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EV Charging Stations Made Affordable

By Calvin Cornish, CEM

It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote my last EV charging station article. And a lot has changed since then.

  • In 2017, there were 199,829 EVs sold in the US. That number nearly doubled in 2018 to 361,307. And as of August 2019, there have been 200,194 sold.
  • JP Morgan estimates that EVs and hybrid EVs will account for around 30% of all vehicle sales by 2025.
  • Automakers are preparing for the market shift — Tesla isn’t the only buying option for EVs.

How can you prepare your facility for this EV influx?

A new way to pay for an EV charging station may be part of the answer.

New EV Charging Trend: Lease/Rent to Own

The lease-to-own model benefits more than one party involved. Let’s look at the phone industry as an example.

For cell phone providers, this model:

  • Ensures revenue for network carriers
  • Encourages end users to upgrade more frequently
  • And makes smart phones more attainable to more people.

EV charging station manufacturers and networks are adopting the model as well. Companies like EVGo, ChargePoint, and Blink are reducing barriers to entry by improving the upfront economics and positioning charging stations as an operating expense.

What are the benefits of leasing to own?

1) Lower Upfront Costs

Leasing an EV charging station can dramatically reduce your initial investment. As a site owner, you’re responsible for preparing and running power to the charging station.

On average, preparations account for 30% of traditional upfront costs.

2) Reduced Management and Risk

Leasing your charging station shifts responsibilities back on the vendor that you would have had if you bought the station outright. These responsibilities include:

  • Allocating costs
  • Managing station availability
  • Maintaining functionality

Since the vendor owns the device, they bear the costs and liability for servicing and repairing it.

3) Opportunity to Recoup Costs

When you install a charging station, you can decide whether you’d like to charge patrons for using it.

With costs around $100 per month, you can assume that the revenue generated will eventually cover your operating expenses.

Depending on your initial costs to prepare the site, your payback period could be shorter than the term of your lease.

4) Enhancing Your Station’s Capabilities

As battery technology improves, charge times continue to drop. Leasing allows you to upgrade at the end of your lease term, and you can decide how much you’d like to continue investing in the station.

You can make sure your charging station is up to date and continues attracting users.

Know your EV Charging options.

The EV charging marketplace is still developing, and there’s a lot more to consider than whether to lease or buy a station.

If you’re considering diving in, talk to an energy advisor to discuss your needs before bringing in a representative from a charging company.

Keep an eye out for my next post which will cover questions to ask yourself before leasing or buying a charging station.

 

About the Author

Calvin has served as a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor at Nania Energy Advisors since 2010. He specializes in preparing property management boards to make informed decisions on energy efficiency through property industry education. His clients include apartment complexes, condominium associations, and senior living facilities. In his free time, Calvin enjoys music and coaching youth sports.

Calvin can be reached at (630) 225-4554 or at ccornish@naniaenergy.com.

The (Not-So-Distant) Future of Energy

By Michael Zaura

One question I’ve been asked over the past few weeks is: “What future energy trends are you seeing, and how will they impact my business?”

As an energy advisor, I don’t take this question lightly. Keeping up with energy news and understanding how emerging technology will affect the energy market is important for current and future planning.

Recent energy news stories can give you a sense of where the industry is headed. 3 items you’ll want to keep an eye on are:

  1. Renewable energy generation,
  2. Energy storage technology, and
  3. The US-China trade negotiations.

Renewable energy generation is hitting new highs.

Renewable energy sources are rapidly increasing their foothold in our electricity supply. Just a few months ago, renewables surpassed coal as the top electricity generation source. In 2018, renewables accounted for about 17% of US electricity generation. This number is expected to grow as more solar panels and wind turbines come online.

Renewable energy options are more available and economical than ever before. Users are buying more “green energy” as opposed to traditional “brown energy.” Customers of all sizes — including businesses like Starbucks — are taking advantage of this opportunity in the market. Utilities across the country are offering new incentives for solar projects for both residential and C&I consumers.

Just 5 years ago, renewables were considered too costly and weren’t generating enough supply to make an impact. Overtaking coal this quickly shows us that renewables will be a big part of energy discussions and strategies going forward.

Energy storage is becoming more prominent.

As renewable generation increases, where is the excess generated power going?

The answer: batteries.

Energy storage is important. It’s also important that the stored energy can be dispersed when it’s needed. Think about a facility’s solar panels. Those panels are generating electrical energy while the sun’s out. When the sun goes down, the facility can use its stored energy to keep the lights on instead of going to the grid. However, if the battery can only hold an hour’s worth of power or can’t release the power efficiently, it won’t be very effective.

While the technology is good right now, the research being poured into it will only make the products better by increasing their capacity and flexibility. The “next big battery breakthrough” is coming. And as the companies developing these batteries continue to advance this technology, our energy future is only looking brighter! (get it?)

International events are impacting energy.

One topic the media has incessantly covered is the US-China trade negotiations. As the current world leader in natural gas and oil production, the US has some leverage in these talks. China is the #1 importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and the US is one of the world’s top 3 LNG exporters. Energy minds think this is great for trade, but it could also drive electricity and natural gas away from historically low rates.

Our clients usually ask us to look into our “crystal ball” and give our opinion where the energy market is going. No one know when these trade talks will conclude or how they might shake out. Acting now on historically low energy rates has yielded great savings for our clients over the past few years. How long this pricing environment will last is anyone’s guess, but the outcome of the trade talks is something we’re all watching very closely.

Keep these energy topics on your radar.

So, which one of these trends will have the greatest impact on your business? Chances are, it may be all of them, whether directly or indirectly.

  • Depending on your organization’s sustainability goals, buying green energy through RECs or even investing in hard assets for your facility may be a consideration down the road.
  • Having a reliable battery as an on-site source of energy in the future could keep your facility up and running during a blackout.
  • Lastly, whatever the outcome of the trade negotiations, it makes sense to review your current energy purchasing strategy now while the markets continue to produce historically low pricing.

The chances of rates declining much further are far less than them increasing at a faster pace. Feel free to give me a call or comment below if you’d like to share your thoughts on the future of energy.

 

About the Author

Michael is a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor in the Chicagoland area. He specializes in manufacturing, hospitality, transportation, and renewable/green energy. Michael helps his clients craft energy strategies specific to their current and future situations. He is passionate about renewable/green energy and its growth, continuously learning through reading and sharing publications. He enjoys spending his spare time with his wife, daughter, and triplet boys.

Michael can be reached at (630) 225-4556 or via email at mzaura@naniaenergy.com.

New Maryland Renewables Law

By Mike Eckenroth

On May 22, 2019, Maryland Governor Hogan allowed Senate Bill 516 — Clean Energy Jobs Act to become law. This new law increases Tier 1 Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) compliance to 50% by 2030.

In other words: it mandates that 50% of Maryland’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2030, which is an increase from the previous goal of 25% by 2020.

How does this impact you?

For all electricity consumers in Maryland, this translates to an increase in costs to fund the renewable goal. The chart and graph below show the incrementally increasing RPS requirements and the estimated impact on electricity rates by year. By 2028, a facility who uses 2,000 MWh will be paying over $10,000 more per year in electricity costs.

Maryland RPS Increases

Maryland Renewable Energy Requirement

 

This cost increase IS avoidable!

You are eligible to lock the existing RPS rate and avoid this cost increase.  Those who sign an electricity supply agreement before October 2019 with a participating supplier will be “grandfathered” under the current and lower RPS costs for the duration of the agreement.

Take action today.

It’s not often that you have the chance to completely avoid a new regulatory fee in the energy industry. Please reach out to me to take advantage of this opportunity and learn how it will benefit your business.

About the Author

Mike is a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor based out of Baltimore, Maryland, with a strong engineering and purchasing background. His specialties include energy efficiency and strategic commodity procurement. Growing up in the shadow of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Mike has an intimate stake in a grid with safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy generation — which he leverages into an energy strategy that provides security for his clients.

You can reach Mike via email at meckenroth@naniaenergy.com or phone at 443-833-8224.

The Best Energy ABCs in Illinois

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
    1. Great supplier relations
    2. Quality customer service
    3. Experienced professionals providing accurate and timely advice
    4. 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:

  • Strategy
  • Pricing
  • Budgets
  • Service with existing suppliers
  • Utility issues
  • Billing

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 jnania@naniaenergy.com.

California Direct Access Lottery

By Michael DeCaluwe

About 1 week ago, California regulators finalized procedures to further open California’s electric grid to consumer choice.

California originally opened its electricity market in the 1990s and was on the path to full deregulation. However, the 2001 energy crisis in the state forced them to put a hold on electric choice. Companies that were already taking supply from a 3rd-party provider were allowed to keep doing so through a program called Direct Access, but the state barred any new companies from participating.

California Senate Bill 237

California SB 237, passed in September 2018, opened an additional 4,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) for electric choice beyond the 24,000 GWh that are already with a 3rd-party supplier. Final rules and procedures for companies to participate were passed by state regulators recently.

Why is this important?

This legislation marks the first meaningful opening of California’s electricity market in almost 20 years. California energy costs are the 7th highest in the country. Customers in California who have chosen 3rd-party supply are experiencing 10-50% savings in their energy costs, and this new legislation will allow for more companies to take advantage of these savings.

What is the Direct Access Lottery?

The 3 major California utilities will hold a lottery to decide which additional companies can participate in Direct Access. For companies that haven’t previously applied for the lottery, applications are due this week on Friday, June 14, 2019, by 5:00PM PST.

Nania Energy can help you with the application process. Here’s how:

  • Send us a recent California electricity bill from any one of the 3 major California power utilities:
    1. PG&E
    2. Southern California Edison
    3. San Diego Gas & Electricity
  • We’ll send you the necessary forms to complete to submit your lottery application.
  • Fill out the application and return it to us ASAP — we’ll handle the enrollment in the lottery on your behalf.

Final lottery selections will be made in August 2019 with service stating in January 2021.

If you have any questions on the new legislation or the lottery, please call us at (630) 225-4550 or email us at info@naniaenergy.com.

About the Author

Michael has served as the VP of Commercial & Industrial Sales at Nania Energy Advisors since 2007. He believes that listening to and understanding clients’ energy needs are vital to becoming a thought leader in the industry and forming a mutually beneficial business relationship. In his spare time, Michael enjoys being a dad, staying active, and playing basketball.

Michael can be reached via email at mdecaluwe@naniaenergy.com or via phone at (630) 225-4552.

3 Benefits of Energy Deregulation

By Mike Eckenroth

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of energy deregulation in the United States. Natural gas suppliers were able to sell natural gas directly to consumers with the Natural Gas Wellhead Decontrol Act of 1989, and power producers could do the same with the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Since the inception of energy deregulation, 34 states have at least one of the commodities deregulated, and thousands of customers are using the market to their advantage.

What is Deregulation?

When a state’s energy market becomes “deregulated,” its government passes new energy laws allowing end users to choose who supplies their natural gas or electricity to their local utility and what rate they would like to pay.

In a regulated energy market, consumers are required to purchase energy from the utility.

How Does Deregulation Benefit Consumers?

Customers in a deregulated energy market experience these 3 benefits:

1) Choices

In a regulated energy market, consumers can’t choose their energy supplier — they must use the utility. This makes it difficult for those customers to have influence over their energy strategies.

A deregulated market allows you to decide if you want to use a third-party energy supplier. Having a supplier gives you the power to customize your energy purchasing to meet your goals. You can experiment with different suppliers, contract terms, rates, product types, and renewable energy options to find what combination works best for your business.

You can also choose to work with an advisor that can help you decide what strategy fits your energy needs.

2) Budget Certainty

Your energy bill includes two classes of costs:

  • Supply Cost: the cost of the commodity (electricity, natural gas)
  • Utility Costs or Delivery Costs: the costs to deliver the energy from the supply source to your business (such as capacity and transmission)

The utility’s energy supply rate varies monthly, so your supply costs are different every month. This can make it difficult to have an accurate budget in a regulated energy market.

Budget certainty is more attainable in a deregulated energy market. With a stable supply rate, you can calculate your supply costs based on your estimated usage for each month. Your Utility Costs will still vary with your usage, but it will be easier overall to budget your energy costs.

3) Risk Management

Customers in regulated energy markets are at risk for rate spikes during high demand periods — winter months for gas and summer months for electricity.

In a deregulated market, you can use deregulation to your competitive advantage — especially if you’re striving for low operating costs. Locking in a fixed rate when the market is low protects you from rate spikes, saving you money that you can allocate to new projects, product lines, or other company enhancements.

 

Although deregulation provides some great benefits, there is always the possibility for a state to repeal it. Some states, such as Arkansas, have passed deregulation laws only to overturn them a short time later. And about 10 years ago, the Maryland General Assembly made an attempt to get rid of deregulation. However, lobbying by the Restaurant Association of Maryland as well as other commercial groups made sure it stayed.

As a commercial and industrial customer, it’s important that you take advantage of and support deregulation to protect your right to choose your energy provider.

Put Deregulation To Good Use.

Work with an energy advisor to mine the value of deregulation.

As a veteran in the Mid-Atlantic energy industry, I’ve helped customers identify their energy options and explore solutions that match their goals. Many of my customers are budget-conscious and focused on the bottom line, so risk management is something I help my clients integrate into their energy purchasing strategies. I’d love to see what I can do to make you successful, too.

Give me a call to discuss your energy game plan and learn how to maximize the benefits of deregulation.

 

About the Author

Mike is an energy professional based out of Baltimore, Maryland, with a strong engineering and purchasing background. His specialties include energy efficiency and strategic commodity procurement. Growing up in the shadow of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Mike has an intimate stake in a grid with safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy generation — which he leverages into an energy strategy that provides security for his clients.

You can reach Mike via email at meckenroth@naniaenergy.com or phone at (443) 833-8224.

Nania Energy’s New Year’s Resolutions

By John Nania

Our mission at Nania Energy Advisors is to make energy easy so you can be successful.

As CEO, it’s important to me that our business offerings solve our clients’ problems and give them a competitive edge.

In 2018, prospects and clients approached us with 3 major concerns regarding their energy strategies:

  • Transparency in commodity purchasing,
  • Green energy legislation, and
  • Ways to save money on water bills.

Our Resolutions for 2019

In response to these concerns, here’s what you can expect from Nania Energy Advisors in 2019.

1) More transparency and supplier accountability

There are hundreds of brokers and suppliers with pricing and products that can meet your needs — there’s no denying that. We aim to outdo them all by becoming more transparent because you deserve to know how the energy purchasing process works.

To help meet this goal, we’ve created an in-house reverse auction platform. The platform gives you rate transparency, drives down rates by 7-10% compared to other procurement methods, and hold suppliers accountable by logging bids with time and date stamps.

2) Representation in Springfield

The newly-elected state officials have promised sweeping energy legislation that will significantly impact Illinois businesses and residents.

As the largest energy advisor in the state and a founding member of The Energy Professionals Association (TEPA), Nania Energy Advisors will be representing you and all of our clients as one voice as this energy legislation unfolds.

3) An Expanded Product Mix

Clients are always asking us if we can help them save money on their water bills.

To meet this need, we’ve added the SmartValve™ device to our product offerings. Its easy installation process and quick ROI make it a great option for clients who are new to energy efficiency. With this device in our tool belt, we’ve transformed ourselves from energy advisors to commodity advisors — helping you with power, gas, efficiency projects, and water.

Nania Energy Is On Your Side

We’ve chosen these three resolutions to uphold our company mission — to make energy easy so you can be successful. As someone who started in this business 28 years ago, I’ve come to know the marketplace and what our clients expect from us. We’re continuing on in our quest to be the best, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring.

 

About the AuthorStrategic Energy Advisors John Nania

John has been an energy professional for 28 years. He is the Chief Energy Officer and Founder of Nania Energy Advisors, providing energy services to over 10,000 facilities in 13 states. He has an MBA and is a frequent speaker at energy industry conferences.

John can be reach via email at jnania@naniaenergy.com.

Be Tech Savvy with your Energy Purchasing

By Becky Thompson

The Digital Age has caused major overhauls in many business sectors, and the energy industry is no exception.

New technology available makes managing your energy easier than ever. Let’s say you want to lock in a specific rate. You can receive automated emails letting you know when the market has reached that rate, and you can sign a contract that day.

Or, if you participate in a load management program, you can receive alerts on peak days so you can lower your usage and improve your load profile during the outlined hours.

Revolutionizing Technology

Perhaps the most relevant new technology that is revolutionizing energy purchasing for complex customers is reverse auction software. During a reverse auction, suppliers compete in real time to offer the lowest rate for your electricity or natural gas supply.

Using a reverse auction for your energy procurement benefits you in three ways.

1) You have complete control.

In a reverse auction, you have the opportunity to take part in more steps of the purchasing process. You participate in the RFP creation so you know exactly which suppliers receive it and what is required of them. You can also select the date you want the auction to be held and watch the auction as it’s happening. That way, you can see when and how suppliers are bidding.

Additionally, the auction gives you rate transparency because it strips out any built-in premiums, margins, or last-minute fees that suppliers might otherwise include. This transparency makes it easy for you to explain the auction and its results to your board or executives.

2) The level of competition is elevated.

In traditional energy procurement, suppliers submit a one-time sealed bid and don’t know what rates other suppliers have given.

During a reverse auction, suppliers can see the current low bid as they actively submit their bids in real time. This encourages supplier competition and drives down rates by 7-10% compared to other procurement methods.

3) Your procurement strategy is air-tight.

A reverse auction gives you reliable process documentation. Each bid submitted during the auction is logged with a time and date stamp. This gives you an apples-to-apples comparison between suppliers because all bids are entered within the same time frame and reduces any favorability. The documentation you will receive at the conclusion of the auction validates your purchasing process, which you can share with your board or executives.

Add Technology to your Energy Strategy.

Using technology is a simple way to strengthen your energy strategy. Reverse auctions give you the transparency, competitive rates, and accountability measures that you might not get through other procurement methods.

Contact your energy advisor to see if your organization qualifies for a reverse auction and learn about other valuable tools you can integrate into your energy strategy.

 

About the Author

Becky is a Strategic Energy Advisor specializing in the public sector, including schools and municipalities. She has Strategic Energy Advisors Becky Thompsonbeen in the energy industry for over five years, working from the ground up as an account manager and then as an electric pricing team lead. Her background knowledge of the inner workings of an energy company helps identify actionable strategies for making her clients’ energy strategies both easy and cost effective. In her free time, Becky enjoys any activity that requires being outside and making her son belly laugh.

Becky can be reached via email at bthompson@naniaenergy.com or phone at 630-225-4561.

5 Things You’ll Need to Take Your Illinois Business Solar

By Michael DeCaluwe

May 14, 2018 – Solar energy initiatives have been in the news a lot lately – from requirements to install solar on new homes in California to community solar projects in the Midwest.

Illinois is poised to become a leader in new solar power. There are excellent new economic incentives to install solar at your facility that can lower your electricity costs for the next 20 years.

ComEd and Ameren agreed to create a fund to incentivize building over 3000 MWs of solar and 1000 MWs of wind power in the state as part of the bailout of Exelon’s nuclear fleet by the State of Illinois in 2016. These incentives take the form of rebates. Combined with federal tax credits, most rooftop solar projects in Illinois now have an estimated payback period of 5 years or under.

The lifespan of most solar units is 20-25 years. This means that after the initial payoff period of 4-5 years, customers would essentially be getting “free” power for years 5-25 of the system. This can amount to millions of dollars to some customers (depending on the unit’s size).

Not all sites are good candidates for rooftop solar units. Here are parameters to help you decide if your site is a good fit.

Illinois Solar Program Guidelines

  1. A Newer Roof. You’ll ideally need a roof that has 20-25 years left on its life rating. You don’t want to incur the expense of disassembly and re-installation of the solar array if you need to replace your roof in the next 20 years.
  2. A Large Energy Bill. You need to spend over $130,000 a year on electricity to make solar economical for you.
  3. A Large Roof with Unobstructed Views. A medium-height building (under 5 stories) and large rooftop footprint are also important. Solar panels will be facing south with a 10-degree tilt, so you’ll need a clear view facing that direction.
  4. An Owned (NOT Rented) Facility. Since the array will sit on the roof, the client should ideally own the roof space and expect to occupy it for the next 20 years.
  5. A Federal Tax Liability. Many of the solar incentives come in the form of federal tax credits and accelerated depreciation rules (IRS Code). You’ll need a federal tax liability to offset.

Other Important Things to Know about the Illinois Solar Program

  • The Illinois state solar incentives are provided on a sliding-scale. Companies that enroll in the program first will get the most incentives.
  • There is only a set number of MWs that ComEd and Ameren are funding as part of this program. Once these MWs are used up, the program ends.

If you are at all interested in how much money a solar unit would save your company in energy expenses, call our office now. We will walk you through the process, provide an on-site review of your facility to determine the feasibility of installing a solar unit, and provide an informative proposal that will walk you through the numbers.

This is a big opportunity for businesses in Illinois to reduce expenses and increase your competitiveness. If you fit the parameters outlined in this article, call to see how solar can benefit you.


About The Author

Michael has served as the VP of Commercial & Industrial Sales at Nania Energy Advisors since 2007. He believes that listening to and understanding clients’ energy needs is vital to becoming a thought leader in the industry and forming a mutually beneficial business relationship. In his spare time, Michael enjoys being a dad, staying active and playing basketball.

Michael can be reached via email at mdecaluwe@naniaenergy.com or via phone at 630-225-4552.

5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Bad Energy Brokers

By Mike Eckenroth

March 26, 2018 – Clients tell me all the time: “I get a call every day from one of you brokers. It’s getting to be overwhelming.”

I get it – it’s tough trying to figure out who you can take seriously in the energy industry. The marketplace has become flooded with “brokers” in the last couple years. It seems like every other day, we hear of some new startup group that’s led one of our clients astray.

But the broker model is not my model. I’m an energy advisor – and there is a clear difference. This means not only handling your business’ energy procurement, but also your efficiency upgrades and results tracking afterwards. Unlike a broker, my job doesn’t stop after you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Another part of my job is protecting your business from the bad practices of energy brokers. Here are five ways that I help my clients do that.

Don’t tolerate misleading behavior.

One of the more common tricks brokers use is pretending to be your energy supplier. This gives the appearance of cutting out the middle man so it seems like you’re negotiating your energy contract terms directly. In reality, there are two things wrong with this:

  1. You’re working with someone who’s not being honest about who they are.
  2. You’re left without the ability to get multiple quotes.

When you purchase energy, you want to be negotiating from a position of power. So when you get a call, ask if you can see pricing from multiple suppliers. Multiple suppliers competing for your business in a choice market means lower prices and greater cost savings for you. Advisors like us are happy to show you options.

Demand professionalism in buying energy.

Professionalism in the energy industry means openness and honesty. But energy brokers aren’t always willing to share as much information as they ask of you. It shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. A discussion with a good energy professional should leave you feeling comfortable and empowered.

When you get a call, here are some things you should ask for more detail:

  • Their company.
  • Suppliers with whom they work.
  • What they know about your business.
  • Clients like you they’ve helped.
  • Additional information you can review after the call.

Never make a decision or give verbal authorization for anything on the first call. If you feel pressured to do so, then this is not the partner for you.

Energy advisors love talking about these things. We want to earn your trust by finding you the solutions to your business’ specific challenges. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of our job.

Reinforce your risk tolerance.

When you talk to an energy professional, be upfront about your concerns and what you can’t afford to lose. Ask questions and have them talk you through it. When’s the best time to sign? Will rates go higher or lower? What’s best for my business? Understanding of timing, rates and any risks is essential.

No one can predict the future. But any broker who isn’t comfortable discussing the specific risks associated with energy purchasing for your business is not one with whom you should work.

Energy advisors encourage clients to discuss risk so we can better advise them on every part of their energy strategy. We don’t like surprises either.

Request a needs analysis.

Supply, storage, weather – there are so many forces that cause the energy market to rise and fall. But brokers don’t always look at the whole picture with these things. All too often, they’re only worried about getting you to sign a contract as quickly as they can.

It’s short-sighted. A broker who can’t show you how the changing energy market relates to your business won’t be able to deliver the value that you need.

To better serve our clients, energy advisors conduct a needs analysis. This analysis will both address your organization’s risk tolerance and provide a recommendation specific to your energy needs.

Ask about market volatility.

Energy markets have varying degrees of volatility. That volatility plays a big part in the value of your energy agreement depending on whether you’re on a fixed or indexed price. You should be skeptical of a broker who can’t explain market volatility as it relates to your business’ risk tolerance. Their failure to do so could mean you’re consuming or paying more than you need.

Patience is a virtue not lost on energy advisors. Energy agreements can sometimes take weeks or months to hammer out. But that’s not because one party or the other is too busy. Much of that time is spent waiting for ideal market conditions to develop.

Advisors are happy to keep you up to date on current market conditions and discuss volatility. We’re analyzing historical trends so we can share opportunities for your business to save money or mitigate risk.

Remember:

  • Don’t tolerate misleading behavior.
  • Demand professionalism in buying energy.
  • Request a needs analysis.
  • Reinforce your risk tolerance.
  • Ask about market volatility.

These are the types of frustrations that have made energy buying so overwhelming to many of my clients. But from working with a variety of clients, they’re also the things that I’ve learned to spot and protect them from every day.

Brokers sit across the table from you. Advisors sit right next to you. And I look forward to sitting down with you to find an energy agreement that brings value to your business.


About The Author

 

Mike is a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor based out of Baltimore, Maryland, with a strong engineering and purchasing background. His specialties include energy efficiency and strategic commodity procurement. Growing up in the shadow of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Mike has an intimate stake in a grid with safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy generation — which he leverages into an energy strategy that provides security for his clients.

You can reach Mike via email at meckenroth@naniaenergy.com or phone at (443) 833-8224.