About Deregulation

July 19, 2010

As reported by PSEG

Before Deregulation 

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

After Deregulation

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

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

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

Our Perspective:

Deregulation has presented a great opportunity for busnesses who are spending more than $3000 a month on their electric bills. Open market electric prices are the lowest they have been in over 4 years. HBS clients are saving from10% to 25% on their electric supply cost depending on their uasge patterns. Those businesses that are designed to use more off hours usage, will find the largest opportunity for savings.

To learn more about your opportunity to save in the deregulated energy market  email george@hbsadvantage.com

Just the Facts!!!

July 16, 2010

With the current electric market prices being very desirable, deregulation has hit full stride in New Jersey.

If you are a business spending over $3000 a month on electric, you will find real savings by shopping your account with one of the 8 to 10 deregulated providers selling electric in NJ. Hutchinson Business Solutions is an independent energy management consultant who represents all of the major deregulated providers selling electric in NJ. We have been bring deregulated savings to our clients for over 10 years.

 If you are not currently participating in the deregulated savings opportunity, the timing could not be better.

 Just a word of precaution!

Due to the current market growth there are many new faces showing up hawking the merits. Be sure to know all the facts before making any decision.

First, the price to compare from your local provider includes sales tax. Should you be taking to a consultant or broker, ask if the price is fully loaded. ie: does it include the 7% loss allowance (to deliver 100,000 kwh of electric, the providers must actually send 107,000 kwh, for there is a 7% loss in transmission), also does it include 7% sales tax.

Both these components are included in the local provider price to compare.

We see many companies that fail to include these items in their presentation and therefore you are not comparing apples to apples. There are times we found that when you actually add these 2 factors, the price is higher than what you are currently paying.

Know the facts.

Ask the right questions.

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

Remember… The local provider buys electric on the wholesale market and then bills their customers retails pricing. HBS puts their clients in the wholesale position.

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

Visit s on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

PSEG Summer Rates

July 14, 2010

As reported by ElectricityWatch.org

Basic Generations Service (BGS) rates for PSEG electric customers have been established for the new year.  BGS rates are the default rate for customers serviced by the utility PSEG who have not shopped for a competitive electricity supplier.  The new rates will go into effect on June 1.

PSEG default rates for the supply portion of the bill are divided into a summer term that begins June 1 and extends through the end of September, and the non summer term that begins October 1 and extends through the end of May 2011.  The default BGS rates include the entire Supply section on customer PSEG bills.  This is often an area of confusion to business customers who look into the benefits of competitive rate shopping.  The total price to compare takes into account the generation rate as well as capacity charges.  When customers just compare the per KWh rate on their current bill they are not getting an apples-to-apples comparison. 

In order to realize the actual price to compare, PSEG business customers should take their total supply charge and divide it by the total amount of KWh they consumed for the bill period.  This will result in a KWh rate that can be compared to offers from competitive suppliers.  This price to compare will include state taxes of 7%.  So if the competive rate does not include taxes (as will be stated on the contract) multiply the rate by 1.07 to get the true comparison rate.

The bottom line is that there are competitive electricity suppliers available for business customers serviced by PSEG.  Depending on the size of the customer and the type of electricity product chosen (fixed, variable, green energy, long term), savings can be as much as 25%.

Our Perspective:

They bring up a great point, know what you are paying with PSEG and if you are shopping your account, ask if the price is fully loaded.

The price presented from any deregulated provider must include the base price, plus 7% loss allowance(to deliver 100kw of electric, you must send 107kw, for there is a 7% loss in the transmission), plus 7% sales tax. This is an apples to apples comparison.

To learn more 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

The deregulated natural gas market is presenting great opportunities for savings for those commercial accounts that are spending a minimum of $3000 per month.

With the recent drop in natural gas prices over the last year, Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is providing savings from 8% to 20% depending on who your local provider is.

Your local provider currently buys natural gas wholesale and then bills their clients retail pricing. HBS puts our clients in a wholesale position.

When looking at historical pricing over the last year, we show that if you are currently a South Jersey Gas customer, your saving would be about 8%. PSEG and NJ Natural Gas customers would find a 15% savings, while Elizabethtown natural gas clients would be saving 20%.

We are currently advising clients interested in participating in the deregulated natural gas savings to float the market. This will continue to benefit them as long as the market stays flat or continues to go down.

If we were to look at fixing a term contract of 12 to 24 months, we often find that the fixed or locked price is actually higher than the 12 month average you have currently been paying. There are clients that do choose to lock a price, for they do not want to deal with market fluctuations and they are interested in adding certainty to their cost. The only problem that may arise is that if the market remains flat or goes down, they are unable to get out of their contract. Should market prices go up, they will not be affected for the price will remain the same.

Should a client choose to float the market, they will take advantage of the lower market prices and if we see the market start to spike up, they will always have the option to lock a price anytime during the term of the contract.

It has always been our goal to make the client aware of all the options available to them and to ultimately making them comfortable with the decision they choose.

Would you like to know more about opportunities to save in the deregulated natural gas market? Email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

We have found that savings is the deregulated natural gas and electric market provide great opportunities to add savings to your company, reducing cost and increasing your bottom line.

PSEG Price to Compare

June 24, 2010

As reported by electricitywatch.org
PSEG Electric Rates for 2010March 7, 2010

Basic Generations Service (BGS) rates for PSEG electric customers have been established for the new year.  BGS rates are the default rate for customers serviced by the utility PSEG who have not shopped for a competitive electricity supplier.  The new rates will go into effect on June 1.

PSEG default rates for the supply portion of the bill are divided into a summer term that begins June 1 and extends through the end of September, and the non summer term that begins October 1 and extends through the end of May 2011.  The default BGS rates include the entire Supply section on customer PSEG bills.  This is often an area of confusion to business customers who look into the benefits of competitive rate shopping.  The total price to compare takes into account the generation rate as well as capacity charges.  When customers just compare the per KWh rate on their current bill they are not getting an apples-to-apples comparison. 

In order to realize the actual price to compare, PSEG business customers should take their total supply charge and divide it by the total amount of KWh they consumed for the bill period.  This will result in a KWh rate that can be compared to offers from competitive suppliers.  This price to compare will include state taxes of 7%.  So if the competive rate does not include taxes (as will be stated on the contract) multiply the rate by 1.07 to get the true comparison rate.

The bottom line is that there are competitive electricity suppliers available for business customers serviced by PSEG.  Depending on the size of the customer and the type of electricity product chosen (fixed, variable, green energy, long term), savings can be as much as 25%.

Our perspective:

We found this to be a very informative article. When we are speaking to a prospective client, we alway go into great details discussing the importance of comparing a price to compare.

Things to know

7% Loss factor – In order to deliver 100,000 kwh of electric to a destination a supplier must ship 107,000 kwh. This 7% allowance must be factored into a deregulated electric price received from a provider. This loss factor is already in PSEG price to compare.

Sales Tax – PSEG also has 7% sales tax figured into their price to compare.

We find that many times potential clients are mislead. They are quoted the price for the supply only and told the actual price to compare. As usual, the savings are too good to be true.

Actually, the savings can be very good but you have to define what is the actual price they are offering. Is it fully loaded. Does it inclde the 7% loss allowance plus the 7% sales tax.

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

Natural Gas Deregulation

June 24, 2010

Large market swings offer you big savings.

If you have been following market prices for natural gas, over the past couple of years, you have probably noticed the large market swings. 

In 2008, PSEG prices ranged from $1.07 per therm in February to $1.64 per therm in July.

In 2009, prices dropped and we saw $.889 cents per therm in January with a low of $.496 cents a therm in September. 

This is good news for those interested in saving money in the deregulated natural gas market. PSEG and SJ Gas buy natural gas on the open market wholesale and sell it to their clients retail.

Should you be spending a minimum of $5,000 a month on natural gas for yor business, there is a big opportnity for savings.

With so much market fluctuation, we have been advising our clients to float their accounts, based on the market index.  If you are a PSEG client and chose to float the index over the past 12 months, you would have saved 12%-15% on your supply bill. SJ gas customers would have saved 8%, while NJ Natural gas clients would have saved 13%

Choosing to float the market index does not preclude you “locking in” on a fixed price at any time during the term of the contract. Conversely, if you choose a fixed price, you are unable to change to a float when market prices go down.

Note: Since the prices of natural gas have been so low, we have also seen this play a large effect on the reduction of electric prices in the deregulated market. Did you know that 30% of the electric generated is made from natural gas?

Want to learn more about opportunities to save in the deregulated natural gas market or deregulated electric market email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

By Chrysa Smith

It’s been said that choice is the ultimate luxury. Since 1999, New Jersey businesses and residents have had the luxury of choosing which utility company from which to purchase gas, electricity, and heating fuel; but with choice often comes challenge. Along with their new options and the predicted benefits of a more competitive marketplace, New Jersey residents have also had to deal with the changes and questions raised by the state government’s deregulation of energy providers.

The Balance of Power

In 1999, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU)—the governing body for electric, oil and natural gas services—introduced a bill to deregulate the state’s energy industry for residential customers. (New Jersey’s commercial energy market had been opened up earlier in what some say was an attempt to keep local corporations happy and committed to staying put.)

The goal of the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act (EDECA) was to enable New Jersey energy consumers to shop around and chose the energy provider that best suited their budget and service requirements. The free-market rationale hinged on the prediction that enough healthy competition between providers would keep prices down while offering better service and reliability to customers. Under the auspices of the federal Department of Energy, New Jersey took measures to safeguard free market competition for electricity and gas, including the requirement for the NJBPU to “unplug” power stations with higher costs than other available energy sources.

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According to Betty Kennedy, public relations coordinator for Conectiv Power Delivery, an independent utility provider based in Carney’s Point, New Jersey. “Up till 1999, when the state voted to restructure the energy industry, each company had a specific service area.”

Conectiv—which services eight counties in southern New Jersey—claims that the deregulation has reduced their customer’s rates by 10.2 percent, saving them a cumulative $290 million during the years from 1999 to 2003.

But the story is a bit more complex. Conectiv, and the states other 21 licensed electric suppliers and 29 licensed natural gas suppliers are, as their names indicate, suppliers. They provide the hardware—the lines and cables—and once those are in place, they also provide the power that flows to New Jersey commercial and residential customers. That power may have been purchased from companies several states away, or it could come from oil, coal or renewable energy sources. Energy may even be bought and sold much like the stocks in an investment portfolio. If it’s important for a customer to know where the cool flow from their central air system comes from, or the juice that runs the building elevator, post-deregulation, that customer now has a voice.

According to Terry Moran, manager of Retail Choice for Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) in Newark, New Jersey’s largest energy provider, “Since the transition period for New Jersey, the largest change is that we no longer own generation. We are now a pipes-and-wires company.”

Enter the ESCOs

Though the playing field has changed somewhat, the delivery companies—called Energy Service Companies, or ESCOs – have remained essentially the same. Since deregulation, it’s the transmission that has changed. Out-of-area transmission companies, called third-party suppliers, are now in competition with area companies who once dominated their own market.

“The restructuring act has allowed New Jersey to move forward to look for better prices in the state,” says Kennedy. “Our customers pay less than they did in ’99.” This has been accomplished, thanks in part to the annual Basic Generation Service, or BGS, auction. Each February, according to PSE&G spokesperson Karen Johnson, transmission companies gather together to offer energy packages to service providers. Suppliers can pick up an energy contract for a year or two, or more at wholesale auction.

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“For the customers that have chosen to stay with [us],” says Johnson, “we secure the power through the annual energy auction that allows them to buy in a wholesale [market], where prices are competitive. PSE&G is the utility that is part of the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) parent company, who also owns PSEG Power—the unregulated generation side.”

And, says Kennedy, much like commodities of all kinds, the buying can be ‘locked in’ at a specific rate—called fixed pricing—or float with the market value through its natural cycle of ups and downs—called variable pricing.

Not a Flawless System

While the provision of greater choice and potentially lower costs seems appealing, the program has not been without its problems. According to a report published by The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group’s Citizen Lobby and Law & Policy Center in Trenton, “New Jersey pays 50 percent more than the national average for our electricity. And energy providers, for the most part, are offering the same old fossil-fuel and nuclear-generated electricity.” For the programs first four years, the rates were frozen for electric utilities, and some customers actually saw savings of 10 percent on their electric bills. Yet now, as pricing caps come off kilowatt rates, it remains to be seen what the full affect will be.

“One of the biggest fallacies of deregulation,” says Janet Garofalow, assistant vice president and manager of sales and marketing for Castle Power LLC—a Harrison, New York-based fuel oil and natural gas service provider with a satellite office in Englewood—”is that we can’t guarantee that we can save our customers money in comparison to the utility commodity cost when they fix a price at a certain time. We can’t predict what the market will do going forward.”

Garofalow goes on to explain that to a large extent, the market is controlled by the weather. “In the winter, one reason for gas prices rising is the cost of transportation for the gas, due to increased demand. In the winter of 2002, when we never wore a winter coat, pricing came down.” To a large extent, the energy market is a gamble in commodities futures—where knowledge of the market and good planning come into play.

Maneuvering Through the Maze

One of the biggest attractions to third-party energy suppliers has been the advent of aggregation. And it may just be one of the largest benefits to multiple dwelling communities sharing real estate management companies. According to Alyssa Weinberger, director of regulatory affairs for Hess Energy Marketing in Woodbridge, “Buying bulk would be advantageous. With an aggregation of individual customers into larger groups, you can get better deals.”

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Hess—along with several other suppliers who deal with commercial and industrial customers—have done just this for multiple dwelling communities, and even area school districts, in order to reduce costs. Management companies should be aware of these and other options for energy conservation under current energy systems.

Most ESCOs and third party suppliers will tell you that their marketing efforts have not been anything like those of the deregulated phone companies, and that the resulting switching of suppliers—at least on the residential side—has been marginal. Right now, the BPU estimates that third party suppliers represent less than six percent of service to gas customers and fewer than 3.5 percent for electric supply switchers.

According to Johnson, PSE&G currently has 1.6 million gas customers and two million electric customers. “Some have both gas and electric,” says Johnson. “We serve about 75 percent of the state’s population on a north-south diagonal that follows the New Jersey Turnpike.”

“The percentage of customers who have changed is not large,” adds Moran. “On the electric side, most of those who have switched have been the largest customers. We roughly have about 18 percent of our [megawatt] load switched. For gas, we have roughly 30,000 customers who have switched to third party suppliers.”

If you think your association might benefit from joining that percentage, all it takes to make a change is a phone call and a signed contract—which some suppliers say can be done by a board member. Yet, in this transition period, and in the age of all too common legal proceedings, having the input of an informed accountant and an attorney review would be prudent. Especially in the case of buying power for entire communities, the stakes are high, contracts are involved and costs of litigation even greater.

“You need a service provider who you can go to and ask questions,” Garofalow adds, “Although [the energy business] isn’t rocket science, it is complex.” Before your board even thinks of making any changes in your utility provider, it makes sense to be sure that the people responsible for the purchase of energy understand the terms, the bills and the contracts.

According to Moran, “Billing can be done in a few different ways. For Basic Generation Services (BGS), all charges can be contained in one utility bill. Third party suppliers have a variety of options that are set forth in their contracts.”

Like a fixed mortgage, a fixed rate is fairly straightforward, and can be budgeted for accordingly. For a variable rate, it helps to know the index to which the rate is tied. According to Weinberger, “Some large customers have been put on hourly pricing versus a fixed rate—the advantage being that you pay for what you really use, with the ability to see where spikes are.”

Eric Hartsfield, a spokesperson for the NJBPU, indicates there are many options. “In the case of a condo, you may have one company providing service for the common/general areas, while another may provide service to the individual unit owners.”

Other Considerations

It also helps to be informed about the latest programs from providers that may benefit your community down the road.

“We recommend that dual-fuel boilers be put in if possible and if it makes economic sense to the customer,” says Garofalow—providing the option of burning natural gas or alternate fuel as the state of the market may dictate. Programs like the New Jersey Clean Energy Program (www.njcleanenergy.com) offer multiple promotions that provide cash incentives for changing systems that are cleaner or more efficient. So, when a community looks at their energy costs, they might consider replacement time for heat pumps, air conditioning systems and boilers in addition to their bills. If timing is right, there could be savings all around.

Information is out there, however, in the form of conferences, customer awareness programs and directly from the BPU (www.bpu.state.nj.us). The more informed the management company, condo or co-op board, the easier it will be to maneuver through this kilowatt maze without it becoming a drain on an association’s time and budget.

To find out more about saving opportunities in the NJ deregulated utility market email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

Chrysa Smith is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor to The New Jersey Cooperator.

PSEG Rates for 2010

May 24, 2010

As reported by Electricwatch.org

PSEG Electric Rates for 2010March 7, 2010

Basic Generations Service (BGS) rates for PSEG electric customers have been established for the new year.  BGS rates are the default rate for customers serviced by the utility PSEG who have not shopped for a competitive electricity supplier.  The new rates will go into effect on June 1.

PSEG default rates for the supply portion of the bill are divided into a summer term that begins June 1 and extends through the end of September, and the non summer term that begins October 1 and extends through the end of May 2011.  The default BGS rates include the entire Supply section on customer PSEG bills.  This is often an area of confusion to business customers who look into the benefits of competitive rate shopping.  The total price to compare takes into account the generation rate as well as capacity charges.  When customers just compare the per KWh rate on their current bill they are not getting an apples-to-apples comparison. 

In order to realize the actual price to compare, PSEG business customers should take their total supply charge and divide it by the total amount of KWh they consumed for the bill period.  This will result in a KWh rate that can be compared to offers from competitive suppliers.  This price to compare will include state taxes of 7%.  So if the competive rate does not include taxes (as will be stated on the contract) multiply the rate by 1.07 to get the true comparison rate.

The bottom line is that there are competitive electricity suppliers available for business customers serviced by PSEG.  Depending on the size of the customer and the type of electricity product chosen (fixed, variable, green energy, long term), savings can be as much as 25%.

Our Perspective:

Are you currently participating in the NJ Deregulated electric market? Current market rates are presenting great opportunity for savings.

Hutchinson Business Solutions is an independent energy management company. We have been providing savings for our clients in the deregulated natural gas and electric market since for over 10 years.

Our clients are finding savings from 10% to 25%. Should you like to know more email george@hbsadvantage.com . Local providers buy natural gas and electric on the open market at wholesale prices and then bill their clients retail.

We put our clients in a wholesale position! Many companies are finding deregulated utilities to be a great area for savings and increased cash flow.