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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.

Nexus Pipeline Development Facing “Batty” Road Blocks

The Nexus pipeline project has run into countless hurdles and road blocks ever since its initial proposal last year. We first reported on the Nexus project back in March of 2016. The intent of the project is to support the growing demand for clean-burning natural gas, by building additional pipeline infrastructure in Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario (Canada). Following completion, the pipeline system is expected to move 1.5 Bcf/d (billion cubic feet a per day) of natural gas from southeastern Ohio, eventually ending in southern Ontario.

As of last March, 13 connection agreements were made with various Ohio markets affected by the proposed route. Since then, the project has faced turbulence from activist groups and countless townships. Just in the last couple of weeks, objection efforts have made news on several occasions. Just a few of these examples are below:

• The city of Green, Ohio has hired law firm, Frost Brown Todd to aid in the city’s fight to reroute the pipeline away from the city. City officials believe the pipeline will have a $120 million impact on the city.
• Bowling Green city Council voted months ago to deny an easement offer to build part of the pipeline through the city, and now has protesters on the proposed ground attempting to further stall its construction. UC4POWER a local activist group and BGSU faculty believe the pipeline could contaminate local water supply.
• One of the most peculiar reports comes from Medina County, where “the coalition to reroute Nexus” cites bats as an argument against pipeline construction. This part of the state is home to northern long-eared bats, a threatened species. As a threatened species, their habitat is supposed to be protected during the bats’ nesting season, but the coalition is fearful that Nexus could be granted an exception.

In attempt to avoid more conflict, Nexus pipeline partners asked FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to expedite the decision to grant permission by February 3rd, to build the pipeline, before one of the FERC commissioners steps down. FERC was inactive in response. The Nexus project isn’t dead yet, but at the moment, the future does appear uncertain.


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.


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