Glacial Energy Declares Bankruptcy

Glacial Energy Holdings, and various retail supplier and other subsidiaries, have filed a Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy.

Included in the Chapter 11 petition are Glacial Energy Holdings, the various Glacial retail supplier subsidiaries, Gridway Energy Holdings, Inc., Negawatt Business Solutions, Inc., and Ziphany, L.L.C.

The bankruptcy was prompted by Glacial’s default on various agreements with EDF Trading North America, LLC and Vantage Commodities Financial Services I, LLC. The Glacial companies, EDF Trading North America, and Vantage have entered into a settlement regarding the bankruptcy process.

Subject to court approval, Vantage Commodities Financial Services I, LLC will provide the Glacial companies with $122 million in debtor-in-possession financing, which will allow the Glacial companies to pursue a “value maximizing sale of substantially all of their assets.”

Vantage Commodities Financial Services I is a stalking horse bidder for the Glacial companies’ assets.

The Glacial companies said that the post-petition financing will allow them to, “maintain crucial business relationships with their customers by continuing to perform under contracts for the retail sale of electricity or natural gas … [and] to continue to perform under certain contracts with utility providers and transportation and distribution service providers.”

Glacial listed liabilities of more than $1 billion, with assets of $500 million to $1 billion.

As of February 28, 2014, Glacial’s existing book of customers is comprised of approximately 200,000 electric residential customer equivalents and 55,000 gas residential customer equivalents across the U.S. A large portion of these customers’ energy consumption and revenue is generated in the northeast U.S., Ohio, Illinois, and Texas (which collectively account for 80+% of revenue), with the remaining portion coming from California and other states.

The filings were made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, 14-bk-

Using an experienced broker like BCC helps you understand the pros and cons of any supplier offer.  This includes their financial viability, which is affected by a supplier’s pricing and hedging strategy, as well as its overhead structure.

Do Power Quality Devices Save Energy?

There are many suppliers that promote energy savings associated with their products of up to 20 percent or more. This sounds like is a substantial benefit, and if you are considering investing in power factor devices, it is important to understand the basis of these energy-saving claims, because they do not apply to all electricity users.  In fact, they don’t apply to most users.

Understanding power factor

Power quality devices that improve power factor can reduce your overall electric bill, while providing little or no energy savings. How is this possible? To answer this question, you must understand the concept of power factor and the difference between active power, reactive power and apparent power.

All electrical equipment requires power to do work; this is called active power and it is measured in kilowatts (kW). Some equipment, such as induction motors or transformers, requires additional power to create the magnetic field needed to operate the device. This is known as reactive power and is measured in kilovar (kVAR). Apparent power, measured in kilovolt-amps (kVA), is the total amount of power supplied (the combination of active power and reactive power). Power factor is the percentage ratio of active power over apparent power. It is demonstrated in the phase relationship between voltage and current; if current leads or lags voltage, power factor is poor.

While power factor is a difficult concept to understand, the important thing to remember is whether your electric bill includes a penalty for power factor. This is because facilities with low power factor draw more kVA, requiring additional generation capacity.

Power factor correction devices, such as capacitors and harmonic filters, can significantly reduce reactive power and improve your power factor rating, but they will have little or no effect on kW power demand or kWh energy use. If your utility charges for low power factor, you can save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent on your this portion of your electric bill, but the actual energy savings from power factor correction is typically much less than 5 percent. (Carnovale 2010)  If your utility does not charge a penalty for a low power factor, these devices will save you absolutely nothing.  If you do have a penalty, remember that the savings percentage only applies to the penalty fee, not your kWH usage.  Most marketers of this equipment do not explain this, unless you are working with a supplier that has the instruments, and the engineer to use them to measure the power factor of your electrical load.  If they don’t, then you will likely be very disappointed.  Power factor correction equipment must be customized to the specific customer.  It is not an out-of-the-box solution that you simply plug in. Don’t be fooled!  Their greatest benefit relate to induction motor devices.

Do your homework

There are opportunities to save money by applying power quality solutions. Power quality devices protect critical equipment, reducing downtime and saving on maintenance and repair costs. In many facilities, power quality devices can improve power factor and reduce utility penalties. While power quality devices can provide a small amount of energy savings in some cases, the energy-saving claims made by some power quality solutions providers are often overblown. It is important to do your homework and carefully investigate any energy-saving claims made by manufacturers before you invest in a power quality solution for your facility.

References

Carnovale, Daniel. “The Truth Behind PQ Solutions and Energy Savings.” Electrical Construction & Maintenance. March 1, 2010.

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Power Quality Guidelines for Energy-Efficient Design Applications. Prepared for the California Energy Commission. January 2003.

Energy Savings Claims from Power Conditioning Equipment

With a variable index price, what is my price???

The market price charge equals the weighted average of the Real Time Locational Marginal Prices (“LMP”) for the zone you are located in for each calendar month. LMPs are hourly wholesale prices in dollars per megawatt-hour (MWh). Wholesale prices are converted to retail prices by adding distribution losses of 4.48% and dividing by 1000 to convert to dollars per kilowatt-hour (kWh).  To this number you add the “adder” that the electicity supplier charges.

If you are interested in source data for market price charges, you can access New England wholesale LMP data on the ISO-NE websiteVisit our resources page for links to the Independent System Operator (ISO) for your particular location:

At the destination page:

  • In Step 1, select “Load Zone.”
  • In Step 2, select your Load Zone.
  • In Step 3, select the start and end dates you wish to receive .
  • Click “Download CSV” (comma separated values) and save the file locally. You can open the file with any text editor or spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel.

In the data file, the LMP data can be found in the eighth column, which is labeled “Real Time LMP.” The twelfth column, labeled “Real Time Status“, indicates the Status of the real time pricing (“preliminary” or “final”). The monthly price will be calculated and posted after the end of each month, when all LMP data for the prior are final.  This is the number that will be used as the monthly LMP price.

Please note that a single query is limited to 45 days worth of data and that hourly pricing data is only available for the past 12 months.

What are the different PPL commercial and industrial rates?

Demand – What is it? Businesses have electric meters that measure both demand for electricity in kilowatts (KW) and electricity use in kilowatt-hours (KWH). Demand is the amount of electricity your business requires at a given moment. All business customers have a demand component of their electric bill. The demand charge is based on your peak demand as measured over a 15-minute period. For our general service rates, demand charges make up 20 percent to 40 percent of a typical monthly bill. Your demand can be controlled through the use of technology. Since demand is such a high component of your electric bill, it is worth exploring these options

What is a kilowatt-hour?
A kilowatt-hour is a measure of electricity use equal to 1,000 watts used for one hour. The electric meter measures how many kilowatt-hours you use. Electricity use is one component of your electric bill.
What rates are available?
GS-1 – This rate schedule is for single-phase service at secondary voltage (208, 240 and 480 volts ).
GS-3 – This rate schedule is for three-phase service at secondary voltage (208, 240 and 480 volts ).
LP-4 – Requires electric service supplied from available lines of 12,000 volts to 69,000 volts or higher where the customer furnishes and maintains all transformers.
LP-5 – Requires electric service supplied from available lines of 69,000 volts or higher. The customer furnishes and maintains all transformers.
LP-6 – Rate LP-6 has a demand charge minimum of 10,000 kilowatts and requires electric service supplied from available lines of 69,000 volts or higher. The customer furnishes and maintains all transformers.

Opportunities for Sales in Electricity and Natural Gas

In tough economic times, there are always slick salespeople who take advantage of the economy to sell dreams. Today, the dream being sold by Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) companies is the recurring commissions of residential electricity sales.  Sell everyone you know to sell everyone they know and you will make a fortune and retire.  The pitch and the web site are slick.  The opportunity makes sense.  It seems like a no-brainer.  But believe me: It is a dream.  It really doesn’t turn out that way.

If you have sales skills and an interest in building a business in commercial electricity and natural gas sales, that is another story.  You build your own business.  Better Cost Control operates as the licensed broker and performs the back office work.  We provide an online portal for CRM, Contact Management, Commission Tracking and Forecasting, plus automatic reminder emails to you and your customers when contracts are approaching renewal dates, so nothing slips by.

We have relationships with more suppliers than any independent electricity or natural gas broker.  This means we can honestly obtain the lowest prices for our and your customers.  You make recurring commissions.  No secrets.  No meetings.  Just honest people who have been doing this since 2002 and plan on continuing to broker energy for the long term.  We’re honest enough to tell you that no sales job provides easy money.  You need sales skills. You need to work hard. You won’t be selling to your friends, but to businesses. Never pay anyone for the opportunity to sell on their behalf.

If electricity and/or natural gas sales might be in your future, call us at 617-332-7767 x150.  Learn more by visiting: http://bettercostcontrol.com/energy-sales-opportunity/

New URL for Residential Electricity in CT, NY and PA

If you would like to save money on residential electricity, visit this new URL: http://www.bettercostcontrol.com

You’ll be surprised how much you can save on your electricity.

Join the thousands that have contracted their electricity

We are pleased to offer our  clients the opportunity to contract their electricity online by simply going to http://bcc.ppandu.com/

This site works for companies and residents in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and soon will handle Massachusetts.

Cut travel and improve communications with Web and Video Conferencing

With the economic downturn, companies everywhere are looking to trim their costs.  Does your company use audio or web conferencing?  If you aren’t, you have an opportunity to reduce travel costs and improve communication.

For audio conferencing, the traditional approach has been to use a pay-per-minute bridging service or use an internal conference bridge.  If you are paying by the minute, the big question is what your rate is.  BCC can help you get a better rate that you have today, in almost every instance.  While you might think your rate is low, you will never know without an outside opinion.

A new technology that is booming is the use of web-based conferencing systems.  These allow you to view everyone with desktop video, while utilizing VoIP to eliminate the per minute phone charges.  Many provider charge a flat rate per month, which can control your costs while increasing your communications capabilities.

Finally, the more traditional video conferencing systems have come down in price and increased in quality.  High Definition video is now reasonably priced, with bandwidth requirements of just 384K to 512K with some vendors.

For more information on how to reduce these costs or for independent support in procuring these technologies, contact Better Cost Control at 617-332-7767 x150.

Benchmarks for Contracts

In looking at outsourcing contracts, if you like the company you are working with, you hope to develop a long term relationship.  Keep that in mind when you draft your contract.  You need to establish benchmarks.

To avoid paying too much, include a mechanism to measure market price benchmarks to allow your prices to go down, if the market dictates.  This will allow you to avoid being locked into a disadvantageous agreement.  Otherwise, years may go down without you realizing that you have been overpaying…and it will be too late.

Cut electricity costs by shutting down unneeded hardware

You can reduce your power costs by simply shutting down desktops computers and monitors when they aren’t in use. This approach can save 50% on electricity costs, says Nemertes Research.

On average, businesses that implemented automatic power management reduced their power consumption by 20%.  That translates to $100,000 for a company with 1,000 desktop computers,

Turning systems on and off can be automated with a variety of software applications for this purpose.  Demand for such software has skyrocketed.  These applications have the intelligence to know when it is OK to shut down a system.   Products typically require a client application installed on each machine. Typical cost is $40 per desktop. 500 PCs at an electricity rate of 17 cents a kwh (using the average of 200 watts) can save $75,000/year by operating only 12 hours Monday thru Friday. The return on investment would be roughly three months.

Buying a phone system?

Buying a phone system is typically a big expenditure for most companies; or shall I say, all companies.  The challenge for the buyer is that you are typically dependant on your trust in the sale representative pitching the product.  Take a step back and think about that.  Have you considered an independant third party consultant to guide you through this process?  You will actually save money, since a consultant understands where discounts can be obtained.  They also understand the pros and cons of all the options, while the sales rep will only share the positives.

Your options today include:

  • VoIP premise based systems
  • Hosted VoIP systems using the internet
  • Hosted VoIP systems using MPLS networks
  • Traditional PBX systems
  • The second hand PBX market

First off, don’t knock the second hand market if you budget is tight.  There is a big market out there and you can save up to 75% if you are comfortable going this route.  For modern new VoIP systems, expect to budget roughly $800 to $1000 per phone, when you factor in network infrastructure upgrades.  For hosted VoIP systems, you can pay as little as $25/month plus the initial investment of $200/phone set; plus any required network upgrades.

Things to consider:

  • Hosted VoIP reduces you initial cost dramatically.  But you pay a recurring fee on every phone, which may cost more over time.
  • What is the total cost of ownership: include annual maintanence and moves, adds, changes?
  • How scalable is the system?  What are expansion costs?
  • What are disaster recovery options?
  • What is the financial stability of the service provider: VITAL for hosted VoIP.
  • What features do you really need versus what are being pitched by the sales people.

Better Cost Control helps companies navigate the phone system procurement process.  We make the process easy and provide the information you need to make the best decision and get the best prices.  Consider using a consultant.  You’ve make a better decision and save money in the process.

Reduce your MPLS network costs by 60%

 you have an MPLS network today that uses dedicated T1 access loops, you may have the opportunity to reduce your network cost by 60%.  While this might not be for everyone, read on.

The qualifications are as follows:

  • Most of your offices require more download speed than upload speed
  • Upload speed of 384K is adequate
  • A failed circuit recovery SLA of 18 hours versus the T1 SLA of 4 hours is acceptable

By using DSL local loops connected to the carrier DSLAM, your MPLS cost per location can be as low as $120 per location.  Those locations that require more than 384K of upload speed will continue with T1 access loops.  The savings are substantial and you will still have the Classes of Service and QoS that makes MPLS superior over VPN over Internet.  While you might frown on an 18 hour SLA, think about the cost savings and whether a backup internet VPN can fill the gap. 

For many companies, DSL loops are a practical solution to reduce your network costs while maintaining the quality of service.  Contact our sister company: MPLS-Experts to learn more.  Visit www.mpls-experts.com or call 617-332-7767 x150