Energy News

Beware of Energy Scams

Know the signs.

We are hearing from an alarming number of businesses being bombarded by constant phone calls from companies promising rebates or refunds, extremely low rates, outstanding contract terms, or all of the above. In some cases, the caller even claims they will pay early termination fees incurred for canceling an existing contract.

They will say whatever they need to say to get you to agree to their offer. Their tactics are often as simple as getting you talking to get the information they need to change your program. If they don’t get anywhere with you, they will likely try to trick your employees into agreeing on your behalf. 

High-pressure methods characterize these callers. Often pushing for an immediate decision, they’ll tell you the offer is only good at that moment. Ask to see the contract in writing and offer to follow up later in the day. Chances are, you won’t see the contract you’re being asked to approve – or if you do, you won’t be given the necessary time to review it before the offer “expires.”

In these instances, it is important to understand the contract terms and the rate you can expect to pay. Often callers promise a low rate in combination with a credit or rebates in exchange for signing a contract with them. It may even seem like a good deal. But after the “introductory period” the rate changes – often beyond doubling – then businesses realize they’ve been swindled into a bad deal.

Other tricks may be even more deceptive.

The callers seem helpful, suggesting they’d like to see if they can’t help you get a “better rate” and then they ask you to get a copy of your bill so you can give them a little information. Once you provide them with the information – even if you don’t accept their offer – they will attempt to switch your provider. Often customers don’t immediately realize a change occurred until alerted to a problem – usually outrageously high bills.

This has had significant financial consequences for some businesses.   

That’s why it’s important to have a plan for addressing such calls.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Don’t assume the Caller ID is correct. Scammers frequently spoof the phone number for utilities and energy suppliers to make it look like the phone call is coming from someplace legitimate.
  • Hang up. Don’t wait on the line if you suspect something is wrong.
  • Don’t provide callers with account information.
  • Don’t agree to anything over the phone. Get it in writing.
  • Tell the caller you intend on doing your research first.
  • Research the company on the Better Business Bureau site.
  • Review the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker.
  • Still not sure? Call your broker. If you don’t have one, call us at 1-866-646-7322. We can help.
  • Educate your employees. Make sure everyone knows the name of your energy broker, supplier, or utility provider – or at least where to find the information.

Remember, credible energy companies will never pressure you for an immediate, over-the-phone decision.

If you suspect you’ve been scammed, take action.

To help you educate your team, we’ve prepared a couple of free resources you can download here.

Help Your Team Spot Energy Scams

5 Ways to Protect your Business from Energy Scams

Coal and Nuke Bailout On Hold

Coal and Nuke Bailout On Hold
 This week Politico reported that Trump administration plans to save aging coal and nuclear plants have stalled in the absence of clearly identified financial backing. Some speculated the cost burden would fall squarely on the shoulders of customers – potentially bearing an annual price tag of $9.7 billion to $17.2 billion.Energy Secretary Rick Perry argued the price tag is well worth the infrastructure resiliency afforded by coal and nuclear power plants which are capable of storing months of fuel.All five of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) members countered there is no emergency justification for the bailout and that the unprecedented federal intervention could lead to an unraveling of wholesale power markets.Sustained by shared opposition from Trump’s advisers on both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, without significant tolerance for price increases to pay for the plan, it’s possible as the list of coal and nuclear plants under bankruptcy grows, Trump is quietly walking back his support for coal’s Hail Mary – at least for now.

Large-scale wind power has its down side – Harvard Gazette

A new study from Harvard University indicates that while wind energy provides long-term advantages over natural gas and coal, the renewable is not as clean as previously thought. Findings show that large-scale wind deployments require more land than accounted for by initial studies. Early findings also failed to identify turbine-caused temperature increases.

So while wind has already outpaced solar as America’s go-to renewable, solar’s environmental impact is ten times less than that of its blustery counterpart.

The study’s authors warn that this information should not be taken as a case against wind energy. “Rather, the work should be seen as a first step in getting more serious about assessing these impacts for all renewables.”

Source: Large-scale wind power has its down side – Harvard Gazette

FERC – No Emergency in Power Market

nuclear power plants behind solar panels

Suggests Price Instability Is The Larger Threat

All five members of FERC, the regulatory group responsible for the U.S. power grid, stated there is nothing to suggest an forthcoming emergency in the country’s electricity markets. Their testimony before Tuesday’s Senate hearing could undermine the Trump administration’s efforts to save ailing coal and nuclear plants through subsidies. Many of the plants have closed or signaled closure in the face of plentiful natural gas, growth in wind and solar power, and stagnant power demand.

Source: Reuters, U.S. electricity commission sees no emergency in power market


Learn more about controlling your energy costs through managing your load or contact us for a tailored energy savings analysis.

Did Christmas come early for the coal industry?

Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, the largest underground coal mining company in the US based in St. Clairsville (OH) has been one of the most outspoken people in the “war on coal”. Although pleased with the outcome of the election, his excitement is tempered by an underlying reality of how quickly things have changed in the power generation sector.
Mr. Murray would probably like Santa to deliver everyone a lump of coal in their stockings (as a good thing) this year, but is also keenly aware that natural gas and renewables (wind/solar) are taking a larger and larger piece of the generation pie. In fact, in 2007 coal represented 48.5% of the main fuel source for generation, today (through June 2016) it is sitting just under 30%.
Interesting that he doesn’t see the jobs coming back but is also concerned as more LNG and exports are on the horizon, that in turn will drive up natural gas pricing and coal will still be in demand as the main baseload, low cost fuel source for some time to come.

 

For more details:

http://www.powermag.com/coal-magnate-tells-trump-to-lower-his-expectations/?printmode=1

 

 

Poll Results: Ohio Voters Against Re-regulation to Monopoly Utilities

At this point it is old news, that the largest electric utilities in Ohio have been in discussions regarding “restructuring” competitive markets within the state. Despite their efforts to change the current seven-year construct, Ohio voters may be the biggest political snag in their way.
Based on a poll conducted in January and by Fallon Research and Communications, and first reported by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio voters are very much in opposition of a return to a regulated market construct that would allow monopoly utilities. The telephone survey was conducted in January polled a panel of 800 Ohio voters about key supporting issues. The results favoring energy choice and objection to monopoly utilities were consistent across party affiliation, gender, age, and location.

Results from Fallon Research’s Poll & The Plain Dealer’s Report:
More than 91 percent would oppose any law change allowing FirstEnergy or Columbus-based AEP to build new power plants and raise monthly rates to pay for them. AEP wants to do exactly that, build wind and solar farms and maybe new gas turbine plants while selling off or closing its old coal units.
Nearly 79 percent would oppose any legislation that did away with a customer’s choice to shop for power suppliers. Dozens of independent suppliers now compete for customers through a state-maintained “Energy Choice” website. A return to old-style regulation could end that kind of competition, say independent power companies, forcing customers to return to their traditional electric utilities for electricity as well as delivery.
Nearly 62 percent said they would oppose paying extra every month to support older power plants that cannot compete well against modern gas turbine plants. FirstEnergy has persuaded state regulators to do just that — though the latest subsidy does not mention its power plants. Federal regulators objected to earlier, more expensive proposals that spelled out exactly how the extra fees — amounting to an extra monthly consumer bill every year — would be spent.
Nearly 60 percent of voters would object to the creation of special subsidies for one fuel source — in this case FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants, which are expensive to operate and do not always compete well against gas turbine plants. The idea has been adopted in New York and Illinois, but has been challenged as anti-competitive. FirstEnergy is considering asking for such a subsidy but has not made a final decision.
AARP and the Alliance for Energy Choice, a group representing independent power producers funded the statewide poll. The Alliance spokesperson, and former chairman of the PUCO, Todd Snitchler spoke on the results of the poll commenting that, “The results of the poll clearly demonstrate that talk about a need for re-regulation or changes to Ohio’s energy landscape, is pointed in the wrong direction.

Fallon Research and Communications. (2017). Ohio Voters on Energy Choice 2017. The Cleveland Plain Dealer [Distributor]. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/02/ohio_voters_want_energy_choice.html.

 

Natural Gas Producers’ Bankruptcies and its Impact on Gas Production

Newsletter Story header-NGProducerBankruptcies-07.11

As of May 16th – 77 natural gas and oil producers in North America have filed for bankruptcy since 2015, and 35 of those have done so since the start of 2016…

A recent study conducted by PointLogic Energy explored how much production is represented by these 77 companies, where they are located and the overall impact it is having.

The analysis concluded that 4.4 billion cubic feet per day of gas production and 307,000 barrels per day is represented by the bankruptcy companies.  The production of these companies represents 5.4% and 3.6% of the lower-48 states’ gas and oil production respectively.

 

Some major takeaways from the review:

  • The volume of gas attributed to the companies in bankruptcy is much larger than the corresponding volumes of oil.
    • For Example: In Texas 7.5% of natural gas production is bankrupt while only 2.8% of oil production is represented.
  • There are regional winners and losers: Of the major producing states, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Louisiana bear the brunt of bankruptcy related volumes. The Northeast and Gulf of Mexico appears largely unscathed.

The overall takeaway when reviewing the companies that have filed for bankruptcy is that they are highly weighted to natural gas, rather than oil products.

So what does it mean going forward? If oil prices recover and producers increase drilling we will likely see an increase in associated gas production, regardless of what natural gas prices are doing. Rising gas production from the associated oil production will inflict even more troubles for the bankrupt market segment with storage constraint worries. The remaining summer looks to be a difficult price environment for natural gas producers, especially in the Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Louisiana regions.

 

Is Tesla becoming the “Big-Box Store” of Energy?

Newsletter Story header-Tesla-07.11

If you shop at a big-box or wholesale store, you know you can get just about anything you could ever need, and things you think you need, (or want, or think you might need) but really don’t.  Tesla’s latest news is their bid for Solar City, the nation’s largest residential solar company.  Elon Musk, as reported, is the Chairman and largest single shareholder in both entities, and the “deal” ($2.5B) still has to be approved by the SEC.

 

In the big scope of things, here’s how it would break down:

  1. Sun shines (power transformed) by your “Tesla” solar panels installed by “Solar City”
  2. Electricity powering your home also is stored in your “Tesla” Powerwall battery system (Giga-factory in Nevada)
  3. Your Powerwall is charging up your “Tesla” car in the garage (batteries included) manufactured by “Tesla”
  4. When you are bored, take a trip on “Tesla” Space X (rocket ship) to Mars (batteries included)

 

No Utility System needed….click the links below for more details:


http://www.energymanagertoday.com/125437-0125437/

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/5eff8a7c05024bcd85a3d6843432d53e/apparent-conflicts-interest-may-dog-tesla-solarcity-deal

http://www.energymanagertoday.com/drama-aside-tesla-acquisition-of-solarcity-makes-sense-0125228/