By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

Brace yourself for power shopping – and we’re not talking about a marathon outing at the mall.

Nearly two dozen energy companies are scrambling to sign up Peco Energy Co.’s biggest, most lucrative customers – the commercial and industrial users – in preparation for electric deregulation at the end of this year.

About 110 customers of the Philadelphia utility attended a seminar Tuesday at the Union League to learn more about the implications of electric choice. The bottom line: Large customers should shop around for power, because their competitors are, too.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for you to save money,” James H. Cawley, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, told the seminar, sponsored by one supplier, GDF Suez Energy Resources.

The PUC is promoting energy choice as an option for customers to fashion a deal specific to their needs. A school district, for example, might bargain for a lower price because its facilities are closed in the summer, when power costs more. A business promoting its green image might buy from renewable suppliers that generate from wind, solar, or hydroelectric plants.

“You have a choice to get your electricity from somebody else who can be much more attentive to your individual needs, your own risk tolerance, your own environmental desires,” Cawley said.

Under the Electricity Generation Choice and Competition Act, utilities hived off their power-generation units and will now make their money strictly by distributing power on their lines.

The utilities’ rates were capped at 1996 levels to allow them to ease the transition to competitive markets.

For Peco, the rate caps will be lifted at the end of this year. Customers who don’t want to shop around can stay with the utility’s “default rate.”

For large customers, Cawley said, the default rate is likely not the best deal because it contains a significant “risk premium” for Peco to lock in prices now. Alternative suppliers are more nimble in fashioning rates to suit the needs of specific users.

“Don’t sit there and take the default rates,” he said, without endorsing any specific alternative supplier. “You’re silly to do that.”

Cawley said many customers were still confused over the roles played by the traditional utility that distributes power and those companies that generate it. Peco, as a distribution company, will still provide customer service and billing for most users.

“People don’t understand this distinction between distribution and generation,” he said. “Your electric-distribution company does not care if you shop. . . . In fact, they’d like you to shop.”

Since the rate caps came off on Jan. 1 for customers of PPL Electric Utilities, the Allentown company reported that 32 percent of its total customers have switched to alternative suppliers, according to the PUC.

But nearly 80 percent of its large commercial and industrial customers have switched. All told, 75 percent of PPL’s load – the number of kilowatt hours transmitted through its wires – is now supplied by alternative companies.

Marketing efforts aimed at Peco’s residential customers are not expected to materialize until late in the year – and officials expect only a small percentage of customers will be inclined to switch.

The reason: Though PPL’s default rate went up more than 30 percent this year, Peco’s is expected to increase only about 10 percent from current rates, Peco president Denis O’Brien said in a recent interview.

But commercial and industrial customers – who represent about 10 percent of Peco’s 1.6 million customers – are a different story.

Even a small percentage of savings is attractive to a big customer whose annual electric bill might total millions of dollars.

“The larger customers are keyed into this because it’s such a big part of their costs,” said Tom Petrella, regional sales manager for Hess Energy Marketing, which also had a Center City educational seminar Tuesday.

Many of the 21 suppliers registered with the PUC to supply electricity to large Peco customers are the marketing arms of other utilities with familiar names: Con Edison Solutions, First Energy Solutions, UGI Energy Services, and Allegheny Energy Supply Co.

Exelon Energy Co. is among the competitors selling power directly to Peco customers – both companies are owned by Exelon Corp.

Some suppliers have adopted more public marketing campaigns: PPL EnergyPlus, a sister company of PPL Electric, bought the naming rights to the new professional soccer stadium in Chester this year to help raise its profile.

GDF Suez, the company that held the Union League seminar Tuesday, bills itself as the “biggest company you’ve never heard of.”

The $109 billion French company is the world’s largest utility, has 200,000 employees, according to Forbes magazine, and is among the largest suppliers of power in the United States.

Like many suppliers, it has opened an office in the Philadelphia area.

Our Perspective:

Deregulation is about to begin in Jan 2011 for customers in the Peco territory. If you already have not started looking at the deregulated savings opportunity, now is a great time to start.

Electric commodity prices are very competitve offerring great opportunities to fix your supply price and save on your purchasing of electric for the next 12 to 24 months.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent deregulated energy consultant. We have been providing deregulated savings to our clients for over 10 years.  HBS has strategic partnerships with all the major providers currently marketing to the PA electric market.

You may ask, why should we use an independent consultant when we can deal with the energy companies directly.  The value we bring is that we are able to shop the entire market, offering an apple to apples comparison of what your current price to compare is from your local provider vs the deregulated providers.

You must be careful when comparing prices; for not every providers are including all the cost to make a correct comparison.

When speaking to the various deregulated, you must ask if the  prices are fully loaded.

In order to deliver 100,000 kwh of electric, a provider must send 107,000 kwh of electric due to the loss in delivering the electric. This cost is included in your PECO / PPL price to compare. You must verify if this cost is also included in the deregulated provider price.

Also the Peco price to compare also includes PA gross receipt tax. This also must be included.

As you can see, there are several factors that must be included to make an objective decision as to the best value. This is the expertise that HBS brings to our clients. We allow our clients to do what they do best (run the day to day business), while we become your legs and do the project for you.

There are no additional fees for our services. We receive a small residual from our strategic deregulated providers during the term of the contract. All the providers choose to use independent energy consultants; for it allows them to be more competitive in the market prices. We are not paid a salary, do not share in any of their benefits. That way, you will find that many times our prices are more competitve.  We add the benefit of  being able to define which providers are the most competitive for your unique market usage and will show you the variances in pricing.

Should you like to know more about saving in the deregulated utility market email george@hbsadvantage.com
Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/20100616_Peco_Energy_customers_at_seminar_on_electrical_deregulation.html#ixzz0wVg1QQ7q
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 As reported by Pennsylvania PUC

Electric customers in Pennsylvania were among the very first in the United States to have the ability to choose the company that supplies their electricity. You may be able to choose your electric generation supplier (EGS) in areas where competitive electricity supplies are being offered. Consumers may be able to secure supply rates below the prices offered by their utility. Generation supply costs comprise the majority of the average electric bill. Consumers are encouraged to proactively engage competitive suppliers – whose price is unregulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) – to obtain pricing information for the generation portion of their bill. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.

The PUC has engaged consumer advocates and industry experts in efforts to mitigate any price increases in future electric generation prices. The PUC has been working to educate consumers; develop strategies to remove barriers for suppliers providing competitive electric service; approve phase-in or pre-payment plans and direct all utilities to file such programs if electric rates increase by more than 25 percent; update low-income programs that provide customer assistance; and implement default service pricing that reflects the least cost to consumers over the long term. We also are continuing to implement reasonable, cost-effective programs that consumers and companies can implement to conserve energy or use it more efficiently.

Why are there rate caps, and why are they expiring?

Under the 1997 Electricity Generation Choice and Competition Act, electric rates – which are comprised of generation, transmission, and distribution – were capped to ease the transition to competitive markets.

The 1997 law allowed residential customers to have direct access to and purchase power from independent EGSs, while still having their electricity physically delivered by electric distribution companies (EDCs) regulated by the PUC. The law also permitted the EDCs to recover “stranded costs.” Stranded costs include investments in infrastructure made before the law was passed that may have become uneconomic and unrecoverable in a competitive environment. With limited exceptions, once rate caps expire, the companies can no longer collect for stranded costs.

In exchange for the recovery of stranded costs, generation, transmission and distribution rates were capped at 1996 levels. The caps on transmission and distribution rates all have expired. After litigated proceedings before the PUC, the generation rates were extended for many of the electric companies. As determined by those proceedings, all utility rate caps will expire by Jan. 1, 2011.

 

Caps 

Company

 

 

Generation Rate Cap Status

 

 

% of PA Ratepayers

 

 

Citizens Electric Co.

 

 

Expired

 

 

0.1

 

 

Duquesne Light Co.

 

 

Expired

 

 

10.6

 

 

Pennsylvania Power Co.

 

 

Expired

 

 

2.8

 

 

Pike County Light & Power Co.

 

 

Expired

 

 

0.1

 

 

UGI Utilities Inc.

 

 

Expired

 

 

1.1

 

 

Wellsboro Electric Co.

 

 

Expired

 

 

0.1

 

 

PPL Electric Utilities Inc.

 

 

Expired

 

 

24.6

 

 

Metropolitan-Edison Co.

 

 

Dec. 31, 2010

 

 

9.5

 

 

Pennsylvania Electric Co.

 

 

Dec. 31, 2010

 

 

10.6

 

 

PECO Energy Co.

 

 

Dec. 31, 2010

 

 

27.8

 

 

West Penn Power Co.

 

 

Dec. 31, 2010

 

 

12.7

 

 

 
 

What will happen once the generation rate caps expire?

The PUC expects that customers may see an increase in their bills after the expiration of rate caps. While Pennsylvania consumers’ rates have been capped, the market prices for electricity have risen. The magnitude of those increases will depend upon market prices when the EDC acquires its power.

Do I have to pay what the EDC is charging for electric generation (default service)?

Customers do not have to pay the EDC prices. They will have the ability to choose between an EDC and competitive supply prices for the generation portion of the bill. An EGS may be able to offer a better price for the generation. Customers will be able to compare the EDC price to a competitive supplier price to find the best option.

The amount you might save depends on issues such as:

• How much you pay now for electric generation supply;

• How much electricity you use;

• How market prices change in the future;

• What products and service are included in the EGS price such as renewable energy produces or other demand side and conservation services; and

• The price offered by the suppliers serving your area.

Who can take part in Electric Choice?

Every electric customer has the option to take part in electric choice, pending the availability of competitive suppliers in the service territory. As of January 2009, the Commission licensed more than 45 EGSs. While the Commission may license an EGS, it cannot force the EGS to offer services.

Can I save money by choosing a competitive supplier?

In the territories where rate caps already have expired, an increase in the number of EGSs offering services to residential customers has occurred. In some areas, the EGSs rate is as much as 10 percent cheaper than the default service price offered by the utility. An EGS may be willing to negotiate on price or other services to entice you into switching suppliers. The Office of Consumer Advocate offers consumers a direct comparison of the utility prices versus the supplier price. You can view the “Price to Compare” at http://www.oca.state.pa.us.

Remember, regardless of who generates your electricity, you will still continue to call your EDC for emergency services and questions regarding your residential service including outages. The quality, reliability, and maintenance of your electric service should not change as it is still monitored by the Commission. However, if you have a question about your generation charges you should first call your EGS.

If I choose a new EGS, can I change my mind and choose another EGS?

Yes. However, you should carefully check the terms of the agreement with the EGS, especially for length of contract and any penalty clauses.

I participated in a pre-pay program with my utility, but would like to choose another supplier. What happens to my money?

The money that you deposited in a pre-pay plan and any interest will be applied to your account, no matter who supplies your electricity.

For further information, contact the Public Utility Commission:

Call

1-800-692-7380

For people with speech or hearing loss, dial 7-1-1 (Telecommunications Relay Service)

Write

PA Public Utility Commission

Bureau of Consumer Services

P.O. Box 3265

Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265

Visit our website

January 2010

 

 

as reported in flettexchange

Electricity rates in Pennsylvania could soon be on the rise. Businesses, federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and residents could soon experience an increase in their electric bills. The increase in price stems from the deregulation of the Pennsylvania electricity markets.

In the 1990s Pennsylvania lawmakers moved from a regionally monopolized electricity market to a competitive electricity market. Pennsylvania consumers were paying about 15% more for electricity than the national average, so the decision to embrace a competitive electricity market was easy to make. Legislators restructured electricity generation to promote more competition. However to achieve the transition from a regional electricity market to competitive electricity market, legislators had to institute rate caps to protect from unpredictable price fluctuations and implement a “stranded costs” provision for electricity providers to pay for former infrastructure investments. “In return for the loss of their monopoly status, utilities were allowed to collect a surcharge above the price of electricity, otherwise known as stranded costs. Rate caps already have expired for six utilities statewide, and the transition period will end for all state utilities in 2011—ending the rate caps and the collection of stranded costs.” 4/9/2009, Pennlive.com, “Electricity Deregulation is a Win for Pennsylvania” –Elizabeth Bryan. As rate caps and the collection of stranded costs expire the Pennsylvania electricity market could experience unwanted changes during difficult economic times.

Electricity deregulation was established to promote competition and market efficiency. Unfortunately this is not always been the case. In 2001, California experienced the negative repercussions of a deregulated electricity market. California residents were forced to endure volatile electricity prices, while rolling blackouts plagued the state, and electricity could not be supplied during peak hours. For Californians, electricity deregulation equaled disaster.

The expiration of electricity rate caps could bring unwanted price increases to Pennsylvania. Consumers could experience percentage increases in their electric bills as regional rate caps expire. The following map exhibits regional Pennsylvania electricity territories and the electric providers that serve those areas. So far the consequences have been minor with rate cap expirations only affecting 14.1% of the Commonwealth. However from January 2010 – January 2011, rate caps for five major electricity service territories expire and the Pennsylvania electricity market will be completely deregulated.


Image Source: Pennsylvania Utility Choice (www.puc.state.ps.us)

Electricity rate caps for the Duquesne Light Company, PPL Electric Utilities, Inc., West Penn Power Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company, Metropolitan Edison Company, and PECO Energy Company expire between January 2010 – January 2011. This comprises 85.9% of Pennsylvania’s electricity market and could have an impact on electricity prices going forward. Fortunately Pennsylvania has learned from California’s missteps. Lawmakers are forcing utilities to diversify their electricity risk by securing both short- term and long-term contracts. This mixture of contracts could be helpful in mitigating risk, unlike California whose focus was concentrated on short-term contracts only. Regardless of the outcome, the Pennsylvania electricity market is one to monitor in the months and years to come.

Is there a way for Pennsylvanians to protect themselves from the upcoming deregulated electricity markets and future price uncertainty? The answer is yes. Pennsylvanians’ best solution is to embrace renewable energy. Solar energy can solve Pennsylvania’s electricity deregulation issue and act as hedges to potential higher electricity prices. Solar facilities level the playing field and allow businesses, federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and residents to participate in renewable energy, become less dependent on electric companies, and produce electricity during peak demand times. Parties that install solar facilities have the ability to achieve a fixed or reduced cost of electricity for an extended period of time, generate Alternative Energy Credits (AECs) (which are actively traded on Flett Exchange), and embrace clean energy that is absolutely vital to our environment. Pennsylvania also offers state incentives for affordable green energy. If you are a resident interested in solar click on, Pennsylvania Sunshine Program and for businesses interested in solar, click Pennsylvania Solar Energy Program to learn how to achieve clean energy.

Our perspective:

Hutchinson Business Solutions is an independent energy management consultant. We have be providing deregulated energy solutions to our clients for over 10 years. We represent all the major providers selling natural gas and electricity in both NJ and Pa.

The local providers buy energy on the open market wholesale and then bill their customers at retail prices. We place our clients in a wholesale position.

To learn more about saving opportunites in the dergulated utility market email george@hbsadvantage.com or call  856-856-1230.

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Peco Deregulation

May 24, 2010

As reported by Electricitywatchdog.org

Lower My PECO BillMay 10, 2010

PECO is trying to prepare their customers for increases in their electric rates in 2011 by unleashing multiple programs.  Recently, the PA Public Utilities Commission announced that Pennsylvania utility companies will be increasing the rates for electricity delivery service in 2011.  In addition, price caps will be expiring in 2011 in the PECO area – as well as Met-Ed, Penn Electric, and West Penn – which are expected to increase default generation rates by as much as 20%.

PECO is rolling out numerous programs to help customers cope with increases including the PECO Smart Home E-Audit, Smart Lighting Discounts, Smart Home Rebates, and Smart Appliance Recycling.  Alot of smart programs, but probably the smartest way consumers will be able to reduce their electricity bill is by shopping for an alternative supplier that will offer a reduced rate versus the PECO price to compare default rates. 

PECO will continue to deliver power to those customers who they are currently delivering to as well as continue to send invoices out.    The decision to choose an alternative electric genaration company will simply be a choice to pay less.  We will be providing contact information and rates for alternative providers as we get closer to 2011.

Our Perspective:

The caps will be lifted on electric prices in Peco territory as of Jan 2011. This will present many opportunities for savings for larger users in the dergulated energy market.

Currently, clients in the PPL terrirory are finding savings of about 2 cents per kwh. We are finding the price to compare in PPL territory to be about $.105 cents per kwh. Depending on their annual usages, we have been able to find opportunities to lock the electric supply prices in the low to mid $.08 cent per kwh area.

We are currently speaking with several clients in the Peco territory and have told them to wait for Peco to release their price to compare for 2011. This will help us to use this as a basis of the opportunity presented.  Sources have told us that this information will be available by the end of May or early June 2010.

Should you like to know more about opportunities for savings in the Peco electric deregulation market email george@hbsadvantage.com

Or visit us in the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

Posted on Fri, Jan. 1, 2010

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

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

That hasn’t happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s not serious money?” he asked.

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

“It’s nonsense,” Cawley said.

Our Perspective:

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

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

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

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

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