Energy News

Weekly trends and insights on the Natural Gas and Electricity Markets
Last month, PJM released a new online learning portal. As a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) that “coordinates the movement of electricity through all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia”, this user friendly website is designed to be beneficial to both customers and industry professionals looking for information about  PJM Interconnection. The new center, which can be found at http://learn.pjm.com, covers a variety of topics including: the basics of electricity, innovations in energy, and...
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As the temperature drops across the nation and cities brace for early winter blizzards, energy pricing in New England skyrockets!   Massachusetts consumers were anticipating the price hikes but it’s a tough pill to swallow as other energy costs are dropping throughout the country. National Grid, the largest utility in Massachusetts, recently received approval for a 37 percent increase in electric bills beginning this month, which will affect 1.3 million consumers.    Another Massachusetts utility, NSTAR, asked for a 29 percent increase, starting in January 2015.  According to the utility, this will increase...
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For energy customers in Ohio, the importance of deregulation is again being challenged. Claiming they are unable to compete in the deregulated market, some Ohio utilities including AEP and FirstEnergy are asking for assistance from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Their concern is directed at the coal power plants and they are requesting the PUCO to allow them into a power purchase agreement (PPA) to guarantee pricing to keep them running. If approved, consumers will not benefit from a truly competitive market. Consumers hooked up to the grid will have...
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Renewable energy sources have been getting a lot of attention and over the past few months we have highlighted a few different topics; this week we are focusing on wind power. Generating energy by the wind is not a new concept. In short, wind energy works with the combination of lift and drag causing the rotor to spin like a propeller, and electricity is produced by the turning shaft spinning a generator. However, it is only in recent years that wind energy has become more popular and thus a noticeable part of...
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Our last blog illustrated the significance of capacity charges on the overall cost of a customer’s energy supply. When rendering figures for a customer’s capacity charge, the utility calculates what is called the Peak Load Contribution (or PLC), which is a number used to show how much generation could be needed for the system’s peak load. A customer’s average peak demand is determined by the five highest-demand days of the year and although these days cannot be predicted from year to year, they usually occur on weekday afternoons during the...
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Capacity in the electric market refers to the capability to produce energy to meet your “peak” electrical use during a specific period.  There must be enough power to maintain grid reliability during periods of peak demand, regardless of when it occurs.   If there is an insufficient amount of electricity generated to meet the demand, we lose power. In order to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet the anticipated demand, every utility customer pays a capacity charge.   In prior years, the capacity charge was insignificant and did...
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A common question we get asked as energy consultants is, “When is the best time of year to shop for gas or electric rates?” The short answer is there is no “best time”, but as experts in energy management there are certain factors we use to best advise our clients who are looking into new plans or considering to lock in their current rates.  Factors such as the weather and economy play a role in stabilizing or disrupting the prices of gas and electric rates.  Even during spring and fall...
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There are different types of supply pricing options for electric customers, and many times each of the various suppliers have their own unique pricing systems.  However, there are common factors in every electric price.  In order to fully comprehend electric pricing, whether it be from a utility or an alternate supplier, you need to understand the basic components that make up a price. Your electric utility bill is separated into two main categories – delivery charges and supply charges.  Delivery charges always come from the utility and are their charge...
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Almost immediately after releasing last week’s blog regarding slamming, we were made aware of a recent scam affecting customers that are served by Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. (RG&E) and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. (NYSEG). Customers are being warned about scammers claiming they represent the utility and who say they are calling about billing matters. The latest scam involves mention of a “Green Dot MoneyPak Card” that the caller tries to get the client to purchase. Customers are being threatened that their utilities will be shut off...
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In the energy industry, slamming is a term used when an individual gathers enough information about a customer to enroll them with a supplier without consent and most times, little or no knowledge by the customer of this happening. Many times customers don’t find out they’ve been slammed until they get a bill from a different supplier (than the one they’ve designated to receive electricity or natural gas from) or they see increases in their bills where they don’t belong (if they were on a fixed arrangement). Slams happen a...
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FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., announced Tuesday that it will be exiting the electric retail market for mass market and mid-sized commercial and industrial customers.  FES will serve their existing customers through their contract terms but will eliminate any selling or renewal efforts to mid-C&I and mass markets.  “[W]e intend to exit the medium commercial and industrial or MCI and mass market retail channels as existing contracts expire, but we will continue to serve strategic large industrial and commercial customers as well as our governmental aggregation and...
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Among other places, you may notice the mention of the natural gas injection or inventory “storage reports” if you receive our emails, or read the Energy News Flashes or Power New Energy Updates. Each Thursday (except for weeks that include Federal holidays) around 10:30 a.m. the Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report is posted on the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) website. The report provides gas inventory information of working gas volumes held in underground storage facilities at the national and regional levels. According to the EIA, there are about 120 entities that currently...
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What is the Block Bidding Program? The Block Bidding Program is a sealed-bid auction that was established by NYSEG and RG&E utilities to help New York State reach their goal of reducing energy by 15% by 2015.  NYSEG and RG&E purchase “blocks” of electricity savings – reduced electric usage – from commercial, industrial and municipal customers or from third-party aggregators working with these customers.   The purpose of the program is to create ways for customers to achieve energy savings and allow third-party aggregators to participate in offering energy-saving solutions....
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What Is ReCharge New York (“RNY”)? Statewide economic development power program for qualified businesses and not-for-profit corporations. The program is designed to retain and create jobs through allocations of low-cost power. This replaces the Power For Jobs Program. Who Is Eligible? Many businesses and non-profit organizations are eligible however, there are certain entities that do not qualify. Non-eligible entities include all retail businesses, sports venues, gaming or entertainment-related establishments, and places of overnight accommodation. How Much Power is Available? At the start of the program there were 910 Megawatts (MW) available, with 50%...
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As you may be well aware, solar has become a very hot topic. It may be surprising to learn however that only about 15-20% of electric customers are actually able to access solar energy on their own. Various factors such as physical characteristics of a home or business, consumers who lack ownership of the property, the cost of installing solar on an individual basis, and legal restrictions can deter many interested parties from benefiting from this renewable resource. Due to these limitations, community solar gardens have been growing in popularity....
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Improved technologies, tax credits, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), and Renewable Energy Certificates/Credits (RECs) have all helped to increase and encourage the use of renewable energy sources over the years.  In 2013, according to the EIA, 13% of electricity produced in the United States was generated by renewable energy sources.  Hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass are among the renewable sources that contribute to electricity generation in different degrees. Hydropower was the largest provider of U.S. renewable energy in 2013 and generated 52% of all renewable energy.  However, non-hydropower renewable sources are...
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The vocabulary used to reference individuals who provide services in the energy industry many times can be confused with one another.  The terms energy broker, energy consultant and energy management company many times are used interchangeably and can sometimes be misinterpreted as the entity that supplies the energy. However, typically this company is responsible for assisting clients in acquiring electric or natural gas rates from energy suppliers and managing the client’s strategy for procurement. In states where energy is deregulated, consumers have the power to choose what company will be their supply...
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f you’ve been watching the FIFA World Cup games in Brazil you may have noticed prominently displayed PV solar panels on stadium roofs and in parking lots.  Solar energy will play an important role in the World Cup games as the majority of stadiums are powered by this clean energy source.  According to Joseph F. Blatter, President of FIFA, “Large-scale solar projects like this one are contributing to increasing the positive impact of the FIFA World Cup on society and the environment.” Four of Brazil’s World Cup stadiums have a...
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In 2010, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. In response to this alarming number, the Better Buildings Challenge was introduced by President Obama in December 2011, as an added component of the Better Buildings Initiative launched earlier that year. With the introduction of the Better Buildings Challenge, President Obama hoped to encourage leaders of commercial buildings, multifamily housing, and industrial plants to make a voluntary public commitment to make their buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. The project aimed to provide a means for...
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Don’t think you’re alone if you feel that glossy look come over your eyes when people start discussing BCFs or BTUs and how your LDC relates to your ISO or RTO. The energy industry is constantly changing and advancing so it comes as no surprise that this industry jargon can feel overwhelming at times.  Deregulation of energy has allowed for increased consumer choice and we like to help make you as informed and knowledgeable as possible. In this week’s blog we have provided definitions to some common terms used in...
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There has been a lot of buzz in the energy world over the past few years regarding renewable energy choices.  At the height of this discussion is solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) technology.  As the price of solar panels decline, solar technology is becoming increasingly popular for businesses looking to stabilize their energy costs as well as help to provide a cleaner, more sustainable environment.  Government incentives at both the national and state levels coupled with 3rd party investors make many opportunities for the transition to solar power become a reality....
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The heat is being turned up. And for the future of coal power in America, not in a good way!  Growing competition from cheaper, cleaner alternatives combined with stricter regulations imposed by government and environmental agencies is making it more difficult for coal-fired facilities to survive. Such regulations have recently led several power producers to announce plans to retire coal plants. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2012 the three main sources of electricity generation in the United States were attributed to coal (37%), natural gas (30%), and nuclear...
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