Ameren Illinois Customer to Decrease in their Electricity Rates

Ameren Illinois customers will notice a decrease in their electricity bill. Beginning in January residential customers will see a savings of $1.70 per month. This is the second consecutive year Ameren has filed for a rate decrease. Due to grid modernization initiatives, Ameren has been able to save its customers about $45 million in the past 6 years.

“We made a commitment to our customers and state regulators to build a stronger and more reliable electric distribution system and keep rates stable,” said Richard J. Mark, chairman and president, Ameren Illinois. “The plan approved today demonstrates that prudent cost management and solid project execution can help our customers save.”

While the decrease in rates for Ameren customers is good example of how utilities can effectively reduce rates, many other utilities are requesting rate increases and customers are paying more and more each year. Commercial customers do have a choice; however, they can opt to control their costs by signing a fixed price contract. Although the market prices can change if a commercial customer signs a fixed price contract their rate will stay the same for the duration of the contract, which could save them money each month. This also allows businesses to budget for their energy expenses and predict what they will spend for the duration of the contract term. For more information, click here.


Supplier Spotlight: American Electric Power

American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP) is a public utility holding company that engages in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity for sale to retail and wholesale customers.  AEP is one of the 80 companies in the “Electric Utilities” industry. Compared to its competitors, AEP has lower earnings, but higher gross revenue. Their service area consists of Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.  Most of AEP’s shares are owned by institutional investors, which indicates that it is poised for long-term growth. In a Week Herald article AEP is said to beat its competitors on 8 of 15 factors including profitability, institutional ownership, dividends, valuation, earnings, analyst recommendations and risk.

AEP is just one of the suppliers we currently work with to help our customers stabilize their electricity and natural gas costs. Third party suppliers allow customers in deregulated states to compare pricing from multiple sources. Looking at your utility bill you can often find a Price To Compare. This price will tell customers how much the utility is charging for energy generation and if you find a supplier with a lower cost then you will save money. Everyone enjoys saving money, but the ability to stabilize energy costs is often very advantageous for commercial energy customers as well. Signing a low rate fixed price contract can give businesses the best of both worlds.

Working with Better Cost Control will allow business customers to shop the market without having to do any of the leg work. All they need to do is send us their most current utility bill and we will get pricing from a number of suppliers to see if they could be saving money or if there would be a better rate to lock in now to avoid market volatility later.  We offer complimentary no obligation quotes, so feel free to reach out to us to see how we could help your company. Click here to find out more.



The Reason Energy Utility Companies are in a Panic

Commercial businesses are often looking for ways to cut costs. One of these costs is energy procurement. Every business needs their lighting and heating, but often are looking for ways to spend as little as possible. Meanwhile, Utility companies are looking to make high profits through selling energy.

Currently utility companies are seeing a flat line in sales and many are starting to worry about commercial customers who are looking to behind-the-meter storage solutions. The only way for utility companies to increase sales levels are to raise the price or the demand charge. By business customers having solar powered batteries to run during specific times their demand charge decreases. This has many utility companies are worried about plummeting profits.

An increase in the price for each kilowatt-hour sold, which needs to be approved by regulators is not ideal for utilities. Conversely the demand charge is a measurement of the highest average 15-minute electrical flow during the billing cycle. If the customer uses a lot of power during a short period of time then these charges will be a larger part of their bill and vice versa. Currently this charge is estimated to be between 30 and 70 of commercial customers’ bills.

According to a recent white paper published by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Clean Energy Group for about 28 percent of commercial customers using solar powered batteries to cut their electricity consumption would be advantageous. This not only would decrease electric usage, but also revenue collected from demand charges.  This shift could decrease a commercial company’s bill by as much as $2,000 a month according to one study of a theoretical Big Box retailer.

With these potential decreases in profits it’s no wonder that Utilities are worried about the future of the energy market, while commercial customers are continuing to look for ways to save costs.


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Eversource Files Fall Default Basic Service Rates

Variable Electric Rate

Eversource (previously Nstar) has filed new electric basic service rates for the period beginning October 1, 2015 through December 31.

New Nstar basic service rates, in ¢/kWh, are below:

Small Business (Rate B1, B2, G1, G2, 33) - NEMA
Fixed July 1 through December 31: 9.868
Monthly Variable Rates:
October:                           8.224
November:                         10.412
December:                         15.482
Large C&I (Rate G3, T2) - NEMA

Monthly Variable Rates:
October:                           7.205
November:                          8.810
December:                         11.979

Fixed Price Option (Oct.-Dec.):    9.430

Large C&I (G3, T2) - SEMA
October:                           7.110
November:                          8.703
December:                         11.982

Fixed Price Option (Oct.-Dec.):    9.307

For WMECO, Western Mass Electric, the new basic service rates for Medium and Large Commercial will be:

Medium & Large C&I (G-2, T-4, T-2, T-5)

Monthly Variable Rates:
October:                           7.221
November:                          9.179
December:                         12.756

Fixed Price Option (Oct.-Dec.):    9.848

Visit Eversource to see rates.

Nstar rates in Massachusetts Remain High

Nstar has filed new electric basic service rates for the period beginning July 1, 2015, and the fixed rate for residential and small C&I customers remains above (or near) 10¢/kWh.

The current Nstar fixed residential and small C&I basic service rates are about 14¢/kWh.

The Nstar basic service rates below, in cents/kWh, include the Default Service Adder and Renewable Portfolio Standard and Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard adder.

Small C&I, Streetlighting
Fixed Price Option Jul. 1, 2015 – Dec. 31, 2015: 9.868

Monthly Variable Rates:
July:          9.313
August:        8.639
September:     7.855
October:       8.000
November:     10.224
December:     15.377

Large C&I-NEMA (rates are still out to bid, as of this posting)

Large C&I-SEMA
July:          8.514
August:        7.783
September:     7.050

Fixed Price Option: Jul. 1, 2015 – Sept. 30, 2015: 7.804

Now is the time to contract Electricity and Gas


Prices for electricity and natural gas are nearing record lows, making this a great time for customers to purchase their power ahead of time.

This is due to several factors, including a warmer-than-average weather outlook for spring, a surplus of natural gas supply and a pull-back in power prices.

Here’s what you need to know.

Warmer Weather Is Reducing Demand

For those living in the snow-covered regions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, it seems hard to believe this winter has been relatively mild compared to last year and warmer-than-average temperatures are on the way. It’s true that last November was the coldest since 2000 and the eighth coldest nationally since 1950. However, this was followed by a warmer pattern in late November and early December. While certain regions have clearly had cold snaps throughout the winter, they haven’t been as widespread and long-lasting as the cold we experienced during last year’s Polar Vortex.

This means demand has fallen compared to last year, contributing to lower prices.

Now that the worst appears to be over and spring is just a few weeks away, the National Weather Service is forecasting a warm spring for the West, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions and a warmer-than-average summer along both coasts.

Natural Gas Surplus Keeps Prices Low

Withdrawals from natural gas storage continue to be well below what we experienced last year. In 11 of the last 13 weeks, natural gas withdrawals were smaller than last year. We saw a brief uptick in January, but recovering production and inconsistent demand for heating kept more natural gas in storage. Unless temperatures remain cold through March, we’re on pace to end the season with a surplus.

By contrast, last year’s heating season ended with a deficit in natural gas supply. The elimination of that deficit cut natural gas prices on the NYMEX almost in half. This historical correlation between the gas storage surplus and deficit and the NYMEX 12-month strip, as well as estimates of end-of-season storage, suggest prices could fall even lower this spring.

Gas Consumption Will Reach An All-Time High

With natural gas prices this low, we can expect power companies to use more natural gas and reduce their reliance on coal. We’ve seen an upward trend in natural gas consumption by power companies for the past decade, but now it’s on track to reach record levels, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Gas demand in the power sector is 6 percent higher than in 2014 and 16 percent above the five-year average level. More power companies are retiring aging coal plants and replacing them with natural gas units.

We can also expect to see a greater reliance on natural gas in the West, as less available water creates a decreased reliance on hydropower. In late January, snowpack levels were only about 25-40 percent of what they are normally are, and a weakening El Nino looks to be bringing less rain, which could create a drought in early spring.  During a good water year, hydropower can contribute to up to 30 percent of the power generation mix in the summer, which isn’t likely to happen this year.

As power companies consume more gas and production tapers off in 2015, we should expect to see natural gas prices eventually bottom out.

Now Is the Time To Buy

As natural gas prices continue to fall, long-term power prices, too, are within 1-2 percent of all-time lows. Since the start of the winter, prices have been down an average of $5.49 per mWh.

Taking advantage of these low prices now by purchasing a portion of your energy in advance can help offset the rising costs of capacity and transmission, which are occurring as power companies retire aging plants and build new infrastructure.

BCC offers a variety of energy pricing options, including the ability to lock in prices over the term of your contract, make smaller purchases over time based on market fluctuations or use a combination of these strategies.

Our energy management experts can help you identify the right solution to meet your needs. We also offer a variety of energy management tools that allow you to monitor prices and make smarter purchases based on the market.

Learn more about how you can be a proactive energy consumer with our pricing options and energy management tools—contact us today.

Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) New Last Resort Service Rates

Electricity Prices

Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) has announced its new Last Resort Service Rates for default service customers for the period April through June 2014.

CL&P’s  Last Resort Service Generation Services Charge (GSC) rates for the three-month period beginning April 2014 are as follows, in cents per kWh:
Rates 39, 41, 55, 56, 57, and 58
April: 7.262
May:  6.542
June: 7.699

For Last Resort Service rate classes with peak/off peak periods, the CL&P electricity supply rates are identical for each period

All rates listed above reflect the Generation Service Charge plus the bypassable Federally Mandated Congestion Charge of 0.070 cents per kWh.  Customers who obtain a fixed price competitive electricity supply contract are not subject to the fluctuations in market prices that Last Resort Customers have.

To learn about competitive electricity and gas supply contracts, contact Better Cost Control.

NY Electricity Prices Skyrocket Due to Weather and Gas Prices

Cold and Electricity PricesNew Yorkers looking at their electricity bills across the state are going to be facing sticker shock. Electricity prices jumped last month by more than 50 percent on average statewide, fueled by cold winter weather and surging demand for natural gas, which is used to generate much of the state’s electricity as well as for heating.

And the electrical price spike came ahead of the dreaded polar vortex that put the state into a temporary deep freeze this month. So next month’s electric bills might also be high.

Electricity prices in the state track natural gas prices very closely.  Since electricity prices in New York change every month, customers without competitive fixed price supply contracts may wish that they had those contracts.

In New York, a megawatt-hour of electricity (enough to power 1,000 average homes for an hour), sold into the ISO for $66.39 in December, up 53 percent from the month before, when it sold for $43.27, according to NYISO. During that same period, the price of natural gas in the state spiked by 46 percent.

Such gas-driven spikes in electric rates during winter months are not unusual, according to a NYISO statement. “The markets experienced similar price increases in January 2011 and 2013. In contrast, the winter of 2012 was relatively mild, which eased the demand for natural gas and prices remained low,” according to the statement.

NY utilities now simply gets the power that they sell through NYISO, which itself operates a system where plant owners bid in the price of their power hourly, daily and in advance.  This is essentially the same as a customer that purchases an LMP index contract from a competitive supplier, which offers no price protection.

Utilities try to hedge against price spikes by buying access to some power in advance when prices are lower, but 90 percent of the electricity sold by utilities is obtained through short-term market run by NYISO.

During the winter, retail residential, commercial and industrial gas customers have priority on gas supplies to meet heating and commercial needs, according to NYISO. During cold spells, that demand competes with the growing demand for gas as a fuel for power plants, and pushes up the price.

December was a bit colder than average, according to the Albany office of the National Weather Service. The average temperature was 27.6 degrees, which was nearly a full degree below the average for the month.

But November was even cooler. The month averaged 37.2 degrees, about 2.5 degrees below normal.

This month, the state set a record for electricity usage on Jan. 7 during the vortex-induced cold snap, as the electricity demand reached 25,738 megawatts — breaking the previous peak winter demand record of 25,541 megawatts set Dec. 20, 2004, according to NYISO.

Nationally, natural gas prices rose 35 percent in 2013, and the federal Energy Information Administration had predicted home heating bills to increase 13 percent this winter for natural gas customers across the country, with users of home heating oil seeing a 2 percent decrease.

If you don’t have a fixed price electricity or gas contract for your business, maybe it’s time to think about that!

National Grid Supply Rates to Rise 54%!

Electric MeterNational Grid has announced the new Standard Offer electricity supply prices for customers in Massachusetts.  The new pricing demonstrates that energy prices are rising dramatically:

Fixed Medium and Large General Service (G-2, G-3)

For the period period 11/1/2013 to 1/31/2014:

SEMA: 9.895/kWh (up 54.8%)

WCMA: 9.804/kWh (up 52.3%)

NEMA: 9.960/kWh (up 55.2%)

Fixed Small General Service (G-1)

For the period 11/1/2013 to 4/30/2014: 9.448/kWH (up 38.9%)

For National Grid customers on a variable rate, prices will rise to a peak of 12.4/kWH by January 2014.

You can protect yourself from these rising prices today with a fixed price electricity contract.  Contact us for a quotation.

Arizona – Is this the next deregulated state?

Electricity Grid This spring, the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s utility regulator and a body that’s been wielding a lot of power lately, asked the state’s utilities to give their thoughts on opening up the state’s electricity market to competition as has been done in Pennsylvania and Texas.

It was just a question, and a rather vague one at that, but folks are already lining up for a fight. APS called it, “the most significant action by the ACC in more than a decade.” The utility, which would potentially lose its captive customer base under deregulation, is against the idea, as is Tucson Electric Power and the Salt River Project, the state’s two other big electric utilities. Carrying the opposition’s water is the Arizona Power Consumers Coalition, which counts the Arizona Association of Realtors and the Sedona Tea Party as members. They essentially argue that the current system provides stability and low rates, so don’t mess with it.

Leading the charge in favor of deregulation for obvious free market-type reasons are groups like the Arizona state chapter of the ultra-right, Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, and the Goldwater Institute. Competition, they say, would bring prices down and provide more choice, just as breaking up telecommunications monopolies has done. They’re joined by a crew of big businesses (such as large electricity users that could get a good deal from a competitive market) – from mining giant Freeport McMoran to Intel to WalMart – under the umbrella of the Arizonans for Electric Choice and Competition.

Deregulation is certainly not an either/or proposition. It’s up to the ACC to determine what form it might take. But it could be good for renewable energy. Customers could, in theory, choose power suppliers that would supply them with 100 percent renewables; currently, they’re basically trapped into buying a very coal-heavy energy mix from APS, SRP or TEP. And, in all likelihood, deregulation would include the creation of an independent system operator to operate the Arizona grid, much in the same way it’s done in California. That can help with so-called geographic smoothing of wind and solar, which suffer from intermittency, thereby allowing more renewables into the grid.

Arizona actually deregulated once already, or tried to, back in the late 1990s and early 2000’s, when the nation as a whole was moving in that direction. California was one of the leaders, and therefore one of the first to get burned by deregulation. Bad operators gamed the system. Enron shipped power out of state, then back in, to get by state price caps. And so on. The experiment crashed in California, and other states got cold feet, or ran into their own complications, and for the most part halted deregulation.

Under that old Arizona deregulation plan, utilities would have been forced to divest from their power plants and other assets (though there would be ways for them to recapture stranded costs). That possibility has already shaken up the Arizona energy scene, with ripples going into New Mexico and California. After the ACC brought up deregulation, APS postponed indefinitely a plan to buy two Southern California Edison-owned units of the Four Corners Power Plant in northwestern New Mexico and shut down the plant’s three other units. And that has stopped the Navajo Nation from going ahead with a possible purchase of the Navajo Mine, which supplies Four Corners, from BHP Billiton.

That deal, the fate of the Four Corners Power Plant, and the Arizona energy scene in general all hang on the ACC deregulation decision, which could be handed down as early as this fall. We’ll keep you informed.

MA Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Auction

REC Solar Energy from Solar PanelsFor the second time in less than a week, Massachusetts’ auction of solar renewable energy certificates (SREC) failed to clear on Wednesday, setting the stage for a third and final round. The auction is scrapped when bidding volume is less than the number of SRECs for sale. There are 38,866 SRECs being offered.
The Department of Energy Resources runs the SREC auction as a last-resort to sell unsold SRECs in years when annual supply is greater than demand.

This is the first time that the auction is being held because in 2010 and 2011 the SREC market was under-supplied. In 2012, supply exceeded demand, prompting the DOER to run the auction. The next round is scheduled for Friday. And if that fails to clear, then the SRECs will be returned to the sellers.

The DOER included a last-resort auction as a way of providing some price support to SRECs even when supply outpaces demand. Other SREC markets – without similar mechanisms in place – have typically seen prices crash following an installation boom and stay low until demand catches up. The auction has a fixed price of $300/SREC for buyers and $285/SREC for sellers. There is a $15 administrative fee.

Compliance entities are not required to participate, but the auction has been designed to try and attract buyers. SRECs purchased through the first round have an additional two years of eligibility. They can be used by compliance entities in 2013 or 2014. In the second round, the shelf life is extended through 2015. Longer eligibility increases the attractiveness of the underlying SRECs assuming parties view the $300 price tag as a good investment, calculating that the spot market will eventually be even higher.

Now that the first two rounds have yet to clear, the DOER will conduct its third and final attempt on Friday. On top of the extended shelf life, buyers face another incentive to participate because the DOER will raise the 2014 compliance requirement by an amount equal to the auction volume – 38,866 SRECs – if it does not clear.

A single SREC represents one MWh (or 1000KWh) of electricity.

For Massachusetts customers, this subject is important since the cost of SRECs is a part of the ancillary fees charged to customers.  A fixed price electricity contract, as long as it includes all ancillary fees, will protect the customer from the rising cost of SRECs.  Read more at the website.

Delmarva Power & Light Files New SOS Rates

For the three month period beginning September 1, Delmarva has claimed the following:

Delmarva-MD SOS Energy Rate 9/1/13 – 11/30/13 (¢/kWh)

Small General Service- Secondary Service "SGS-S":
All hours:  8.0380
Large General Service - Secondary "LGS-S"
On Peak:    8.0380
Off Peak:   8.0380
General Service- Primary "GS-P"
On Peak:    8.0380
Off Peak:   8.0380

Charges above are for generation only, and do not reflect bypassable transmission or reconciliation.

Original source can be found here.