undergone a first-order paradigm shift just in the last two years,” he said. “This is such an exciting thing.”

Not everyone has climbed aboard the bandwagon. Some environmentalists are uneasy about the hydraulic-fracturing process that has unlocked the shale gas. The technique requires the injection of millions of gallons of water into a well to break up the shale to initiate production.

And some analysts say they believe the gas industry’s estimates are too optimistic.

“I would look at all this with a bit of healthy skepticism,” said Arthur E. Berman, a Houston gas-industry consultant, who says he believes some operators have overstated the production potential and understated the cost of Texas shale-gas wells. His pointed criticism got him banished from one trade journal – and invited to speak at scores of investor workshops.

“Two years ago, we were talking about importing gas from the Middle East,” he said. “And now we have a hundred-year supply of domestic gas?”

Berman said he had been unable to conduct a similar analysis of Marcellus wells because Pennsylvania law allows operators to keep their production data secret for five years, unlike other states, where output is reported to taxing authorities promptly.

“If something looks too good to be true,” he said, “I need to look more closely.”

Questioning voices such as Berman’s are uncommon in the industry, which portrays natural gas as abundant, cheap, and cleaner than coal and oil – a domestically produced “bridge fuel” to ease the transition to renewable wind and solar generation.

For companies like UGI Corp. – the Valley Forge energy company that operates regulated utilities in Pennsylvania that sell natural gas to retail customers and operates unregulated subsidiaries that consume and transport natural gas – the Marcellus Shale represents a game-changing opportunity on several fronts.

“That activity in the Marcellus Shale is really a win-win, not only for our regulated business, but also our nonregulated business,” UGI chief executive Lon R. Greenberg told analysts in a conference call last week.

Officials at UGI and other Pennsylvania gas utilities say retail customers will benefit in the long run, as utilities begin buying their supplies from Marcellus sources, saving pipeline costs from the Gulf Coast.

UGI’s utilities are in a strong position because many of their 578,000 customers are in Marcellus cities such as Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport. The utility could eventually work out deals to buy gas directly from producers.

Though UGI has no interest in becoming a gas producer, the company is exploring the possibilities for investing in “midstream” pipelines that tie the Marcellus wells to the interstate pipelines that move gas to lucrative urban markets like New York. Expansion of the pipeline infrastructure is critical to opening the Marcellus to exploration.

In addition, UGI is looking at expanding its underground gas-storage operations in Western Pennsylvania, said Brad Hall, president of UGI Energy Services.

“There is a bit of a gold-rush mentality,” he said, “but in this case, there’s really gold.”

UGI may also reap some other, unintended benefits.

The company’s power-generation subsidiary last year announced a $125 million project to convert its aging Hunlock Power Station near Wilkes-Barre from coal to natural gas.

Hall said the decision was made before the Marcellus abundance was fully understood. But when the plant comes online in 2011, it is likely to find eager sellers of fuel nearby.

“It makes us look like we were really smart.”

Natural Gas Prices Rise

October 23, 2009

As reported in Courier Post

NEW YORK — Sparked by a cold snap in the northeast, home heating fuels are getting more expensive even though supplies are well above normal for this time of year.

Heating oil futures spiked with crude oil contracts last week. Retail prices followed, surging an average of 10.2 cents per gallon for residential customers by Monday, according to an Energy Information Administration report released Thursday.

Natural gas prices rose everywhere for retail customers, with hikes of between 31 cents and $1.14 per each million British thermal units in the lower 48 states.

Our Perspective:

Winter is setting in and we are beginning to see Natural gas prices rise based on anticipated demand. Overall, this is still a good time to lock in natural gas prices in the deregulated market.

With prices being at a 3 to 4 year low, locking in your price gives you protection against market fluctuations and produces savings over the lifetime of the contract. Many of our clients are looking at 12 month to 24 month contracts.

Should you go back and look at your natural gas prices in 2008, you will find that you were paying over $12.00 a decatherm ($1.20 a therm). Currently the prices can be found in the high $7 range to low $8 range based on usage and demand. As you can see, this is close to a 30% savings.

Would you like to know more? Leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Deregulated Utility Savings

October 19, 2009

About Electric & Natural Gas Deregulation

Regulation of public utilities by federal and state governing bodies dates back to the 1930s and was instrumental in forming the vast infrastructure we have today. Without the oversight and a guarantee of financial return on investment, we would not have had the money or rules needed to build the reliable systems that now span the continental U.S. Through the years, there have been a number of regulations (Federal Power Act of 1935, Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935, Natural Gas Act of 1938, Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act of 1978, Energy Policy Act of 2005, et. al.) that have helped shape the relationship between utilities and their customers. Though the rules have changed over time, allowing deregulation of the natural gas and electric industries, two things remain constant. Federal regulation of interstate commerce is performed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and regulation of intrastate affairs is handled by the respective state Public Utilities Commissions.

The electric and natural gas industries are very similar in their structure and operation. Each has three distinct components (i) the commodity SUPPLY portion (ii) the long-distance TRANSMISSION of the commodity and finally (iii) the local DISTRIBUTION of the commodity to our homes and businesses. For many years, your local utility handled all three phases of the business in a “vertically integrated” manner. After decades of growth, construction, and addition of market participants, it was determined that competition could safely be introduced via deregulation of the natural gas and electric industries. To address the needs of a competitive environment, those three phases of utility operations were separated, rearranged and in some cases sold off to other companies or regional transmission organizations.

Deregulation of the electric and natural gas markets came on the heels of deregulation in the airline and telephone industries. Those industries underwent drastic changes during periods of expansion and contraction. Today, airfare and phone rates adjusted-for-inflation, are considerably less than they were in the 1980s and many new products and services exist. In deregulation of the natural gas and electric industries, only the price of the commodity supply has been opened to competition. This means consumers in many states, who are served by investor-owned utilities, are now able to choose who supplies their natural gas and/or electricity. The transmission and distribution of natural gas and electricity is not open to choice, and the price for those services continues to be set by state and federally approved tariffs. The push for deregulation of natural gas and electric came when the FERC decided it should limit its authority to wholesale transactions. This move cleared the way for individual states to determine if and how they should allow retail price competition.

Our perspective:

Currently there are many companies taking advantage of this opportunity. Natural gas and electric market prices are the lowest they have been in the last 3 to 4 years.

Should you want to know more about this opportunity for your company; you may email george@hbsadvantage.com or call and ask about our no cost evaluation 856-857-1230

Posted on Oct. 16, 2009

By Allen Brooks

 

In the last six weeks natural gas futures prices have jumped from a modern day low to nearly $5 per thousand cubic foot (Mcf) as commodity traders and investors started to cover their short positions in this fuel as the days moved closer to the beginning of the winter heating season. The jump in the gas price ends what has been an extended price slide that started back in summer of 2008 when prices were in excess of $13 per Mcf and early signs of the developing global recession emerged.

The traders and investors who have been covering their negative bets on natural gas prices have been motivated by signs the nascent U.S. economic recovery is gathering strength, especially among sectors such as automobiles and home construction that are large consumers of natural gas and its components as feedstocks for petrochemical materials. Additionally, there was the realization that the ratio of crude oil to natural gas prices, which at one point this summer stood at 27:1 (27.08) in contrast to the inherent energy- value ratio of 6:1, was way out of line historically and certainly unsustainable.

At the start of 2009, the oil-to-gas price ratio stood at slightly under 8:1 (7.94). It subsequently dropped in early January to the low so far for the year of 7:1 (6.79). Since that point the ratio has climbed steadily, reaching its peak on September 3rd. After falling to a recent low of 13.67, the ratio has bounced around due to volatility in both crude oil and natural gas prices, but it seems to be locked into a range of 14 to 15:1. The big question is with winter energy demand about to arrive will cold temperatures drive natural gas prices higher while at the same time crude oil prices remain stable, or possibly weaken further, given the continuing sluggish economic recovery?

Natural Gas Is Historically Cheap Even After Recovery; sources: EIA, PPHB

 When we look at the ratio of crude oil to natural gas prices for the past 15 years, it is interesting to note how the ratio has become more volatile and higher in recent years following almost a dozen years of a relatively stable relationship fluctuating around a 7:1 ratio as shown by the dark blue line from 1994 up until 2006 on the accompanying chart. The most recent years have demonstrated considerably greater price volatility between the two energy fuels. It appears the ratio averaged closer to 11:1 from 2006 through 2008. Volatility in the ratio has exploded in 2009. We have marked the low, high and current ratios with small red lines. It was this volatility and the extreme undervalued nature of natural gas that enticed more and more investors and traders into the commodity trade of the decade, which was to buy natural gas futures while at the same time selling crude oil futures. For significant parts of this year that trade didn’t work, but in recent weeks it has. Part of the success of the trade has been the calendar working against commodity traders who earlier in the year had sold natural gas futures with the expectation that gas prices would continue to fall. If they sold them early enough in the year, then they had profits locked in when natural gas prices started to climb. As time passes, bringing the start of the winter heating demand season closer, the impetus for higher natural gas prices strengthens. As a result, these commodity traders are now covering their short positions by buying near-month natural gas futures adding upward pressure to the gas price.

 If one looks at the current prices for physical deliveries of natural gas, there is almost a $1 spread between them and the current November futures price. If we average all the physical gas price points as of October 8th, contained in the Enerfax Daily schedule, it comes to $3.98 per Mcf. This is when the November natural gas futures price traded for $4.96, or a spread of $0.98. This spread is truly reflective of the near-term oversupply situation for natural gas and the optimistic demand outlook associated with the futures price.

 The nearly 100 percent increase in natural gas prices since the beginning of September seems counter-intuitive given the industry’s fundamentals. Natural gas storage facilities and pipelines are nearly all at full capacity forcing gas producers to involuntarily shut-in some of their current production. In other words, near-term industry fundamentals suggest the market should be experiencing weaker natural gas prices, which is consistent with the physical gas prices. On the other hand, the intermediate and longer term outlooks for natural gas demand point to higher prices in the future.

 The brighter over-the-horizon outlook reflects a universal belief that industrial demand for natural gas will recover with the economy and the recent growth in gas production volumes will slow and eventually reverse as the impact of the significant cutback in gas-focused drilling takes its toll on output.

 

Rigs Drilling For Gas Have Been Cut In Half; sources: Baker Hughes, PPHB

 From the peak in natural gas drilling activity, the gas-oriented rig count has been cut by more than half. In recent weeks the number of rigs drilling for natural gas has begun to rise. It is this rig count increase in the face of an essentially stable natural gas production level that has investors, commodity traders and industry people puzzled. While a simple graph of onshore natural gas production is showing a decline since late last year, overall gas production has remained relatively flat for the past nine months as production from the Gulf of Mexico has risen to offset the decline in onshore gas production.

 After dropping due to Hurricane Ike last September, Gulf of Mexico natural gas production has recovered and is now above the declining trend line that extends back to the start of 2005. In fact, current gas production is back to where it was at the start of the summer of 2008. The recovery and subsequent production growth of offshore natural gas helps explain why total U.S gas production has remained healthy in the face of weak prices for most of this year.

 What continues to be absent from the dynamics of the natural gas market is a sustained pickup in industrial gas demand. Increased heating-related gas demand is inevitable as winter arrives. The issue will be the amount of heating demand increase if other economically-sensitive gas demand remains dormant. A recent forecast by Matt Rogers of Commodity Weather Group suggests that the U.S. Northeast may experience its coldest winter in a decade due to the development of a weak El Niño in the southern Pacific Ocean region. Mr. Rogers point is that 75 percent of the time a weak El Niño develops, colder than normal temperatures are felt in this region of the country. Of course, there is a 25 percent chance that it won’t develop.

 When an El Niño develops, which it does periodically, the path of the upper atmosphere’s jet stream across North America is altered. Typically the alteration involves the jet stream dipping lower on the continent, i.e., shifting from Canada down into the United States, which allows Arctic cold weather to move further south than normally and into the Midwest and Northeast regions of the country. The challenge with predicting this jet stream shift is whether it becomes a more permanent shift during the winter months or only shifts occasionally.

 Even the Farmers’ Almanac is calling for a colder winter than in recent years for at least two-thirds of the nation. Importantly, that means more periods of bitter cold weather for two of the major populous regions of the U.S. That should boost natural gas demand. The one naysayer seems to be the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that is calling for heating bills this winter to be about 8 percent lower than last winter due to both milder temperatures and lower oil and gas prices. The EIA says it expects winter temperatures to average 1 percent warmer than last year – a sharp contrast to the independent weather forecasters. Maybe their forecast is tied to their view about the role of global warming. The real problem for the natural gas industry is that it really needs a recovery in industrial gas demand to help smooth out the industry’s supply/demand trends, and the latest government economic statistics suggest a mixed bag in that regard.

 So far this year, natural gas prices have fallen from $6 per Mcf at the start to a recent low of $2.50 before rallying back to $5 in recent days. These prices are a far cry from the $13-$14 per Mcf prices achieved in the halcyon days of the summer of 2008. The extended price decline, while partially explained by the fall in industrial gas demand, has largely been attributed to continued over-production of natural gas from the industry’s highly successful gas-shale drilling efforts that are spreading across the country. The growth in the past several years of natural gas production associated with these successful gas-shale developments reversed an eroding production profile for the industry that had existed for decades. The questions facing the industry now are whether gas-shale production will eventually overwhelm traditional natural gas drilling and production efforts and whether it is possible that the U.S. becomes a net gas exporter at some date in the future.

 To help arrest the growth in natural gas production and boost gas prices, producers have cut back their drilling activity by roughly 50 percent since last fall, but because gas-shale wells are so prolific compared to conventional gas wells, the drilling reduction appears to be having limited impact in slowing production growth. In the latest monthly data from the EIA’s industry survey, gas production does appear to be falling, at least on land. The challenge, however, is to try to decipher whether this production decline is real or involuntary.

 Natural gas storage as of September 25th was at 3,589 billion cubic feet (Bcf) out of an estimated industry-wide capacity of 4,000 Bcf. The problem is that natural gas storage facilities are spread around the country in the eastern and western consuming regions and in the gas producing areas. Additionally, there are limitations on the amount of natural gas that can be transported via pipelines from the producing regions to the consuming markets. As a result of these infrastructure limitations, the overall storage capacity ratio may not accurately reflect the true impact that high storage volumes are having on gas production.

 When we look only at industry-wide storage volumes plotted against total natural gas production, the surge in storage appears to be coinciding with a flattening, and now declining gas production.

 The level of gas storage volumes and the amount of injections shows even more clearly how the nearly full storage levels are impacting gas production.

 As total gas in storage has climbed to a record high, even after a roughly 100 Bcf of new storage capacity added, injection rates have fallen to low levels as there is little appetite or room for more gas. Some portion of the fall in current natural gas production has to be associated with involuntary production curtailments. The challenge is to determine how much of a fall-off is due to curtailments and how much is a fall in well productivity.

 To begin to look at this issue, we were provided data for monthly natural gas production in Texas. At this point we cannot vouch for its correctness, but we plotted it against the initial daily production by month for the state coming from the EIA’s Form 914 survey of gas producers. Lastly, we went to the Texas Railroad Commission web site and took only the 2009 monthly natural gas production data currently available, converted it to daily production figures, and plotted that data. The point of the exercise is to show that all these Texas natural gas production data sources are consistent in their pattern – steadily down. The interesting thing is to look at the shapes of the curves for 2009. The production data provided to us shows flat production for several months and then a steep decline. The EIA’s data shows a decline but at a more modest pace for all of 2009. The Texas Railroad Commission data shows a steady decline, but at a much faster rate than the EIA data. Unfortunately, these curves don’t answer the question: Is the decline due to falling natural gas well productive capacity, or is it a function of low prices, or is it due to involuntary cutbacks due to rapidly filling storage capacity?

 Since a lot of Texas natural gas tends to have higher finding and developing costs we suspect that some of the fall in gas production has been due to the weak gas prices. Producers must have been looking at their costs versus market prices and deciding to shut-in gas production. But some of the fall off in production has to be associated with older, less productive wells. Our guess is, however, that between these two explanations, the former is more important than the latter, but we cannot prove this conclusively.

 So while we wrestle to understand the current falling gas production figures, we are drawn back to looking at what the industry is doing with its drilling effort. The sharp fall-off in gas-oriented drilling rigs will eventually take a toll on production, but for the time being one has to be concerned about the recent uptick in the gas-oriented rig count before we know why production has fallen.

 At the same time, when we look at gas production compared to the number of rigs drilling horizontal wells, although we know not all rigs drilling horizontally are seeking natural gas, the strong upturn there could be a precursor of future gas supply challenges since the gas- shale wells, drilled horizontally, are so much more productive than conventionally drilled gas wells.

 The chart of gas production versus the total number of rigs drilling either directionally or horizontally shows a potentially less ominous supply challenge for the natural gas industry.

 The recovery in natural gas prices back to the $5 per Mcf level is certainly a positive for the industry. The latest production figures suggest that gas supplies are shrinking, but the weekly gas injection figures continue to reflect the impact of nearly full storage capacity. We can safely assume that gas production volumes are being reduced due to involuntary well shut-ins. What we don’t know is whether the industry is Wiley Coyote having run off the mountain road and is now suspended in air waiting to fall.

 Is natural gas production about to drop like a rock? Or is it possible we just need to get rid of some of the gas storage volumes with cold weather allowing producers to ramp back up their shut-in wells? That last scenario will come with current or higher winter gas prices. The former scenario suggests a natural gas price that rockets straight up. Unfortunately an exploding gas price will bring with it the seeds of the next price collapse.

 We reiterate our view that without a healthy economy the natural gas market will struggle to regain solid economic footings.

Our Perspective:

The market has presented great opportunites for companies to lock in their natural gas and electric prices in the deregulated market. Many of our clients have found unexpected savings.

Although the market has ticked up in the last couple of days, lack of demand have still kept the market price competitive from what you spent over the last 12 months.

If you have not looked into these opportunities, it still is not too late. Prices are dynamic and timing is everything.

Take the first step and ask the question, ” How much can we save?”

You might be surprised by the answer.

If you would like to know more about growing your bottom line from savings in the natural gas and electric market, feel free to contact us?

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com or leave a comment and we will contact you.

There are no upfront fees and all the savings fall to your bottom line!

 Allen Brooks is a managing director at Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown, a Houston-based energy-focused investment banking firm. This article previously appeared in the October 13 issue of Musings From the Oil Patch.

 

By REBECCA SMITH  as reported in Wall Street Journal

Slack demand for electricity across the U.S. is leading to some of the sharpest reductions in power prices in recent years, offering a break for consumers and businesses who just a year ago were getting crunched by massive electricity bills.

On Friday, the nation’s largest wholesale power market serving parts of 13 states east of the Rockies is expected to report that electricity demand fell 4.4% in the first half of the year. That helped to push down spot market prices by 40% during the first half of this year.

[Electricity Prices Plummet]

Wholesale electricity — power furnished to utilities and other big energy users — cost an average of $40 a megawatt hour in the region, down from $66.40 a year earlier. The price declines in this market, which extends from Delaware to Michigan, come on top of a 2.7% drop in energy use in 2008 over 2007.

The falloff in demand represents a reversal of what has been one of the steadiest trends in business. For decades, the utility sector could rely on a gradual increase in electricity demand. In 45 of the past 58 years, year-over-year growth exceeded 2%. In fact, there only have been five years since 1950 in which electricity demand has dropped in absolute terms.

But this year is shaping up to have the sharpest falloff in more than half a century, and coming on top of declines in 2008, could be the first period of consecutive annual declines since at least 1950.

Dramatic price reductions don’t immediately mean lower power bills for all consumers. That’s because many customers pay prices based on long-term contracts. But lower prices will have a softening effect over time.

In California and Texas, a combination of cheap natural gas and lower industrial demand is putting pressure on prices.

In the Houston pricing zone, which has many power-gobbling refineries and chemical plants, the spot market price was $61.82 in June, versus $129.48 a megawatt hour a year earlier. Power demand in Texas is down 3.2% so far this year due to business contraction and reductions in employment which are causing many households to economize.

Just a year ago, many businesses and residential customers were reeling from electricity prices on the spot market that had spiked to historic highs, driven by high fuel prices and hot summer weather. Some businesses curtailed their operations because electricity and natural gas were too pricey.

[Electricity Prices Plummet]

But the flagging economy has resulted in a slump in demand that has jolted some energy markets. American Electric Power Co. and Southern Co., for example, both reported double-digit drops in industrial electricity use for the past quarter.

Meanwhile, natural gas, which strongly influences electricity prices, has fallen below $4 per million BTUs, or British thermal units. That’s down from $12 at last year’s peak.

For many businesses, the cost of electricity represents one of the few bright spots in a dismal economy. Andy Morgan, president of Pickard China Inc. in Antioch, Ill., which makes fine china, figures his electricity cost is down 30% to 40%.

Last year, when everything was spiking, he looked at different options — including negotiating a fixed-price contract for energy with a supplier. He says he held off and now he’s happy he did.

“We’ve definitely reaped savings,” says Mr. Morgan, adding that “especially in a down economy, you’ll take whatever you can get. That’s one of the few blessings during this storm.”

Slowdowns at major industrial companies such as Alcoa Inc. help account for the decline in electricity usage this year. The recession and drop in consumer demand for products that contain aluminum has caused the company to idle 20% of its smelting capacity world-wide this year.

In the U.S. the company has cut production at smelters, which are traditionally big energy users, in New York, Tennessee and Texas. Kevin Lowery, a company spokesman, said he did not believe that Alcoa has saved much money thus far because the company primarily purchases electricity through 25- to 35-year contracts.

Steel Dynamics Inc. is benefiting from lower pricing. The company operates five steel mills, with four purchasing electricity at spot market prices in Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia. The benefit, though, is smaller than it might be because the steelmaker is producing less steel this year.

“We’re producing fewer tons, but every ton we produce we seek to minimize the costs and electricity is one of those,” said Fred Warner, a company spokesman. Its mills are running at 50% capacity this year, down from 85% capacity last year.

Some wonder whether the deregulated markets of the Eastern U.S., Midwest, Texas and California will be especially hard hit if demand comes roaring back. That’s because utilities in these markets no longer are required to build new resources. It’s left up to the power generators to determine when the market conditions are ripe.

“There’s more supply than demand and prices are really low so it doesn’t make sense to build anything,” says John Shelk, president of the Electric Power Supply Association in Washington, D.C., a group that represents power generators.

Many electricity markets throughout the country have implemented demand reduction programs that give consumers a further incentive to reduce power use. The 13-state PJM Interconnection market has been one of the most aggressive — and has seen one of the steepest price drops.

A new report from the region’s official market monitor found a strong correlation between falling prices and an increase in demand-reduction programs. In the PJM market, energy users can collect money through an auction process for pledging to cut energy use in future periods.

In May, PJM conducted an auction to ensure it will have the resources it believes it will need in 2012-13. About 6% of the winning bids came from those who pledged to cut energy use by a total of 8,000 megawatts in that future period.

Our Perspective:

For those companies faced ith rising utility prices over the past 4 years, there is finally relief in the deregulated market. Prices have fallen due to the decrease in demand.

If you look at you electric bill over the past 12 months you will see that your price to compare for electric supply was most likely over .12 cents per kWh. Current market rates will allow you to lock you supply price in the dregulated market somewhere in the .10+ cent per kWh area. This could provide a 11/2 to 2 cents per kwh savings over the next year or two.

Our clients are finding substantial savings which fall to the bottomline.

Would you like to know more? Give us a call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com . Contact us for a free evaluation You will be surprised by the savings it will provide.

—Timothy Aeppel, Sharon Terlep and Kris Maher contributed to this article.

Real-Time Pricing: Now is the Time. From the September 2009 issue of Building Operating Management magazine. The facililities management resource.

Our Perspective:

Below you will find a great article providing the savings opportunity in the deregulated gas and electric market.

It is true we are finding substantial savings for our clients. Energy Prices are the lowest they have been in the last 3 to 4 years. Our clients are saving from 10% upto 25% over what they paid over the last 12 months on gas and electric supply cost.

Based on annual usage, we have seen small clients saving a couple of thousand dollars over the next year, to our larger clients saving from $90,000 upto $300,000 over the next year. 

What would be the potential savings for your company?

All you have to do is ask. There are no fees involved, the savings fall to the bottom line.

Should you like to know more about the utility savings available for your company call 856-857-1230 or send an email to george@hbsadvantage.com

Enjoy the article, click on the link provided below.

via Sagging Energy Rates Creates An Opportunity for Power Purchasers.