Tag Archives: business

It’s Good to Have Options

The following is a guest article written by Brad Martin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Mass Market Sales & Services of Genie Energy:

I never really stopped to consider the vast amount of options available for some of the most mundane items we need. Standing in Target recently, I contemplated the purchase of a toothbrush for far too long as I weighed the brands, style, color, bristle stiffness and other options available. I mean, there must have been no fewer than thirty different choices. Shaking her head, a woman next to me who was equally perplexed said, “I’m just going to pick the cheapest one… they all end up in the same place eventually…”

I took her advice.

It’s a different story altogether, as many business owners and managers are struggling with a similar problem when it comes to their energy supply. Aside from the multitude of Retail Energy Provider companies out there offering procurement services versus the local utility company, there are a host of options available that should be carefully weighed, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some options include, “block”, “heat rate”, “nodal” and “variable” rate programs. However, in this article, I’d like to review two of the more commonly presented options, “fixed” and “index”, to address management of commercial electricity costs.

Choices… choices…

 A pure fixed rate plan is as it sounds. Your business locks in a fixed price per kilowatt hour (kWh) for some predetermined length of time. A term could be any length of time that provides you the best price and other desired options, taking into account your consumption amount and patterns, load factor, capacity and transmission charges, seasonality and a variety of other factors. (Please see http://www.businessdistrict.com/timing-is-everything/ “Timing is Everything”, a previous piece that explains the importance of term and timing of energy supply agreements). A fixed rate plan can be a good option for a company seeking budget certainty or protection from market volatility.

An index plan gives a business the opportunity to purchase at the varying prevailing market prices for electricity. This can be for as specific a period as each given hour in a day, corresponding to a published market index while fixing the adder to the wholesale energy component. An index plan is a more aggressive product, and would be a fine fit for a company looking for the flexibility to shop around, or for a position that allows them to take advantage of wholesale market price drops. A company may “float” on an index price, constantly watching the forward market for the right opportunity to lock in. While the index might be relatively cheaper to the fixed rate, the index can rise precipitously during peak demand periods in the very cold winter and/or very hot and humid summer periods.

Advantages for some may mean disadvantages for others.

With a fixed rate plan, your price certainty comes with a factor of some variable load cost, which reflects the variable risk the energy provider must take on in its hedge, by offering a fixed price over a period of time. The fully unitized fixed rate plan can also mitigate the risk of the utility’s peak-demand charges on the supply side of the bill as they would no longer apply. Most small/medium businesses will seek the Fixed Price option for budget certainty and the potential for year-over-year savings versus local utility supply pricing.

With an index plan, it’s the customer that absorbs most or all of the risk, and no variable load cost is associated, since pricing is in ‘real-time’. A large commercial or industrial company (i.e. manufacturers) may seek an index price option (or hybrid, also referred to as a ‘block’ plan, with only a percentage of their load on an index plan), where consumption is large enough to make it worthwhile to change consumption patterns based on anticipated hourly prices. They may opt for example, to use more electricity during off-peak hours (overnight).

While it may be good to have options…

…It’s best to take advantage of the expertise of an energy broker or supplier that can provide you with the analysis and recommendations suited to your business and specific usage patterns. No one option may be right for another business owner, and while there is the potential to realize reductions in your energy overhead, there is no reason to go it alone!

Own or manage a business that uses energy or know someone who could benefit? Message me to get connected with an energy expert who will provide a complimentary commercial energy analysis with no obligation.

Brad Martin is Senior Vice President, Marketing, Mass Market Sales & Services of Genie Energy

About Genie Energy Ltd.:

Genie Energy Ltd. (NYSE: GNE, GNEPRA), through its Genie Retail Energy (GRE) division, is a leading independent operator of retail energy providers and commercial brokerage services.  GRE’s providers supply electricity and natural gas to residential, small business and commercial customers in deregulated markets in the United States and the United Kingdom.  For more information, visit http://www.genie.com/.

 

Timing Is Everything

The following is a guest article written by Brad Martin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Mass Market Sales & Services of Genie Energy:

Small, medium and large business owners and managers can benefit from shopping around for commodities like electricity and natural gas. However, what many fail to consider, is that simply comparing today’s available rate to the utility’s current price to compare, may not be enough of an advantage to look for. Switching away from the utility to a supplier offers a host of rate structure options and terms, affording more control over your energy experience.

Many factors influence cost. Among the variables are some obvious items such as the commodity, geography, utility, status of natural gas reserves, and weather. Other not so obvious factors to the layman are transmission, capacity tags, and load factors. However, contract start date and term length are also critical and should not to be overlooked.

Consider this – Let’s say your business is evaluating a twelve versus eighteen month termed agreement for electricity, with the twelve month term set to end next April. Taking all the current market conditions into consideration, a twelve month rate lock for electricity may be more favorable versus an eighteen month term. Why? The eighteen month term would straddle two summer seasons, and because your total electricity consumption and spend often increases in the summer months (June through August), this could impact the hedge for your supply. On the contrary, if you are looking at an eighteen month natural gas contract beginning in November/December with it ending in the spring – the benefit could be favorable, with the hedge covering only one typically higher consumption winter heating season.

As they say, “…timing is everything…”

While a longer term “set it and forget it strategy” might appeal to some seeking budget certainty and those looking avoid market volatility by flattening out commodity market highs and lows, it should be noted that timing of contract end dates are important to consider. The spring and fall months are considered “shoulder seasons” due to their more mild temperatures. Contracts ending during the shoulder season may provide opportunities to lock in a better rate in the renewal term, since mild temperatures often mean a factor of less demand and better wholesale costs.

No matter how large or small your business, it’s important to weigh the benefits of securing your electricity and natural gas supply from a source other than your local utility company. It can be very much worth it to take a few minutes to shop around. Compare rates, plan structures, terms, and more.

Of course these examples illustrate just a few of the more straightforward scenarios. Your sweet spot could be a ‘typical’ 12/18/24/36 month plan, or it could be a more tailored fixed, index, block and index (Hybrid) or even variable with cap price plan. Some programs may even lead to a reduction in or elimination of peak demand charges.

But until you shop, you may never know.

Keep in mind, while no one can ever predict the future with certainty, it is important to work with a proven broker or supplier that will review your specific historical usage patterns, and provide options based on a true consumption profile.

Own or manage a business that uses energy or know someone who could benefit? Message me to get connected with an energy expert who will provide a complimentary commercial energy analysis with no obligation.

Saudi Prince in US to Discuss Politics and Business

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud at the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has arrived in the United States to conduct a tour to strengthen not only business ties but also political ties with the US.

This is the Crown Prince’s second visit to the US. It begins with a stop at the White House for a meeting with US President Donald Trump. Trump has been working since his inauguration to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.“

Saudi Arabia was the first foreign country Trump visited after taking office, traveling to the kingdom in May and signing memorandums and agreements for defense spending that totaled about $110 billion,” according to Bloomberg.

The US and Saudi Arabia have been allies for 75 years, according to the Brookings Institute. During that time, they have worked “closely together” and have also at times been “estranged,” said Brookings.

Forbes said that the two leaders will most likely be discussing a reinstatement of sanctions against Iran; Saudi’s protracted war in Yemen; and the kingdom’s wish to buy at least one additional nuclear power plant and what role the US government will play in allowing a company like GE to construct it.“

Other issues that may come up would include the disagreement between Qatar on one hand and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt on the other as well as the U.S. decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” said Forbes.

Bloomberg also said that the Crown Prince will be meeting top executives to discuss business deals. He is on schedule to meet the heads of Apple Inc., Google, and:

• Uber
• Executives from the film industry
• Oil Services Companies
• Amazon
• GE
• NYSE

The IDT Energy Network

IDT Energy recently started the IDT Energy Network, empowering customers to benefit from the deregulation of energy supply in a new way. Their Partners can transform their energy bill from a liability into an asset by referring people in their social network to IDT Energy. When they do, they get paid!

With about 400,000 active customers, IDT Energy is one of the leading energy suppliers in the Northeast. However, with over 29 million homes and small businesses in the markets they serve, everyone can get involved. Company Chairman Howard Jonas understands what it means to work hard and to become an entrepreneur, with multiple companies now publicly-traded on the stock market. His goal is to create a movement that empowers people to build their own wealth on their own time, and gives them the opportunity to empower others to do the same.

Thanks to energy deregulation throughout the United States, more and more people have the chance to shop for and choose their energy supplier. Now, the IDT Energy Network takes customer benefits to a whole new level, where customers can get started by enrolling their own meters in the program, and getting paid for doing so. Partners earn more by encouraging others in their social circles to join the program too. By helping friends and neighbors to become customers and to switch their home or business electricity and natural gas to IDT Energy, IDT Energy Network partners grow their own energy supply business. They will continue to earn money from each customer they enroll and from Partners who enroll and sign-up their own meters as well.

Through the IDT Energy Network, IDT Energy is sharing a piece of the growing pie while helping people to get the best out of the electricity and natural gas choices that they make. It’s a win-win situation for so many who may be looking to make extra spending cash in their spare-time, part-time, or even full time.

Employment Opportunities: Moving from Government to Private Sector

When looking for employment opportunities, one question often posed is whether to seek a position in the government or private sector.  The decision ultimately depends on many variants as well as demographics and priorities.

It is a long, thought-out decision for many.  So much so that an entire discussion took place on Quora – vis-à-vis the Indian community – on this subject.  This indicated that some people find it very difficult to make the switch.

Despite these difficulties, many make this switch quite successfully.  For example, consider Sheryl Corrigan, who in 2006 worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as Commissioner, advising the governor and assisting the strategic direction for the state on environmental matters.  Today, Sheryl is Senior Vice President of Environmental, Health and Safety at Koch Industries.

How do Ms. Corrigan and others accomplish this difficult feat?  In 2012, Elizabeth Bacchus wrote an article in The Guardian entitled ‘How to successfully move from the public to the private sector.’  Given that at that time in the UK, it was predicted that a staggering 500,000 jobs in the public sector would be cut within 3 years of the article’s writing, people were looking for tips on how to make the switch.

The article outlined seven main areas on which people should focus for making the switch.  These were:

  1. Taking a focused and targeted approach
  2. Removing public sector terminology
  3. When speaking to recruiters, seeing if they are adept at helping with this particular transition
  4. Using social media
  5. Tailoring a resume to focus on private sector positions
  6. Understanding that customers are different from service users
  7. Looking for a job that isn’t formally advertised

In an article written last year on Renovo.uk.com, it was determined that “the gulf between public and private sector mindsets appears to be narrowing.”  Still though, what remains is “a significant difference between the short term mind-set of the majority of profit seeking companies and the longer-term approach taken in the public sector.”

Further, as Dan Ovsey noted in an article in The Financial Post a couple of years ago, “While no hard data exists in Canada to show the success or failure rate of government workers transitioning to private-sector roles, international research shows there can be some harsh perceptions of public sector workers among private sector hiring managers.”

Thankfully for those in this position, things might be changing for the better overall, and people’s experiences differ when moving from government/public to the private sector for work.  But it will take time to completely remove the stigma of how private sector employers view those who have been working in the public sector for most of their careers.