Energy Market Update and Forecast

As 2014 came to a close traders and ESCos (Energy Supply Companies) forecast an energy market with a winter similar to the winter of 2013-2014. The polar vortex came and wreaked havoc on pricing across the board. Some utilities and ESCos are still trying to recover from the unexpected costs. Perhaps meteorologists were overly aggressive regarding their predictions for this winter since they did not predict the polar vortex or its impact almost at all last winter. Getting walloped by Mother Nature last year certainly created a bit of a nervous feeling environment in the energy space to ensure that the same problem would not happen again.

 

So far, other than a few cold weeks (some in November and early January) we have not experience a winter as expected. In Boston, it was close to 50 degrees on Christmas Day, practically unheard of. The supply of natural gas has exceeded the demand so far, which in turn put pressure on pricing, driving it down.  However, the latest weather forecasts indicated that the next 5 days will have mild or warm temperatures, but then a quicker than previously though transition back to cold for most of the country with a possible arctic outbreak in the next two weeks. The forecast can give clues as to what the market may do, but unfortunately Mother Nature and the stock market do not always follow patterns that we wish. Exports to Mexico are at an all-time high and current gas prices are near production cost.

 

Keep in mind your company’s risk tolerance when signing a contract. If you think the market is going to go up a fixed rate is best; if you think the energy market is going to go down a variable rate (with components fixed for a given period of time) is best; but if you are a large consumer who wants to have both a block and index price (part of your load is fixed while the rest floats) is how to be in the “market game” but not have too much skin in it. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball but BCC can help you navigate through the nuances of this process to ensure your company is as protected as possible.

Regulators to increase electric rates

This week WMECo (Western Massachusetts Electric Company) and National Grid in Rhode Island asked regulators to increase electric rates. The utilities are seeking raises in pricing by almost 75% for some commercial clients. Most commercial customers in WMECo see increases of around 60%. Rates if approved would go into effect January 1, 2015.

Constraints on the natural gas pipeline in Northeast are pushing electric pricing upwards, because natural gas is used to produce more than half of New England’s electricity. Experts believe expanding gasline capacity as utilities would like would likely only reduce the problem rather than solve it. Based on proposed projects, pipeline relief is not expected until at least 2018 at this point.

For further information regarding % increases in WMECo:

http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoomAPI/api/Attachments/Get/?path=14-BSF-B4%2fAttach3.pdf

 

Take control of your energy cost and contact BCC today.

Nstar Default Electric Service Rates to 24¢/kWh

Pennelec Price to Compare

Nstar has filed with the Massachusetts DPU default electric service rates for the period beginning January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015. Be prepared for winter rate increases. Weather and energy experts predict this winter to be as tough as last winter.

The fixed default electric service rate for commercial customers is 14.427¢/kWh for January 2015 through June 2015.

The fixed default electric service rates for industrial clients range from 20.1-20.3¢/kWh for January 2015 through March 2015.

January shows as the highest cost month so far at almost 24 cents for some users. Provide your company with price protection through a fixed price contract. As of now, commercial and industrial clients can lock in a 36 month contract with a January start date of a rate closer to 11¢/kWh. Do not play the risky wait and see game. Once the cold weather really moves in there will be a strong impact on the market.

The rates remain subject to DPU approval

Additional rates are below:

Nstar Massachusetts Basic Service Rates    ¢/kWh

Commercial

Fixed Rate:

Jan-Jun       14.427

 

Monthly Rate Option

Jan 2015       21.953

Feb 2015      21.733

Mar 2015      13.504

Apr 2015      9.855

May 2015      8.210

Jun 2015       9.767

 

Industrial NEMA

Fixed Rate:

Nov-Jan       20.248

 

Monthly Rate Option

Jan 2015       23.277

Feb 2015      22.993

Mar 2015      14.176

 

Industrial SEMA

Fixed Rate:

Jan-Mar       20.170

 

Monthly Rate Option

Jan 2015       23.492

Feb 2015      22.567

Mar 2015      14.151

Here is a link to the filings: http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoomAPI/api/Attachments/Get/?path=14-BSF-C4%2fInitial_Filing.pdf

 

Do not play the waiting risk game. Take control of your costs, and provide your company with the peace of mind of price protection and budget certainty. Contact Better Cost Control to find out what rate your business is eligible to receive ASAP.

New PTC Default Service Electric Rate for PennPower

PennPower has published new price to compare (PTC) default service electric rates for the period of December 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. The published commercial rate is $0.07433/kWh.

As of today a commercial customer can lock in a price as low as $0.07259/kWh for 36 months. This rate is not only lower than the utility’s PTC default service electric rate but also is fixed and guaranteed for 12 times the period of time. A client wishing to obtain a contract to budget and have some price protection but is unsure of locking in for a 36 month period has the option to choose other term lengths. As another example, the fixed price for a 12 month term for a commercial customer may be as low as $0.07405/kWh, which is lower than PennPower default service electric rate and is fixed for four times the length of time the utility rate is guaranteed.

Do not play the waiting risk game. Take control of your costs, and provide your company with the peace of mind of price protection and budget certainty. Contact Better Cost Control to find out what rate your business is eligible to receive.

 

Here is a link to the filings: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/customer_choice/pennsylvania/pennsylvania_tariffs.html#WPPFilings

New PTC Default Service Electric Rate for Pennelec

Pennelec has published new price to compare (PTC) default service electric rates for the period of December 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. The published commercial rate is $0.07576/kWh.

As of today a commercial customer can lock in a price as low as $0.06728/kWh for 36 months. This rate is not only 11% lower than the utility’s PTC default service electric rate but also is fixed and guaranteed for 12 times the period of time. A client wishing to obtain a contract to budget and have some price protection but is unsure of locking in for a 36 month period has the option to choose other term lengths. As another example, the fixed price for a 12 month term for a commercial customer may be as low as $0.06908/kWh, which is 9% lower than Pennelec default service electric rate and is fixed for four times the length of time the utility rate is guaranteed.

Do not play the waiting risk game. Take control of your costs, and provide your company with the peace of mind of price protection and budget certainty. Contact Better Cost Control to find out what rate your business is eligible to receive.

 

Here is a link to the filings: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/customer_choice/pennsylvania/pennsylvania_tariffs.html#WPPFilings

New PTC Default Service Electric Rate for Met-Ed

Met-Ed has published new price to compare (PTC) default service electric rates for the period of December 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. The published commercial rate is $0.07433/kWh.

As of today a commercial customer can lock in a price as low as $0.06585/kWh for 36 months. This rate is not only 15% lower than the utility’s PTC default service electric rate  but also is fixed and guaranteed for 12 times the period of time. A client wishing to obtain a contract to budget and have some price protection but is unsure of locking in for a 36 month period has the option to choose other term lengths. As another example, the fixed price for a 12 month term for a commercial customer may be as low as $0.06794/kWh, which is 13% lower than Met-Ed default service electric rate and is fixed for four times the length of time the utility rate is guaranteed.

Do not play the waiting risk game. Take control of your costs, and provide your company with the peace of mind of price protection and budget certainty. Contact Better Cost Control to find out what rate your business is eligible to receive.

 

Here is a link to the filings: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/customer_choice/pennsylvania/pennsylvania_tariffs.html#WPPFilings

New PTC Default Service Electric Rate for West Penn Power

West Penn Power has published new price to compare (PTC) default service electric rates for the period of December 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. The published commercial rate is $0.07947/kWh.

As of today a commercial customer can lock in a price as low as $0.06190/kWh for 36 months. This rate is not only 22% lower than the utility’s PTC default service electric rate but also is fixed and guaranteed for 12 times the period of time. A client wishing to obtain a contract to budget and have some price protection but is unsure of locking in for a 36 month period has the option to choose other term lengths. As another example, the fixed price for a 12 month term for a commercial customer may be as low as $0.6462/kWh, which is 19% lower than WPP default service electric rate and is fixed for four times the length of time the utility rate is guaranteed.

Do not play the waiting risk game. Take control of your costs, and provide your company with the peace of mind of price protection and budget certainty. Contact Better Cost Control to find out what rate your business is eligible to receive.

 

Here is a link to the filings: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/customer_choice/pennsylvania/pennsylvania_tariffs.html#WPPFilings

Massachusetts Default Electric Service Rates as high as 25¢/kWh

National Grid has filed with the Massachusetts DPU default electric service rates for the period beginning November 1, 2014. Be prepared for winter rate increases. Weather and energy experts predict this winter to be as tough as last winter.

The fixed default electric service rate for commercial (G-1) customers is 15.138¢/kWh for November 2014 through April 2015

The fixed default electric service rates for industrial (G-2 & G-3) clients range from 17.3-17.9¢/kWh for November 2014 through January 2015.

January shows as the highest cost month so far at almost 25 cents for some users. Provide your company with price protection through a fixed price contract. As of now, industrial clients can lock in a 12 month contract with a November start date of a rate closer to 12¢/kWh. Do not play the risky wait and see game. Once the cold weather really moves in there will be a strong impact on the market.

The rates remain subject to DPU approval

 

Additional rates are below:

National Grid Massachusetts Basic Service Rates    ¢/kWh

 

Commercial (G-1, Streetlights)

 

Fixed Rate:

Nov-Apr       15.138

 

Monthly Rate Option

Nov 2014       9.856

Dec 2014      15.891

Jan 2015      20.893

Feb 2015      20.315

Mar 2015      12.840

Apr 2015       9.251

 

 

Industrial NEMA (G-2, G-3)

 

Fixed Rate:

Nov-Jan       17.829

 

Monthly Rate Option

Nov 2014       9.273

Dec 2014      18.499

Jan 2015      24.901

 

 

Industrial SEMA (G-2, G-3)

 

Fixed Rate:

Nov-Jan       17.321

 

Monthly Rate Option

Nov 2014       9.207

Dec 2014      18.074

Jan 2015      23.916

 

 

Industrial WCMA (G-2, G-3)

 

Fixed Rate:

Nov-Jan       17.395

 

Monthly Rate Option

Nov 2014       9.163

Dec 2014      18.022

Jan 2015      24.218

 

All rates include the Basic Service Administrative Cost Adjustment Factor

 

Contact BCC as soon as possible to find out what pricing is available to protect your company’s budget. Do your best to stay ahead of the cold.

PECO announces new Price to Compare

PECO in Pennsylvania has announced its new price to compare for September 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014. The new rates show an increase of 8.9% for small commercial and industrial customers and an increase of 9.5% for medium commercial and industrial clients. For large commercial and industrial clients, pricing from the utility is based on the hourly price plus a fixed adder which changes monthly. Though the adder is due to go down a bit the cost of the actual supply is predicted to increase, in which case these clients would see increases as well. Based on today’s rates locking in now would result in a lower price than the published price to compare and guarantee a price for longer period of time than just a couple of months.

First Energy post new PA electric utility rates

These newly posted electric utility rates may initially appear to be strong compared to what is being currently being offered by alternate suppliers. However, don’t be fooled. Long term fixed pricing from alternate suppliers fixes your rate for an extended period of time. The PTC (price to compare) from these utilities only fixes rates for two months. All the intel we have received lately indicates that this will be another cold long winter. If consumers wait to contract for winter months until after the low PTCs expire they may be in for a sticker shock when the next set of rates is announced.

Savvy clients may pay a bit of a higher rate right now but will lock in for an extended period of time before rates increase in the expensive winter months. Price protection is vital to maintain budget certainty and to protect your business against the price hikes that are certain to come with another tough winter season. Many will tell you that the reason to contract is to save money. Though that is often a pleasant side effect, it is cannot be guaranteed. The real purpose of contracting is to in essence obtain an insurance policy for your energy needs.

Educated consumers understand the benefits to knowing what costs will be through a fixed price contract long before receiving a bill. This greatly aids in planning and running a successful business. If a business owner feels strongly that pricing will go down a variable rate can allow components of pricing to be fixed while allowing the majority of the supply cost to float. This allows one to take control of part of the costs while not being out of the “market game.” This still provides a greater level of protection than simply remaining on the default electric utility rates.

 

Links to new electric utility rates for PA:

https://www.firstenergycorp.com/customer_choice/pennsylvania/pennsylvania_tariffs.html

 

West Penn Power: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/dam/customer/Customer%20Choice/Files/PA/tariffs/WPP-WPP-PSU-Supp-241-182-7-15-14.pdf

Price to Compare: $0.06016  Sept 1 to Nov 30

 

PennPower: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/dam/customer/Customer%20Choice/Files/PA/tariffs/Penn-Power-Supp-116-7-15-14.pdf

Price to Compare: $0.07277  Sept 1 to Nov 30

 

Met-Ed: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/dam/customer/Customer%20Choice/Files/PA/tariffs/Met-Ed-Supp-62-7-15-14.pdf

Price to Compare: $0.06715  Sept 1 to Nov 30

 

Penelec: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/dam/customer/Customer%20Choice/Files/PA/tariffs/Penelec-Supp-62-7-15-14.pdf

Price to Compare: $0.07414  Sept 1 to Nov 30

 

 

Electric Rate Violation Cases in PA

Consumers take care when entering the world of deregulation and shopping electric rates. Taking advantage of the options of deregulations is not all about price and working with a licensed, experienced broker can save you from future headaches.

Five retail electric suppliers in PA are at risk of license suspension or revocation due to alleged deceptive practices and other violations. Complaints filed with the PUC by the Pennsylvania Attorney General and Office of Consumer Advocate are against Blue Pilot Energy LLC; Energy Services Providers Inc. d/b/a Pennsylvania Gas & Electric (USG&E); Hiko Energy LLC; IDT Energy Inc. (who has denied the allegations); and Respond Power LLC. The violations of certain PUC codes include: deceiving or untrue savings guarantees especially versus the PTC, disclosure language inadequately stating the terms of potential price variability, prices charged were inconsistent with suppliers’ disclosure statements, violation of the state’s Telemarketer Registration Act, customers unable to reach suppliers to address complaints, in addition to other allegations specific to one or more suppliers. The PA AG is pursuing license suspension or revocation and refunds to customers.

The PUC has previously ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to enforce violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law though the AG broadly alleges they occurred in this case.

A case involving alleged slamming, Do Not Call violations, and other marketing violations against ResCom Energy LLC has reached a proposed settlement with the PA PUC. Under the terms, ResCom Energy LLC would be required to pay $59,000.

These previous examples are of actual violations. What needs to be kept in mind is that the PA PUC may not regulate the rates charged by electric generation suppliers. In reaction to a customer complaint against Blue Pilot Energy LLC, a judge concludes the Commission has no jurisdiction over suppliers regarding that an EGS has charged it an “unreasonable, unjust or illegal” rate for electric generation service. After an initial three-month period, the customer’s electric rate increased from about 8¢ to 39.99¢. Though a shocking increase in rate to the customer, the ALJ’s decision was in favor of Blue Pilot as no violations of PUC code or law are alleged or sustained.

“Since the Commission lacks the authority to regulate rates charged for electric generation service, it lacks the authority to order a refund or credit to the Complainant,” the ALJ said.

The recent AG complaints against several other suppliers are based not specifically around high rate amounts but rather allegedly in violation because they are marketed as being “competitive.”

The “competitiveness” cannot be measured solely again the default service rates. So the AG included an analysis finding that EGS rates based on PJM spot prices should not have exceeded 23¢.

Regarding the specific customer complaint against Blue Pilot, the disclosure statement and agreement indicated that the initial price would be for a period of 90 days. Consumers must be very careful and read the contract terms and fine print of their agreements. This is why having an expert in the field advise you is of utmost importance

“After ninety days the disclosure statement and agreement provides that the price could vary on a month to month basis due to several factors, including the cost of wholesale electric market prices. The disclosure statement and agreement contains no cap on the amount by which the rate could increase,” the ALJ said, concluding that the 39¢ rate was therefore not in violation of any disclosure statement received by the customer.

Make sure you have a high volume broker with deep experience such as Better Cost Control guide you through the buying process to avoid any surprises. We work for you not the energy suppliers and are experts at navigating potential energy suppliers. Do not get blinded by seemingly very attractive rates.

NJ Sues Competitive Electric/Gas Suppliers 

Three third-party energy suppliers – Palmco Power NJ, LLC & Palmco Energy NJ, LLC; HIKO Energy LLC; and Keil & Sons, Inc., d/b/a Systrum Energy have all had suits filed against them by The New Jersey Attorney General, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU). At this time Systrum Energy is no longer servicing clients, based on information provided by the State.

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman alleged these companies made false promises of savings on monthly electric and/or natural gas bills to attract consumers. The clients ultimately were locked into paying exorbitant bills to these electric/gas suppliers. Palmco and HIKO were also accused of slamming (when a shopper is switched to an electric/gas supplier without that customers’ authorization or awareness). The three companies have accrued a total of 1,463 consumer complaints (at the time of this article) through the Division of Consumer Affairs, the BPU, and the Better Business Bureau. At present the State is working to retrieve compensation for the customers impacted.

Hoffman clearly stated these behaviors were isolated to the electric/gas suppliers in question and in no way should reflect on the deregulated market as a whole. The state hopes to send a message to the ESCOs (energy supply companies) in the field that questionable business practices will not be tolerated. New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Dianne Solomon said “While today’s announced allegations against a few energy suppliers should send a clear message to the energy supply industry, consumers should understand that there is still a robust market of alternative energy suppliers to be considered that may offer savings on electric and gas bills.”

These are examples of why the consumer needs to be cautious when navigating the energy industry and having a knowledgeable and ethical consultant is of utmost importance. There are many electric/gas suppliers or brokers offering rates that seem too good to be true. As always if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. As experts in the field for over 12 years, our sole focus is to navigate the sea of sharks and find the best fit for our clients based on price and contract terms.

Links to New Jersey Suits

 Palmco

 Hiko

 Systrum