by Robyn Frank
In December, my colleague Arthur Debowski blogged about how he helped the RiverBay Corporation, a Great Eastern Energy client managing Co-Op City in the Bronx, take advantage of Great Eastern Energy’s expertise to come up with a tailored cost-saving and risk-lowering energy management plan.1 And I blogged in November about the different services that Great Eastern Energy offers to small businesses as an Energy Service Company (ESCO), and the rights and choices customers now have for their energy consumption.2 Our deregulated energy market ushered in these possibilities.
And yet, the story of deregulation, despite all its benefits, is one that many customers don’t know. So I’d like to tell you about it in a few blog posts: how deregulation came about, and why it has been a long slog to help customers understand their choices.
The truth is that most businesses in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are unaware that they have a choice between their utility company and an Energy Service Provider, such as Great Eastern Energy. Prior to deregulation, in fact, there was no choice: Both electricity and natural gas were provided by local utilities or regional monopolies that controlled both the power generation and distribution channels for delivery. Over the last several decades, however, a number of states voted to change these regulations in order to create an atmosphere of competition among energy providers and drive down prices for businesses. In New York, deregulation went into effect in 1996; in Massachusetts, in 1998; and in New Jersey, in 1999. Thanks to deregulation, businesses now have a choice and energy providers have the ability to purchase energy (electricity and/or natural gas) on the open market (wholesale). Further, choosing an energy provider as a supplier is simple because the utility company will continue to deliver the energy, read the meter and maintain all service obligations in the case of failure or an emergency. This allows Great Eastern Energy and others to offer alternatives regarding pricing and other products that can potentially translate into savings for the business consumer.
So what’s the catch? There isn’t any! Great Eastern Energy can’t always guarantee fuel price savings because of the unpredictability of electricity and natural gas markets (nobody can!), but we can ensure choice in pricing plans and attentive, knowledgeable service to save customers time and money managing their energy needs. It just takes a little time and effort to sign up, like changing your cable operator or cell phone carrier, except easier: There are no wires or boxes to install. Simply, Great Eastern Energy as an ESCO is fighting the inertia of all the customers who stick with their utility because they haven’t had the time, awareness, knowledge or inclination to change.