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What to Expect from a Virtual Tradeshow – TMT

April 14, 2021 – What should you expect at a virtual tradeshow? In this video, Calvin Cornish, CEM discusses the format of virtual events and shares some tips on how to make the most of your experience.

Video Transcript

When it comes to finding information on the latest industry trends and best practices, you likely turn to blogs, articles, newsletters, or weekly videos such as our Two-Minute Tuesdays. 

While these are all good sources of information, few things top conferences and tradeshows for getting current and timely information in an efficient manner. Tradeshows in particular are great opportunities to get live answers to your specific questions on multiple topics.

Obviously, a lot of shows were cancelled last year, and while smaller events are starting to come back,  this year many of the larger ones are moving to online platforms. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what in the world that would look like and how to get the most bang for you buck out of a virtual tradeshow.

So in this week’s video, we’ll be talking about what to expect from a virtual event and a few tips for making the most of your experience.

What’s different at a virtual tradeshow?

At a typical event, you expect to have exhibit hall time between presentations when you’ll walk the show floor. You’ll visit a variety of booths, collect information, and ask questions. If you’re lucky, you may even win a prize or two. Afterward, there’s usually a cocktail hour or another networking event where you can catch up with some folks you missed.

At a virtual event, there are virtual booths which are like mini websites hosting a variety of content. You’ll be able to download those same informational sheets, but there may be links to articles and videos in addition to them.

As far as exhibit time, there generally will be time for visiting those booths. But there will often be 24-hour access or even over multiple days of a full conference where you can go back and visit those same virtual booths.

As far as communication, you can expect to see features like:

  • Live chat
  • Video chat
  • Links to private Zoom meetings

within these virtual booths.

Virtual Tradeshow Attendee Tips

Now here are a few quick tips for making the most of your next virtual event.

1) Plan ahead!

Review the directories and presentation topics to help you spur questions. Jot down a list of questions and which exhibitors you think would have good answers.

2) Schedule booth visits with key vendors.

Look to schedule booth visits with key vendors outside of the designated exhibit time so that you can make the most of that time in meeting new folks.

3) Write notes and questions during presentations.

Note question within a presentation so that you can follow up with those when you get out on the virtual floor.

4) Can’t make a presentation?

Schedule a session with the presenter. Then, during the exhibit time, find similar companies to visit and get a second opinion.

Thanks for watching!

Thanks for checking out our Two-Minute Tuesday. And if you’re a property manager, be sure to visit our virtual booth at the CAI Expo starting April 27th!

You can find links on our website for upcoming shows in other industries as well.

If you’ve got feedback or know of some great shows coming up, feel free to share them in the comments, and remember to like and share below.

 

Upcoming Events

Demand Response for Hotels – TMT

March 30, 2021 – Are hotels a good fit for a demand response program? In this video, Strategic Energy Advisor Sam Greenberg explains how hotels can participate in the program and generate extra revenue for their properties.

Video Transcript

Hi! I’m Sam Greenberg, Strategic Energy Advisor with Nania. Did you know enrollment for demand response in PJM is coming to a close for 2021?

Don’t worry — it’s not too late, but spots are filling up fast.

For this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, I’m going to address whether it makes sense for hotels to sign up for demand response.

What is Demand Response?

Demand response is a program that provides financial payments to power customers for their ability to reduce electricity usage during times of peak grid demand. Think of hot summer days when it is 100 degrees out, and A/C usage is at its peak.

Depending on the amount that you are able to reduce from your average usage, this program could mean additional revenue for your business.

Are hotels a good fit for demand response?

Every commercial property has the ability to curtail their usage, but for some businesses, it may be easier than others.

If you’re a hotel owner, you may think that curtailing is impossible because you can’t tell your guests in their rooms to turn off their air. However, some hotel operators have found creative ways to reduce usage and participate in this program.

  • Does your hotel have on-site laundry?
  • Does it have a heated pool?
  • Do you have a modern building automation system (BAS) that allows you to adjust thermostat temperatures or pre-cool your building?

If you are able to reduce usage for a one-hour test event each year, you qualify for the program and the financial incentives that come with it.

There are other ancillary ways to reduce usage, such as shutting down an elevator or two or dimming LED lights if your system allows for it. The more you’re able to reduce, the greater your payment under the program will be.

Bonus Benefit of Demand Response

Not only is demand response an opportunity to put additional money in your pocket as a business owner, but it also makes your business look good since you’re doing your part to support the grid while prioritizing energy efficiency.

Demand response is not for everyone, but it is a way to capture additional revenue for those who can participate. Given the past 12 months for hotels, signing up for this program before the May 1st deadline could be a great way to ease some of the financial burden that COVID has places upon the industry.

If you have any questions about signing up for demand response, please contact me or any of the advisors on our Nania team.

Thanks for watching, and have a great day!

What is force majeure in energy contracts? – TMT

March 9, 2021 – What is force majeure in energy agreements? In this video, CEO John Nania explains how this contract language impacted Texas energy consumers after the grid failure in February.

Video Transcript

Hi! My name is John Nania. I’m the Chief Energy Officer here at Nania Energy Advisors. I’ve got about 30 years of experience in the energy market, and today the reason we’re talking to you is because in those 30 years, we’ve never witnessed the calamity that is what happened in Texas in the month of February.

So we’re going to talk a little bit about that and how it can affect you and what you can do to prevent any kind of harm from coming to you in the future.

What happened in Texas?

In Texas, we had record cold that shuttered gas supply and made it impossible for electric generators to create electricity. And so effectively, they had an abundance of demand and not enough supply on both gas and electric. The end result is that we had priced that skyrocketed to levels unprecedented in the energy market.

So although this happened in Texas, the effects are being felt elsewhere throughout the country.

Why are we talking about this? Because, ultimately, it’s going to affect how business is done in the energy business going forward.

How can clients with a fixed price be so hurt by this?

This is one of the questions that’s being asked right now. And to answer that, we have to look at what’s in the agreement.

If someone has a fixed price — you’ve contracted for energy for all of your consumption, hypothetically — you should be able to rest assured that in almost all circumstances that’s exactly what you should get.

So what went wrong down there? Mother Nature.

What is force majeure?

In every energy agreement, there’s a clause called force majeure or acts of God. They’re about the same. Acts of God contemplate events that happen in nature that are outside of everybody’s control.

Force majeure incorporates those acts of nature as well as contemplates that there are acts that man created. Think about war, riots, civil unrest, things like that.

In this case, it might be that there was some legislative or regulatory interference in the marketplace that caused this. But regardless, it’s outside of either the supplier’s or the customer’s control.

So when force majeure or an act of God is declared, it relieves the obligation of the parties to fulfill their obligations under the contract and throws everything up in the air.

No one in the supply community likes to declare force majeure.

It’s an evil word for many, but it is what it is. It’s the first time since 2013 or 2014 that it’s been called.

To the extent that it happened in Texas, we’re seeing that in other markets prices rose dramatically. And depending on where the supplier purchased their power or gas for their customers throughout the country, they may have passed along some of those costs to their customers.

So this is a time to be incredibly keenly tuned into your energy bills to look for discrepancies and to challenge whatever is behind the numbers this month. This will help you be better apprised of what happened. And if there is some opportunity to learn from this or to do a better job of hedging yourself, you can do that going forward.

Why is this important to you?

To ensure that this calamity that hit the users in Texas doesn’t happen to you, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. First, it’s important to always use a good supplier that’s well capitalized. You want to make sure that if something like this happens, they’re not going to be in a position where they can’t fulfill their obligations — even if they wanted to.
  2. Second, it’s time to check the fine print in energy agreements about force majeure or acts of God or material change rules or language.
  3. And third, it gets back to the intent of the company that you’re buying from. They may have the best intentions. They may have good finances. But at the end of the day, if they’re not really committed to taking care of their customers, then you may have a problem.

 

So I hope this is all beneficial! And should you need any help with your (in particular) February invoices, please feel free to give us a holler. Thanks!

Texas Grid Failure: Could it happen here? – TMT

March 1, 2021 – Could the Texas grid failure happen in other electricity markets? In this video, Senior Vice President Michael DeCaluwe, CEM explains why or why not.

Video Transcript

After the failure of Texas’ electricity market two weeks ago, the question we’re frequently getting is: Could that happen here?

We’ll answer that question in today’s Two-Minute Tuesday.

When we talk about what happened in Texas happening in “our market”, we’re talking about any of the US’ deregulated electricity markets, which primarily consists of Illinois across to Maryland and all the way up to New England.

Now there’s three main reasons why what happened in Texas likely would not happen in these markets.

Reason #1: Texas is its own standalone electricity market.

The Texas market is regulated by a company called ERCOT, which is the Electric Reliability Counsel of Texas. So whereas the Midwest and Northeast markets are connected to each other, if they ran out of power, they could call on each other for assistance.

Texas’ market is not connected to the rest of the US. So you can see what happened — when it ran out of power, it had nowhere to go. That’s one of the main reasons why what happened in Texas likely could not happen in other markets.

Reason #2: Texas has no capacity market.

Capacity markets are programs in the Midwest and the Northeast where the grid pays power generators for simply the ability to produce power. This ability to produce power creates reliability for the grid so that when the generators are called on to produce power, the grid knows that it can rely on these companies.

Now there’s big penalties if these generators are not able to provide the power that they agreed to. So these generators have financial incentive to upkeep their equipment to provide that reliability.

Texas does not have that market, so there is not that same economic incentive for these generators to provide reliable power.

Reason #3: Texas lacks a winter capacity market.

Now a third reason why what happened in Texas likely would not happen elsewhere is that beyond the capacity markets, some markets have winter capacity markets.

As an extra measure of reliability, the US’ largest electricity grid operates a winter capacity market. Prior to 2014, there were only summer capacity markets because the thought was that that was the peak time for electricity usage.

In 2014, we had the Polar Vortex that many of you might remember. And a lot of generators froze — power lines froze up, a lot of the gas lines froze. So PJM created a winter capacity market, and what that meant is these generators had to put in extra money to ensure winter reliability of their grid.

It’s a extra measure of protection that, as we’ve seen, could have helped Texas these past two weeks. So, again, the presence of a winter capacity market is another reason we probably would not see in other markets what happened in Texas two weeks ago.

 

So what happened in Texas two weeks ago, could this happen in our other deregulated energy markets? Likely not. There’s some structural fundamental differences between these markets, and some of our Midwest and Northeast electric markets have additional reliability through our capacity markets that make what happened in Texas extremely unlikely to happen in some of these other markets.

Hope you enjoyed our video this week, and be sure to like it and look for more continued Two-Minute Tuesday videos. Thanks for watching!

Why does incremental usage matter? – TMT

February 23, 2021 – Why does incremental usage matter if you have a fixed rate for natural gas? In this video, Senior Energy Advisor Calvin Cornish, CEM explains why you may be at risk of higher prices even if you have a fixed natural gas rate.

Video Transcript

Thanks for tuning in as we wrap up this month’s theme of answering frequently asked questions. This week’s question: How can I be at risk of higher prices if I’ve already locked in a rate?

The short answer: monthly and daily balancing. The slightly longer answer is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday.

What is incremental usage?

In an effort to manage risk and reduce cost volatility, the overwhelming majority of gas users regularly lock in fixed rates for some — if not all — of their anticipated usage. The key word there is anticipated.

The difference between your expected usage and actual usage is balanced on a monthly basis. This incremental usage shows up on your bill as a buy or sell based on market rates at the end of the month.

In a typical month, this variance should be minimal; however, large deviations in volume or price can have a noticeable impact. In extreme cases like the Polar Vortex or Winter Storm Uri, the increased volume combined with spiking rates can result in monthly balancing that doubles your supply cost.

Daily Balancing

So, what about daily balancing? When a utility calls a critical day like most did last week, suppliers are subject to very tight daily restrictions, where any deviation from those can result in massive penalties from the utility.

These penalties are in place to protect system stability and ensure that suppliers will purchase and deliver enough gas to meet daily needs, even if they are taking a loss.

A Note on Contract Language

This is where supplier-specific contract language comes into play. Most contracts protect clients against these penalties. Unless you make a huge change, such as shutting down operations without giving notice, you are covered.

As for the extraordinarily high prices incurred on these days, that language varies by supplier and product. It may be very specific, allowing for critical day adjustments. In many cases, it may simply say something like “…price based on a market rate reflecting supplier’s actual costs.”

If you’re not sure about the specifics of your current agreement, react out to your energy advisor.

 

For more information on Critical Days,  check out our recent blog post on how critical days affect your natural gas bills.

As always, thanks for watching, and if you found it useful, please like, share, or comment below.

What does an OFO mean for your gas bill?

By AJ Brockman

February 15, 2021 – Our nation’s recent frigid temps have created some changes to the US energy markets.

Due to the high demand for natural gas caused by severe weather conditions, utilities across the country are issuing Operational Flow Orders (OFOs) or Critical Notices.

What is an OFO?

Under an OFO or Critical Notice, every natural gas customer must adhere to their monthly usage quantities indicated on their natural gas agreement/schedule. Any incremental usage above this quantity is subject to extreme market rates, which will impact your bill and ultimately your bottom line.

It’s important to note that these charges are not under your supplier’s control; your supplier is complying with the order that is coming from your local utility. Your supplier remains dedicated to providing you the natural gas you need in accordance with your contract terms.

What does this mean for you?

For those customers who are expecting to use more gas this week for heating, these OFOs could mean increased costs associated with your natural gas. Both your utility and supplier will do their best to protect you from these additional costs, but the risk remains for all gas customers in affected areas.

What can you do?

There are a few basic actions you can take:

  • If you have a zonal building management system and any vacant areas, you can reduce natural gas usage by lowering your heat temperature in any unoccupied area.
  • Turn down thermostats in any unoccupied areas.
  • Try to modulate your temperature settings whenever and wherever possible to reduce gas usage.

While this is directly impacting natural gas rates, electricity rates will likely also be affected. For those clients on an index power product, we would recommend curtailing power usage if at all possible to minimize cost increases.

 

Our offices are open today and our advisors are available, so please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

What is RPS on your electric invoice? – TMT

Video Transcript

Hey! I’m Mike at Nania Energy.

If you’ve looked into green energy options in the past, you know you can source 100 percent renewable energy by purchasing RECs. However, you might be surprised to learn that some of the energy you consume has already been generated by renewable sources. Some states mandate the minimum amount or renewable energy a facility consumes through a charge called Renewable Portfolio Standard.

In this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, we’re going to dive into what RPS is and why it matters to you.

What is RPS?

In the US, 29 states plus Washington, D.C., require electric suppliers to include a minimum percentage of renewable energy in their electricity supply. As of right now, there’s no federal law mandating renewably sourced energy, so it’s left to the states and their constituents on how they want to tackle green energy adoption.

Because it’s not centrally regulated, RPS programs vary from state to state, as you can see here.

RPS Programs by State

RPS Programs by State. Source: Berkely Lab, Electricity Markets and Policy

Some states have chosen very aggressive goals, like Washington, D.C. at 100 percent green by 2032. Others have more modest goals, like Arizona at 15 percent by 2025. As deadlines for these approach, most states are electing to extend them, but some let them expire, like Iowa did with their 1999 goal.

Why is there an RPS charge on your electric bill?

So why are you seeing this additional charge on your invoice? Regardless of your electricity supplier, they’re going to pass the cost through to you to comply with state law. You’ll see this on your electric invoice as a line item most commonly referred to as Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS.

RPS Line Item Example

RPS Line Item Example

Depending on your state and your electricity product, the RPS charge might be included in your fixed price or separated out on your utility bill.

For some of our clients, RPS makes up as little as two percent of their electricity cost, but for others it makes up over ten percent of their total cost. If current trends continue, we’re going to see Renewable Portfolio Standards become a larger part of your electric costs.

If you have any questions about RPS that we haven’t answered here, feel free to reach out.

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

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How to Time Your Energy Purchase – TMT

Video Transcript

Hey guys! It’s Becky here with this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. In keeping with our theme of kicking 2021 off on the right foot, I thought I’d address one of the commonly asked questions I receive from my clients: When should I go to market?

Now there’s no proverbial crystal ball. Everyone knows that. But we used to gauge patterns based off of following weather. So you wouldn’t buy gas in the winter, and you wouldn’t buy power in the summer.

But as the last couple of years have shown us, that doesn’t really exist anymore.

Factors Impacting the Energy Market

We had some of the lowest natural gas pricing in 20 years in March of last year when there was still snow on the ground. The year before that, the fourth of July in 2019 showed us ridiculously low electricity rates.

So how are you supposed to know when to go to market?

Well, let’s slow down and look at the facts.

Year over year, we know that natural gas is down about 25 percent from this time last year. While the rig count has be steadily increasing, it still hasn’t returned to its full capacity.

Meanwhile, exports of liquefied natural gas are at record all-time highs. They’re receiving $14 per MMBtu right now in China, whereas here domestically they’re getting a little over $2. So there’s definitely demand increasing for exports.

However, demand domestically hasn’t returned quite yet. We’ve had a very mild winter, and we’re still experiencing some of the effects of COVID-19 shutdowns. This summer should prove some volatility to return as demand comes back online for both natural gas and power. We hope that production will follow, but at this point it’s still not up to capacity.

That all said, how are you supposed to make a decision on when you should be looking at your options to make an energy purchase?

A Shift in Perspective

I’d encourage you to switch the conversation from savings to risk management. Are you willing to look at some options now and potentially pay a little bit higher than your current contract to have safety and security and lock in for the next three years? Or, are you willing to take on a little more risk and ride the market and see how the change in political parties or social and economic factors play out? How is the vaccine going to have an effect on shutdowns?

It could go either way, it just depends on the risk level that you’re comfortable with as an organization and what you’d like to see as an end result.

So, I’d encourage you to have the conversation now with your strategic energy advisor just so you’re on the same page. You can set up some market watches to start watching pricing if you’re not quite ready to take action yet. But at least you’ll be in the know when the opportunity arises to make your energy purchase.

Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you next week!

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Two-Minute Tuesday Recap

Video Transcript

Hi! This is Michael DeCaluwe from Nania Energy Advisors, and happy 2021!

You know, 2020 brought a lot of challenges. It meant working from home. It turned Amazon and Instacart into verbs. Your baby monitor is now next to your laptop. As we look into 2021, we want to review our Two-Minute Tuesdays — topics we covered last year and what we have planned moving forward.

In 2020, we reviewed such things as utility rebates, percentage swings and gas products, and what an energy advisor is and does. We try to keep these videos under two minutes, but it usually depends on who’s giving the video whether that’s successful or not.

The information we provide is geared to be actionable items that you can apply to your own individual energy strategy.

As we look to 2021, we’re excited to hit the ground running and continue to provide valuable content. If there’s any specific topics that you want to see covered, please feel free to reach out. Otherwise, look for further videos on Tuesdays, and good luck to you in 2021!

Have a Two-Minute Tuesday topic in mind? Reach out to our Content Marketing Manager AJ Brockman at abrockman@naniaenergy.com.

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What is a Price Trigger? – TMT

Video Transcript

Hi! Welcome to this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday where we’re going to be talking about strike prices and fixed price triggers. We’ll be answering some questions about what those are and when someone might use them.

Strike Price vs. Price Trigger

A strike price is more of a technical investment term. When you’re looking at purchasing natural gas and electricity, we’re most likely talking about a price trigger.

A price trigger is when a client authorizes a set market price that the market might go down to, at which point a transaction might be automatically executed or approved to be executed.

When should you use a price trigger?

Here are a few situations where that might be used.

1) Slower Decision Making/Authorization Process

The first is when you have a slower decision making or authorization process. Good examples of this are school boards or condominium associations where they need to have a group vote in order to approve a transaction.

Obviously this isn’t very conducive with market volatility and moving quickly on a price. So what they might do is approve a price trigger and a specific target to be executed in the near future. In this situation, it would be automatically executed based on that target price, so they don’t have to go back and get additional approvals.

2) Multiple transactions

Another situation where someone might use this is a large user who is making multiple transactions. Think of a data center or a large manufacturer for whom energy is a significant cost in the price of their product.

In this case, they’re making many transactions over time, and they want to streamline that process so they can execute more quickly based on market volatility. In this scenario, they may or may not execute automatically.

Often, there’s a buyer or someone in place who can make those decisions, and what they really want is to be notified when the price hits that level so they can give a quick yes or no and then the transaction would occur. But the transaction wouldn’t be slowed down by paperwork or needing to get things signed right at that moment; it’s all been done in advance with the price trigger.

3) Market Monitoring

The third scenario is for market monitoring purposes. We use this often when we’ve got a client with a contract that’s up at the end of the year, and maybe we’re looking to see if the market drops below the current price for a client and we want to take advantage of that.

So in that situation, there wouldn’t be an automatic execution, but that price trigger would set off a notification to let us know where the market’s at so we can look at it and bring it to a client for evaluation and then to potentially make a decision on that.

So those are three different scenarios with three slightly different outcomes on a price trigger. But the core point is setting and approving a target price at which some transaction or notification is going to be exercised in the future.

If you think price triggers might be a good fit for you or if you just have general questions, reach out to your energy advisor for further details.

As always, thanks for watching, and please comment, like, or share below!

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