A fixed price in energy is given for either a pre-determined amount of energy or is given for an “all you consume”. You can think of it as either paying for an entire dinner or returning again to the buffet tables.
In the instance of a fixed price with a closed or set amount, the amount of energy used that exceeds a customer’s historical usage is charged at market price there the market price must be defined in the agreement.
Under a fixed price for open quantity agreement, all usage should be charged at the same rate. If there are circumstances beyond what is considered normal, other costs can be passed through; those circumstances must be defined in the agreement. Typically an examination of these terms doesn’t take place until the circumstances arise.
A winter vortex is anything but normal conditions.
Niagara Falls has frozen due to the 2014 Winter Vortex
The costs for delivering energy this winter has far exceeded any reasonable planning. Hence utilities and marketers are looking to pass through weather-related costs to the customers. As the article mentions, COMED, along with every utility, will be increasing costs associated with this winter.
Realgy knows our costs and settles them monthly. This prevents the cost recovery process or delay that utilities go through.
Realgy’s offers fixed prices for both open (all-you-can-eat) and closed (set amount) quantities. For this winter, our PriceWatchTM was offered as open quantity. Realgy typically offers seasonal fixed rates or for one year periods. This avoids having to have “re-openers” or uncertainty for both ourselves and the customer that are part of multi-year contracts.
Check out the whole Crain’s Chicago Business article “Frigid temps spur suburban power supplier to hike prices”
REALGY couldn’t agree more with the need to investigate this winter market reaction. As highlighted in the various articles posted on the Realgy blog, the cost borne by utilities, marketers and our customer’s sky rocketed.
This winter weather required every energy marketer and utility to purchase the energy being used by our customer’s (above their planned usage) at the going market price; there is no planning or negotiations during such periods.
Therefore, any manipulation by traders or owners/operators of power plants or pipelines that took advantage of this weather to inflate the market price needs to be investigated.
Realgy will look to send a letter in support of FERC investigating the market response and all/any irregularities. For instances, Feb 2014 pricing is above Jan 2014 pricing!
Realgy is continuing to work hard, as the weather vortex is back (as of Feb 26th 2014) to reduce the impact of this winter weather on our customers.
Check out the full Citizens Utility Board article “As Electric/Gas Bills Skyrocket, CUB and Consumer Advocates In 10 States Request FERC Review Of January Price Spikes”
So January’s 2014 price impacts are beginning to be tallied by utilities and as expected, they are “significant”. The utilities faced the same circumstances as the energy marketer; the coldest weather in 20 years put unexpected demand pressure on natural gas and electricity pricing. The short-term impact caused significant costs to utilities, energy marketers, and every utility customer.
The following article specifies the issues that utilities must balance in order to recover costs when they have a customer choice program. Each utility must balance the fact they under-collected during a past period, while at the same time they know that raising rates will offer more incentive for customers to switch to energy marketers that offer lower rates or alternative services.
Seems like a catch 22 but is it? The question is not whether the utility will recover its cost (and the interest on carrying it), but rather who should pay it. The utility rightfully recognizes that customers are price sensitive and will look for alternatives when prices rise. When customers see the rate increase they may choose an energy marketer’s offer that has already collected those costs. Therefore, the utility will collect their uncollected costs from those fewer customers who remain with the utility. Rest assured, eventually they will recover these costs.
Realgy has the capability to know our costs for energy at the end of each month. This lets us effectively mitigate the expenses as they are incurring and recover only the costs for operational-flow orders, congestion, and settlement costs (costs imposed by utility practices) immediately. While this might be a rate shock for everyone, it eliminates any future “uncollected” costs that must eventually be recovered.
Realgy is working hard to continue to reduce the impacts of this cold weather affecting our customer energy costs. Winter won’t be over until the Blue Birds are singing!
Check out the Energy Choice Matters article: “SHOCK: Pennsylvania Utility Seeks Nonbypassable Charge to Recover Excessive Default Service Costs from January (Change from Quarterly to Annual Reconciliation Backfires)”
The CNBC article “Natural Gas could rise to $8: Energy expert” is an interview with a natural gas trader. One noteworthy facet of traders’ work is that they speculate on the changing cost of natural gas so as to profit from a price increase or decrease.
This is EXACTLY opposite from what Realgy does.
Realgy tries to buy natural gas so as to deliver the lowest price to our customers. The greatest variable in doing this is the changing volume of natural gas used by our customers.
Consumption or demand for natural gas; this is an instance where the trader and the energy marketer are both dependent on the weather (along with storage). Weather is the greatest driver in how much natural gas will be used; storage allows for a buffer in allowing the gas in storage to be readily available for use.
In the CNBC article, the discussion about the weather affecting consumption (withdrawals from storage equate to higher demand) is accurate. However, the coldest winter in 20 years would create disruption in any market place. So gas prices should rise when demand soars; the law of supply and demand dictates they do.
So the question is, by how much? Should they rise 27% in a day, followed by 15%, etc.? The answer is…probably not. This is when traders’ speculation drives pricing for which ALL users pay.
Realgy works with traders but does not speculate on price changes for natural gas or electricity.
Check out the CNBC article: “Natural Gas could rise to $8: Energy expert”
Written by Michael Vrtis, President of Realgy Energy Services in response to the Fiscal Times article “Hedge funds bet on US gas shortage as cold boosts demand”
Remember the financial crisis (is it over?)? Then this article should strike a familiar note. Hedge funds influencing the commodities market.
Inarguably the cost of natural gas has skyrocketed (some say far in advance of demand). As hedge funds buy NYMEX futures those purchases increase the prices as they create additional demand. This additional demand does nothing more than allow the hedge funds to place a bet on the NYMEX and their bet is then passed along to every user of natural gas. Accordingly, their speculation inflates the price of the NYMEX contract prices and therefore passes along these costs to ALL end-users (we call them customers) whose contract is tied to the NYMEX.
Part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform was to limit the influence of hedge fund speculating in the market.
Realgy cannot influence the NYMEX. However, the use of our proprietary ManagedPriceTM agreement minimizes reliance upon it. The ManagedPriceTM allows our energy buyers to use NYMEX, along with fixed price and INDEX purchases. The result is to minimize the impact of any single natural gas price and allow for consistent pricing that beats the utility costs. The history of the ManagedPriceTM program has shown it’s effective at mitigating short-term price spikes when used in conjunction with our Storage program and PriceWatchTM Service.
Check out the article in Fiscal Times: “Hedge funds bet on US gas shortage as cold boosts demand”
The Ivanpah solar power plant in the Mojave Desert officially opened Thursday February 13, 2014 after almost four years of construction, and is the first electric generator of its kind.
A field of mirrors at the Ivanpah power plant in California. Jim Wilson/The New York Times
“…focuses sunlight from 350,000 mirrors onto 2,200-ton boilers 339 feet in the air to make steam that drives turbines to produce electricity”
To imagine what this is, put yourself at the beach, you are 6 feet tall (or you’re standing on a beach chair), and you look as far as you can to the horizon; that should be about 4 miles. From this spot on the beach, 350,000 mirrors are spread over a distance farther than you can see (5 miles in all directions) and all those mirrors direct the sun’s rays onto the surface of a boiler that gets hot enough to produce steam which is used to drive a turbine to produce electricity.
That is cool!
It will take bold and imaginative ideas and, while some ideas may prove to be impractical, we will find ways to continue to create energy for the world’s consumers that can be sustained (without damaging the earth for the next 100 years).
Realgy has invested in photovoltaic (PV) solar generation where the sun light is converted into electricity within the solar panel.
Check out the NY Times article: “A Huge Solar Plant Opens, Facing Doubts About Its Future”
Natural Gas prices have made a jump above $6.00 Dth or $0.60 / therm in the wholesale market; this is a 30% increase in the last couple days!
This increase looks speculative by traders but if it holds till February 26th it will set a five year high for the NYMEX first-of-month pricing and will keep bills high
The Bloomberg News article “Natural Gas Gains With Coffee as Commodities Jump; S&P 500 Rises” discusses the impact of natural gas and other commodities from the traders perspective.
To keep track of the wholesale prices please enroll with Realgy’s NYMEX reports. It will send you NYMEX end-of-day reports daily.
Realgy Online Reports
Realgy is working to ensure our pricing stays as low as possible. Given we are all dealing with the coldest winter in 20 years and the highest energy prices in over 5 years.