By John Nania
Each year at Nania Energy Advisors, hundreds of Illinois businesses contact us about their electricity and natural gas needs. Because so many trust our advice, they often ask: “Who are the best ABCs (Agents, Brokers, and Consultants) in the business around here?”
Below is a list of companies that have solid reputations for helping businesses with electric and natural gas purchases. A couple of caveats:
- The ABCs on this list can assist with both electricity and natural gas purchases — not all ABCs do. Most just focus on electric, and only a handful really understand or transact for natural gas.
- There are many qualities that a good ABC needs to have. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but at a minimum each company on this list embodies these qualities:
- Great supplier relations
- Quality customer service
- Experienced professionals providing accurate and timely advice
- Good reputation
If an easy energy buying process is important to you, you have good options to choose from. Here is the list of the best ABCs in Illinois.
Best Electric ABCs
Large Electricity Purchases (> 10 million kWh/yr): Transparent Energy
Transparent Energy has built a reverse auction platform that is second-to-none in the nation. A reverse auction is like eBay in reverse — all suppliers are bidding blindly against each other in a live event to achieve the lowest possible price.
Transparent provides clients with the absolutely lowest cost purchase by creating competition from every supplier in the Illinois market. They’re masters at ensuring you have an apples-to-apples bid comparison. The auction platform is great for public institutions in particular because of its recorded, completely transparent process.
Midsize Electricity Purchases (2-10 million kWh/yr): Satori Energy
Dave and his team at Satori have a solid group of seasoned, well-trained analysts and great relationships with suppliers both in Illinois and nationally. Headquartered in Chicago, Satori started their firm at the beginning of the deregulated electric market in the early 2000’s. They’re often a gateway for new suppliers who will aggressively price their products to get started in a new market. They also have their own proprietary reverse auction platform.
Small Electricity Purchases (< 2 million kWh/yr): Lower Electric
Ira and Bill have a boutique shop in Northbrook that caters to small and midsize clients — quite often those with multiple locations. They provide a personalized touch and are skilled at tailoring innovative solutions to meet individual client needs.
Best Natural Gas ABC: Midwest Energy
For medium to very large natural gas users, the best ABC is hands-down Midwest Energy. Mark, Nick, and Greg have the greatest understanding of the market, supplier, and solutions to satisfy clients’ needs. Their skills come from being one of the first players in energy when natural gas first became deregulated in the early 1990’s.
A Note for Small Natural Gas Users
As a general rule, smaller clients (< 75,000 therms/yr) are typically best served by their local utility, not a third-party supplier. The only exception is if there are multiple locations needing service. If you fall into this category, I would suggest Lower Electric or Midwest Energy.
There are almost 300 registered ABCs to choose from in Illinois. They are served by over 30 electric suppliers and about 6 gas suppliers. To see the full list of electric suppliers in the state, click here.
(There is no license per se required to sell gas in the state, so a similar list for gas suppliers in Illinois is not available.)
When it comes down to it, choosing the right ABC is really about choosing the right energy partner. The relationship matters a lot more than you might think! Over the course of many years, you’ll have a need to engage with them several times for:
- Service with existing suppliers
- Utility issues
Don’t be shy about asking how they get paid. Almost all are paid exclusively by their suppliers. If the ABC bills you directly for any of their services, ask them if they are also paid by the supplier. If they are, run — don’t walk — away. Good ABCs do not charge directly for their services, nor should they double-dip getting paid by the supplier and you.
I hope you’ve found this helpful and hope you find the perfect ABC for your facility.
If you’d like to learn more about what sets us apart as an energy advising company, visit our What We Do page.
About the Author
John has been an energy professional for 27 years. He is the CEO & Founder of Nania Energy Advisors, providing energy services to over 10,000 facilities in the Illinois and Mid-Atlantic markets. He has an MBA and is a frequest speaker at energy industry conferences.
John can be reached via email at email@example.com.