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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