As reported by David Fein  Post-Gazette

For nearly a decade, Pennsylvanians paid the same rate for electricity with no increase in price to account for inflation and global increases in commodity prices. No other commodity in Pennsylvania was price-fixed this way. Not natural gas or heating oil or water.

Yet for some reason, the end of electricity rate caps in Pennsylvania was predicted to be the apocalypse for businesses. But Jan. 1, 2010, came and went, and doomsday never arrived.

In fact, Pennsylvania has a good story to tell when you look back at the first quarter of electric competition in the PPL Corp. service area and look ahead to the opening of the Allegheny/West Penn market locally in 2011.

No less than 27 power providers are competing to serve residents, businesses, schools, universities, hospitals and units of local government where PPL used to have sole purview — and such competition can mean lower rates for customers. As a result, in only three months, 363,000 residential users opted for a new company to deliver their electric needs.

PPL estimates that 55 percent of large industrial users have taken advantage of the competitive marketplace and switched to other suppliers, as well. As important, this doesn’t include the businesses that have weighed their options and exercised their choice to stay with PPL.

After only one quarter in an open electricity market, it’s already clear the entrepreneurial spirit of Pennsylvania is alive and well. Businesses, universities and local governments are making smart decisions that not only help their bottom line, but that also provide stability across several industry sectors during an uncertain time in our national economy.

That level of performance reveals how Pennsylvania is well on its way to having one of the most successful competitive markets in the nation.

States from Texas to New York have opened their electric markets to retail competition but none had shown such immediate and dramatic results. Pennsylvania’s numbers will continue to grow as more businesses and other customers explore an open and competitive market — and as new marketplaces open on Jan. 1 for customers in areas serviced by Allegheny Power, Metropolitan Edison, PECO and Penelec.

While it’s early to forecast savings for Pennsylvania’s electricity customers, we can look to the experience of states like Illinois that have had competitive electricity markets for more than a decade. Over that period it is estimated that retail customers saved in excess of $1 billion. Pennsylvania has made the right decision for the long term.

Competition also has bred the development of new products and services not typically found in closed, monopoly-regulated markets. Today’s market opens the door to new possibilities for businesses to embrace environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative energy sources such as wind or solar energy.

For example, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp. did something many would have thought impossible a few short years ago; it purchased wind energy certificates to power its Business Expo.

New energy companies in the PPL market also are challenging each other on new technological fronts to provide savings for their customers. Businesses no longer have to wait for monthly electric bills to set energy budgets; they can monitor their energy usage on more frequent intervals. This gives businesses the opportunity to plan ahead as to how they use energy, depending on what it costs at any given time.

Energy companies vying for business in a competitive, open marketplace foster innovation and new technology. In time, as customers become more sophisticated in exploiting the power of competition, they will demand greater innovation and specialized services from electric suppliers, and new products and services will be developed that provide greater control over energy usage and how that energy is generated.

The development of competition helps families and businesses control energy costs and allow units of government to preserve ever-shrinking resources. Such possibilities would never have developed under the old regulatory system.

Pennsylvania policy makers have developed a well-structured environment for competition to flourish — which will bring many benefits to Pennsylvanians for years to come.

Our Perspective:

The deregulated market offers great opportunities for savings for those companies that are paying more than $3000 a month for electric. HBS has clients in the PPL territory that are saving over 20%.

Granted the cost may be higher than what you have paid in the past 12 months, but when PA lifted their rate cap in Jan 2010, prices jumped.

The current PPL price to compare is arond $.105 cents per kwh. Depending on your usage patterns and cuurent market conditions, we were able to lock our clients in the $.082 to $.086 cent range.

Starting in January 2011, Peco customers will be joining the deregulated market. For commercial clients, Peco will be making 4 purchases from Sept 2009 to sept 2010. They have completed 3 of the 4 purchases and will be releasing a price to compare shortly.

For more information on saving in the deregulated utility market in PA email george@hbsadvantage.com

Would you intentionally overpay for your phone service… monthly rent… or maybe a new car?

Of course not…

Then why would you overpay for your natural gas or electric bills?

Lower Rates… For the first time in the last 4 years deregulated natural gas and electric prices are lower than the local provider charges.

You now have a choice and can choose lower energy rates without any risk or local service change. No-Hassle!

Your local providers buy natural gas and electric on the open market at wholesale prices and then bill their customers at retail prices.

We put our clints in a wholesale position.

If you are a business spending a minimum of $3000 a month a piece on your electric or natural gas, you may qualify for deregulated savings.

We conduct a no-hassle evaluation. There is no-risk and there is no-cost. We simply find you the best rates available.

All we need is a copy of your latest provider invoice.

Start Saving and join thousands of happy customers who have already lowered their energy bills!

Makes Sense!

Why Overpay?

To learn more email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230

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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Positive Feedback

May 11, 2010

Our last couple of articles focused on savings in the deregulated utility markets; specifically, energy or voice and data.  We have received a great deal of feedback not only from our clients but many prospective clients, as well.

 The deregulated price of both gas and electric is the lowest it has been in 4 years.  Over the past year, we have seen commodity prices continue to fall; opening up a great opportunity for savings.  But only if you qualify!

What is the qualifier?

 Your monthly natural gas and/or electric supply cost must be a minimum of $5,000.00 each.  When you look at your utility bill, you will note that the price for each utility is made up of 2 factors:

 Delivery….This part of the bill is state regulated and is the charge for bringing both natural gas and electric from the providers’ hub to your location. This price makes up approximately 30% of your overall gas and electric cost. You will see that delivery charges are listed under each utility.

 Supply…. This part of the bill is deregulated and is the only area where you can shop to find savings.  But to shop intelligently, you need to know the factors that affect supply costs.

Buyer Beware…

 If you are not aware of how the price is determined, it may look like a great deal. Once you sign a contract and receive the invoice from the new provider, you will find that the cost is always higher than what the “professional” consultant told you.  And when you inquire why there is a price discrepancy, they will tell you what the consultant did not. 

 All electric supply charges must include a 7% NJ state sales tax and 7% loss allowance.

 Don’t be fooled!   Many “new to the market” Energy Management Consultants either do not know or will not tell you! 

 If you are bidding on electric in the state of NJ, the BPU states that the price to compare (PTC) must contain 3 factors:

  • Supply cost
  • 7% loss allowance
  • 7% sales tax 

 In order to shop your account with multiple providers, these 3 factors should be included to make an apple to apples comparison.

 Hutchinson Business Solutions is an independent energy management consultant. We have been involved in the deregulated utility market for the last 10 years and have strategic partnerships with all the major providers selling energy in NJ and PA.

 Our expertise is in allowing our clients to continue to perform their core competency while we provide smart solutions for smart business.

 Should you like to know more about the opportunities for savings in the deregulated utility market email george@hbsadvantage.com or

call 856-857-1230.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

By Andrew Maykuth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Perspective:

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

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