TMT: Meet Calvin Cornish

Video Transcript

Hi! I’m Calvin Cornish. I’m a Senior Energy Advisor here with Nania Energy. I’ve been in the industry since 2003 and I just celebrated my 10 year anniversary with Nania Energy recently.

I’ve been in energy for a long time. I work with community living and real estate, so property managers, apartments, commercial property managers. I really enjoy working with folks and learning about energy efficiency and learning in general. Outside of work, I like taking on new projects outside and around the house — woodworking, building, I just like to learn how things work and make things.

I spend a lot of time with kids. I have three kids, and my wife is currently teaching preschool out of our house a couple of days a week with six preschool kids including youngest. So there’s always kids around, and I really enjoy that.

I like the outdoors. I don’t think anyone would describe me as an “outdoors-y” person, like I’m not camping and things. But I do enjoy any excuse to be outside, whether it’s yard work or building.

And I would suggest if you’re in a new neighborhood and you’re looking for ways to meet your neighbors, just start huge yard projects. Build whatever you can outside, because I put up a pool recently and a deck, and I think I met half the people in my entire neighborhood as they all nosily stopped by and said “Hey, whatcha got goin’ on back there?” So just hanging out, meeting neighbors, that’s what I really enjoy doing in my free time — building things outside, meeting people, and spending time with friends.

So while I’ve really enjoyed the extra time at home and time spent with my family, one major takeaway that I’ve had from the COVID experience that I’ve found is just how much I appreciate talking with clients. Some of my best friends are clients and folks in the industry. I really enjoy getting to know them, helping them solve problems, and just talking through things.

I’d love to help you out if you want to talk about energy efficiency or just talk about woodworking tips and building pools. I’d love to hear from you. My contact information is below, so feel free to reach out and I look forward to talking with you soon.

 

TMT: Meet Becky Thompson

Video Transcript

Hey guys! I’m Becky, part of the Nania family here. I’m a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor that’s been around for about seven years now. I specialize in the public sector, so anywhere from local school districts, municipalities, higher education — you name it in the public sector, and I help service that part of the industry.

My background actually has nothing to do with energy. I was born and raised on a farm, so I’m the resident redneck at Nania. I came from a huge family and worked my way through college with multiple jobs and got my degree in Marketing.

So I actually started out doing a lot of online marketing until I met my now-boss Michael here at Nania and joined the family. And fell in love with energy, actually. I’ve become a full-fledged energy nerd. I’m one of the few people that can actually say I absolutely love my job and the people I work with, so I’m very fortunate.

It’s been an interesting year! I have a three-year-old son, Jack, and a husband of five years. And we have all been home for many, many months! Which is why my background is a beach because it’s a lot of wishful thinking that I could be somewhere not in my kitchen right now.

We love to travel. We actually were able to do a little European tour last fall — luckily before all of this kind of nonsense happened. We went to Italy and Greece, and it was remarkable. I can’t wait to go on many more adventures like that in the future.

My contact information is below. If you ever have any questions and you’re part of the public sector, I’m happy to help. It has been a very difficult year on many accounts for everyone. So if there’s anything we can do to offer you any assistance and clean up any of the messes that COVID and 2020 have presented us, we are here at your disposal.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know me, and I look forward to getting to know you as well! Take care.

 

TMT: How Oil Impacts Natural Gas Prices

Video Transcript

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on the price of commodities, with oil being the primary media focus in recent months. But did you know that approximately 16 percent of natural gas harvested in the United States comes from oil wells?

In this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, we’re going to talk about how the relationship between oil and natural gas drives domestic energy prices and give you some tips to control your risk.

How are oil and natural gas related?

If a company produces crude oil in the United States, chances are they also produce natural gas. The two commodities are related because natural gas can be a byproduct of oil drilling. This is called associated gas — otherwise known as natural gas that’s associated with oil production.

With a nationwide average of 16 percent of natural gas (and as much as 40 percent in some areas of the country) coming from oil, it is safe to say that a good chunk of domestic natural gas production is reliant on oil.

What happened with oil prices?

Oil prices absolutely plummeted because of a perfect storm in March and April of this year. Plunging demand due to the coronavirus coupled with an OPEC disagreement on production cuts cause the collapse of oil prices.

There are two consequences of low oil prices as they relate to natural gas:

  1. The immediate impact is it’s no longer profitable to harvest oil domestically and the associated natural gas that comes with it. Oil drillers in the US have higher operating costs and a higher break-even point than drillers elsewhere in the world. The 16 percent value of natural gas coming from oil is reduce or, in some extreme cases, eliminated.
  2. In a longer-term view, sustained low oil prices will cause future development of oil and associated natural gas resources to be cancelled or postponed. This is really a balancing effect of supply and demand. So the longer oil remains low, the larger the potential impact it will have on future supply levels of natural gas.

We’ve seen oil demand come back here in July, almost reaching the same levels as 2019. The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the worst effect of the coronavirus on global oil demand have passed but will continue to echo throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond. With resurgent cases we’re seeing in the south and talk of additional business closures, this remains to be seen.

How does this impact you?

So, what should you do with this information?

If your natural gas agreement is expiring within the next 18 months, you should absolutely be reviewing your options for renewal. Prompt month prices hit 25-year lows in early July 2020.

If you’re locked farther out, I would also encourage you to review options for extending your natural gas agreement. With the historical low point we’re currently at coupled with risks to long-term production, now may be the time to take some of that risk off the table.

Thanks for watching! If you’d like to review your options for natural gas, my team and I would be happy to help. If you enjoyed this video, please like, comment, and share below.

2020 Transmission Rates Increases and Changes

By Michael DeCaluwe

Frequently, we see transmission rate changes that impact the costs on your electricity bill. Understanding these changes and what you can do to counteract them can help you control your annual electricity costs.

What are transmission charges on your electric bill?

Transmission charges are the costs associated with operating the electrical “grid.” The grid is composed of large high-voltage wires that you see running across the country that have a “zipping” sound to them. These wires are managed by an RTO (Regional Transmission Organization).

Your local electric utility pulls power from these wires and delivers it to your home or business at a voltage level that’s safe for consumption.

Depending on the market, transmission costs are usually part of a supplier’s cost or rate and are separate from the delivery costs charged by your local utility.

How are transmission rates determined?

Transmission costs are usually based on an RTO’s rate schedule. That schedule is approved and regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Transmission costs typically have two moving components: the RTO’s rate schedule that may vary each year, and your account’ annual demand values that will also fluctuate annually.

When a supplier “locks” your transmission costs for a specific term, they take the risk that your demand values will not go up (resulting in higher costs) during the term of your agreement. They also take the current cost of transmission into account when fixing your rate.

2020 Transmission Rate Increases

FERC just approved an update to transmission costs for many of the delivery areas in PJM, the largest RTO (grid operator) in the United States. As a result, most areas are seeing an increase in their transmission costs.

Here’s a look at those updates:

Depending on the supplier, some customers may see an adjustment to their transmission costs on their upcoming electric bills.

What can you do to lower your transmission costs?

Lowering your electricity usage at peak times can impact both your capacity and transmission costs going forward. One way to do this is to receive Peak Day Alerts, which tell you the date and time that a peak day may occur. These alerts help you plan to reduce your usage during those peak times.

If you’re interested in receiving Peak Day Alerts or have any other questions about capacity and transmission costs, feel free to reach out to us.

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TMT: 3 Factors Impacting Your 2021 Energy Budget

Video Transcript

Hi! It’s Calvin, back with another Two-Minute Tuesday. It’s budget season, so this week we’re going to take a look at three macro factors that may impact energy budgets for Illinois customers in 2021.

Budget Factor 1: COVID-19

The first and most obvious factor is COVID-19 and the potential for a second wave later this year.

Initially, with stay-at-home orders, we were in a shoulder period when there wasn’t significant usage for heating or cooling. If there’s a second wave, it’s likely going to come during the heating season. So there’s a big potential for staying at home to increase usage, thus driving up natural gas costs.

Budget Factor 2: Clean Energy Legislation

The second major factor is Illinois clean energy legislation.

There’s legislation on the table right now that includes Northern Illinois being removed from the PJM market. What this means is Illinois residents and businesses will be paying a completely different structure for their capacity costs. The goal of this is to support renewable generation, which historically is higher cost, so it could lead to dramatically higher rates for capacity and overall electricity costs for Northern Illinois customers.

Budget Factor 3: Oil Prices

The third major factor, hot off the presses, is oil prices.

Over the weekend, OPEC announced that they are considering increasing production. They’re meeting tomorrow, July 15, to have discussions and potentially vote on increasing production starting in August. This means that they consider the market to be recovering or demand to be increasing in the future. It could just be wishful thinking on their part, but if they’re correct, then we could see a continuing increase in oil cost and, ultimately, energy rates for 2021.

 

So to recap, the three big things to keep an eye on for next year: COVID wave two, Illinois energy legislation, and OPEC’s discussion to increase production.

If you have questions on this or are looking for additional guidance in your budget planning for 2021, please feel free to reach out to us! You can give a call or email info@naniaenergy.com.

We thank you again for tuning in to another Two-Minute Tuesday, and if you found it helpful please like or comment below.

TMT: Meet Mike Zaura

Video Transcript

Hi! I’m Mike Zaura, and I am a Senior Energy Advisor here at Nania Energy Advisors. I’m coming up on almost five years in the energy industry and with the Nania family.

My background is in manufacturing. I’ve been in sales and business development for quite a while, but my manufacturing background fuels my passion for helping those clients reduce their costs. I also work with hospitality, restaurants, and food distribution clients, and we recently helped some park districts and property management companies as well.

One of my focuses is in green energy. There’s been a lot of discussion lately in how to “go green,” and I’m always willing to engage in those conversations.

When I’m not having energy conversations and talking with people about reducing their costs, our family keeps us quite busy. My beautiful wife Jamie and I have a daughter who just turned eight in May, and we also have triplet boys who will turn six in a couple weeks. So as you can imagine, we have our hands full.

I grew up in the Chicago area. I went to Loyola University of Chicago, and I grew up going to both Sox and Cubs games, although I gravitate toward the Sox a little more now. I’m a huge Bears fan, Blackhawks obviously, and the Bulls as well. So I’m a Chicago guy, & I’ve been around the area for a long time.

When the kids aren’t keeping us busy, I like to be outdoors quite a bit, and I listen to a lot of different music. One of the outdoors activities I’m quite passionate about is bocce ball. I’ve been engaging in a few bocce ball tournaments each year, and we actually have one coming up here pretty soon.

That’s just about everything about me! I’d love to engage in a conversation. If you’d like to learn a little more, talk a little bit about energy or anything else, I’m open to conversation. My contact information is below, so feel free to email or give me a call.

Thank you so much for watching, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Mike Zaura, Senior Energy Advisor

(630) 225-4556

mzaura@naniaenergy.com

 

TMT: Choosing the Right Energy Product

Video Transcript

Let’s discuss risk. If we were having this webinar three months ago, we would be talking a lot about the cost savings versus your prior contract and how we hit some of the lowest prices in the last 20 years in February, which was just unheard of.

It would have been a very different conversation from today where we want to focus on cost aversion — avoiding any risk in the future given all the factors that we’re aware of today. Where we anticipate using those factors, where we anticipate energy prices to go, and what that means for you and your energy costs.

The biggest way to do this is through product selection. When a supplier uses “product” terminology, they’re basically meaning of all the moving components of your electricity or natural gas costs, how are you fixing those and what is the variability going to be from those month-to-month on your invoice?

Low Risk Tolerance Customers

So when we look at this meter, you see in that bluish-white area is for low risk-tolerance customers. You need a lot of budget certainty, you can’t have a lot of variation in the rate month-to-month, and you need to plan in advance for what’s coming down the pike. This would be more of a fixed product, or a fixed all-in. You’re taking all of the different components of your energy cost and locking them as much as possible.

When done correctly, you should in theory have the same per-kWh or per-therm cost on your invoice every month.

High Risk Tolerance Customers

If you go to the other side of the meter, you have the index or variable or floating type of products. These ride the roller coaster of the energy market. So you’re going to have a lot of variability.

There’s been some advantages to this certainly in the past year or two where prices have continued to come down continuously, so if you’ve been riding an index product you may have seen some of those record-low prices and been able to take advantage of that.

But on the flip side, now we’re facing volatility. And volatility, again, means a roller coaster. So if you have a little more bandwidth to have a higher risk tolerance, then this may be the kind of product for you.

Product type is going to look different for every organization. We’ve already seen where COVID-19 has affected every business (even within the same industry) very differently, and going forward a recession could affect every organization differently. So I would stress that you should really look at your internal risk tolerance — not only what it was in the past but also what it’s going to be going forward with all of the unknowns.

Current Energy Product Trends

A trend that we’re seeing right now is even some of our long-term clients that have always been on some type of float or index product are actually looking to fix as much as they possibly can. There’s a lot of uncertainty still up in the air. We don’t know a lot of things that are going to shake out from COVID and the recession and these other factors we’ve described.

So to be able to have control over a certain portion of your budget via energy, we’re seeing where people are starting to switch more to the fixed and low-risk types of products.

 

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TMT: Meet Sam Greenberg

Video Transcript

Hi everybody! My name is Sam Greenberg. I’m a Strategic Energy Advisor and I work in Annapolis, Maryland. I’m one of the Mid-Atlantic reps along with Mike Eckenroth.

One of the things that brought me to Nania Energy Advisors about eight months ago (I’m one of the newest advisors on the team) was the 20-year proven record of the Nania Energy family. It was one of the biggest drivers for me to be a part of this company.

Their transparency in leadership and the opportunity to grow in the Mid-Atlantic in a remote role was something that was extremely intriguing and provided an opportunity for me to help grow my personal career while also helping the Nania family grow as well. I’m really excited to be a part of this! I’m looking forward to helping business owners across the country save on their energy needs.

In my personal life, I’m originally from Connecticut, so I am a New England sports fan at heart. I’m a Yankees and a Giants fan, so with all my coworkers being from Chicago I know there’s some differences there. However, we get along just fine despite those differences in sports teams.

TMT: Meet Your Advisor

I also just got a new puppy, which is exciting for me personally. She’s keeping me occupied and busy for the time being.

I’m really looking forward to growing in the Strategic Energy Advisor role! I help large and small businesses save money on their energy costs and help them make impacting differences in their future to reduce their overall energy expenses and help them grow.

I’m really honored to be a part of the Nania family, and I’m looking forward to working with you in the future if you’re a business owner. My contact information is listed below, so if you need anything I’m more than happy to help! I love building rapport and working with my clients to help them reduce costs in the long term. So it’s great to be a part of this team, and I look forward to working with you in the future!

Sam Greenberg

Strategic Energy Advisor, Mid-Atlantic

(443) 833-8225

sgreenberg@naniaenergy.com

 

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2020 PG&E Direct Access Lottery

By Michael DeCaluwe

The utility PG&E in California is holding a direct access lottery June 8-12 for customers that would like to see if a retail supplier could save them money on electricity supply costs.

The last time the utility held this lottery, customers routinely saw 30% savings versus the default utility supply rate.

The application process is risk-free, and customers selected for the lottery are not required to switch to a supplier. They only get the option to switch.

There will likely not be another lottery for several years, so this opportunity is only for a short window.

If you’re interested in applying for the auction and saving money on your PG&E electric bill, contact our office NOW. We can help you with the application process.

TMT: Energy Challenges for Manufacturers

Video Transcript

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another Nania Energy Advisors’ Two-Minute Tuesday. I’m AJ Brockman, Nania’s Content Marketing Manager. Today we will be talking with Senior Energy Advisor and Mid-Atlantic Manager Mike Eckenroth about the specific challenges that manufacturers face when it comes to energy. So let’s get started!

Energy Challenges for Manufacturers

AJ: So Mike, when it comes to energy, what would you say are the top two to three challenges manufacturers typically face?

Mike E: Good question! I would say number one is probably how to reduce and control energy costs.

Manufacturing is typically an energy-intensive process. You’re taking a number of raw materials, putting them through your process, and converting them into what you want to make. And throughout that process, there’s a lot of energy consumed. So the concern is about how to reduce and control those costs to keep operational costs low.

Secondly, manufacturers want efficiency and confidence in their energy procurement, which isn’t always easy to have. There’s a lot of different choices available — brokers, advisors, consultants, suppliers and products — to choose from. Figuring out a process to determine which method to use for procurement is definitely a challenge.

Tips for Reducing Costs

AJ: And when you talk to manufacturers or decision makers in manufacturing, what sorts of tips or solutions to those challenges are they typically looking for?

ME: So to answer the second point, we did a broker versus advisor video a few months ago, so I recommend they check that out. But, really, it’s about finding an advisor or consultant that you trust and that sits on your side of the table.

You want them negotiating with suppliers on your behalf to achieve your goals. So you should feel that all of those things are being met by them, and I’d recommend interviewing a few different ones to get a feel of who has your best interests in mind and who you have the most confidence in.

Secondly, they’re looking to identify opportunities that they might not have seen otherwise. The number one way to do this is with an energy audit.

You have various operations that you’re doing day in and day out, and you might not realize there are opportunities in front of you for that. This could be things like LEDs or HVAC controls, variable frequency drives, water controls. An energy audit will identify those opportunities, and then we can prioritize those according to your ROI goals. So this is really about making you more efficient, doing more of the same output with less energy input, reducing those costs from that side.

Along that same vein is demand response. Demand response is a voluntary curtailment program during emergencies. So for a few hours of participation a year, a manufacturer could earn tens of thousands of dollars in payment for those.

This is particularly important for manufacturers because they usually have some control over when their energy is being consumed. They can schedule activities at different times and things like that, and so it’s typically a program that works really well for them.

And lastly is tax exemptions. This has been huge for manufacturers that we work with. Nania Energy is not a tax firm, we are not licensed tax professionals that can provide advice on taxes.

However, we’re aware of some exemptions that exist, and we can double check your bills for those. So if you are paying taxes and you shouldn’t be, that’s something we’ll be able to take a look at and either recommend you to one of our partnered tax firms or have you investigate it and recover that money (up to 48 months in some states) as well as remove that cost going forward. So that’s really low-hanging fruit that’s available for manufacturers.

Sustainable Manufacturing

AJ: Great tips, Mike. Lastly, I want to talk about green energy. Sustainability is starting to become more of a factor for both producers and consumers. What advice would you give to manufacturers who are interested in going green?

ME: So what we talked about with energy audits: even though it may or may not seem like that’s the easiest way to go green, it probably is one of the easiest. There’s a lot of wasted energy in a lot of different processes that manufacturers use, and there are ways to recover that. There are ROIs that are increasingly lower and lower to match those 2 and 3 year goals that some organizations have for that. So that would be number one: looking for those efficiency opportunities.

Number two is sourcing your energy with green power. Typically, energy supply agreements are going to be maybe 10 percent renewable, depending on your state or municipality. And there are opportunities for you to source 100 percent of your energy from renewable sources.

You do pay a little bit of a premium for it, but you’re talking about one to two percent, so it’s very manageable if green energy is a corporate initiative or an initiative for your organization. That’s definitely a way to achieve that.

And thirdly is on-site generation. This is typically a little less popular, mostly because you have to have the floor space or the space to dedicate to it. There are requirements, such as how long you’re going to be in the building, lease obligations, and ROI constraints that you have to sort through.

On-site generation is going to have longer ROI, but if you have the square footage or roof space to allocate to solar and you have a longer term that you’re willing to accept the ROI for, that’s absolutely something you should be looking into and could provide some of the results you’re looking for.

 

AJ: Great! Well thanks so much, Mike, for all of that great information. And thank you to everyone for watching our video! If you’re in manufacturing or you’re a decision maker for a manufacturing facility, tune in to our webinar on June 25th. We will be presenting some energy tips that are specific to you.

Thanks again for watching! If you found this video helpful, please like, comment, or share below.

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