As printed in philly.com

 

LindaPeterson  of West Chester was eager to switch from Peco Energy Co. at the end of last year.
She signed up for an alternative electricity supplier offering avariable rate that would fluctuate depending upon market conditions.

AsPeterson  discovered, variable rates sure can vary.

For a few months this year, Peterson’s rate was very attractive, indeed. But it went up
58 percent from May to June. At 15.63 cents per kilowatt hour – that’s just the
generation charge – her last bill was about $23 more than it would have been had
she stayed with Peco.

“I knew there would be some variation, but that’s just a huge, huge increase,” said
Peterson, who is semi-retired.

A representative from her supplier, Palmco Power PA L.L.C., did not return a phone call about
Peterson’s bill. But its customer-service department, in an unsigned e-mail,
blamed an “unusual” wholesale price spike for the increase.

“Thankfully,however, shortly after the wholesale price increase, wholesale prices dropped,and our
price billed to our customers dropped accordingly,” it said.

In Pennsylvania’s buyer-beware world of deregulated utilities, Peterson can’t do much but switch to
another supplier. Her agreement, like most with variablerates, does not carry an
early cancellation fee.

According to the state Public Utility Commission, a supplier can bill a variable-rate customer
at whatever price it believes the market will bear, even if the customer
originally thought he or she was getting a discount.

A company also can offer different rates to different customers. The variable rate that is
on a customer’s bill does not have to be the same as the initial price posted on
the PUC’s website, http://PAPowerSwitch.com.

“A supplier could have one rate for PowerSwitch . . . while offering a different rate
door-to-door . . . yet a different rate for enrolling by mail,”Denise McCracken,
the PUC’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “They could offer me one rate . . . my
neighbor a different rate (as long as they are not discriminatingon the basis of
race, gender, etc. of course).”

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where dozens of electrical suppliers are competing, customers
accustomed to a lifetime of regulated utility prices now face a dizzying array of
choices – fixed rates, variable rates, and”green” rates from renewable-power
generators. Next year, Peco customers will begin seeing rates that vary hourly,
according to the market.

More than 20 percent of Peco customers have switched since Jan. 1. But despite promises of
savings, most residential customers seem unwilling to leave the protective comfort of the regulated utility.

On Monday, the Retail Energy Supply Association launched a campaign to educate customers
about the benefits of switching, but it faces headwinds generated bycustomers such as Peterson, who share their experiences.

“My neighbors are very scared about switching,” said Peterson, a clinical social worker with a
small private practice.

Peterson was an early adopter of electricity choice. She had switched suppliers in the late
1990s, when limited deregulation was introduced into the Peco market. Competitive
suppliers eventually pulled out because they could no longer beat the utility’s
capped rates. But when Peco’s rate limits were lifted at the endof 2010,
competitive suppliers returned en masse.

Peterson signed up with Palmco, the marketing arm of a Brooklyn fuel-oil dealer, which posted a
price on the PUC’s website. She liked the company’s low-key marketing,compared
with the blustery direct-mail appeals she received from bigger suppliers.

“The fact that they weren’t doing a lot of heavy marketing, I guess I trusted them
a little,” she said. “I didn’t expect them to escalate the price like that.”

According to a review of Peterson’s bills, Palmco’s rate was very generous during the first
few months. It charged her an introductory rate of 5.78 cents perkilowatt hour,
clearly a below-market 42 percent off Peco’s rate. But by May,Palmco’s rate had
increased to 9.91 cents – just about the same rate Peco was charging.

And then in June came the whopping 58 percent increase – to 15.63 cents per kilowatt hour.
Peterson averages about 475 kilowatt hours a month.

The owner of Palmco, Robert Palmese, did not return a phone call. But his
company’scustomer-service department offered this response:

“Our family has been in the energy business since 1938, 73 years. We know from experience
that it is always in the best interest of our customers to keep prices for energy
as low as possible.”

In an interview in October, Palmese offered reassurance to customers who might consider
his company.

“We have very casual marketing,” he said. “We’d like our customers tolike us. Just try
us, you may like us.

“You are always free to leave.”

 

Our Perspective

HBS is a independent deregulated energy management consultant. We have been providing deregulated energy solutions to our clients since 2000. We have heard stories like the one experienced above, countless times.

While the energy market prices are at their low point, it would be smart to lock into a fixed price contract for natural gas or electric for a minimum of 1 year but also be willing to look at the 2 year option. Fixed priced contracts normally provide a 10% to 15% savings under what Peco ic currently charging.

Do not be fooled by the variable rate options.

It is a good marketing ploy….

no contract…

month to month float….

But you will only pay more in the long run.

 

To learn more about deregulated opportunities for yopur business email

george@hbsadvantage.com

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

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

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

AUSTIN – Electricity rates in Texas have soared well above the national average under a 10-year-old deregulation law, according to a study by a coalition of cities.

“As this report illustrates, consumers have paid too much for too long under deregulation,” said Jay Doegey, chairman of the Cities Aggregation Power Project, a non-profit coalition of 103 municipalities.

An industry group immediately challenged the findings, saying the report was based on “flawed reasoning” that resulted in erroneous conclusions.

“The simple fact is that in most parts of the state, there are lower competitive prices today than when prices were regulated,” said the Association of Electric Companies of Texas. “The Texas competitive market is working, even if CAPP thinks otherwise.”

The conflicting viewpoints point to a contentious battle in the 2009 Legislature over electricity rates. Several lawmakers say they plan to pursue legislation to protect consumers from rising costs on a number of fronts, including insurance and utility rates.

The CAPP report examined the impact of Senate Bill 7, which was passed by the Legislature in 1999 in what its sponsors said was an attempt to rein in rising electricity rates.

Our Perspective:

The deregulated utility market was set up to make utility costs more competitive. So far, it seems not to have worked. Prices have increased instead of becoming more competitive. Supply prices have tripled in the last 8 years.

As electric supply cost continue to increase, so does the demand for electricity and this is going to create another problem. It is projected that the demand for electricity is growing about 11/2% a year. In the next 8 – 10 years, we will not be able to support this growth in demand with the existing facilities we have.

What are our options?

Some are saying rolling brownouts! That doesn’t sound like a solution.

What are we going to do about this problem?

The real answer, reduce the demand off the grid and rebuild the existing electric infrastructure and start investing in alternative energy.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com