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COMED and Ameren Raise Rates

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by rgadmin

Ameren and COMED have raised their delivery service costs. The following increases will take effect in January 2015:

Ameren up 17.4%

COMED up 11%

MidAmerican announced last month an increase of nearly 11%.

Realgy Energy is a wholesale energy provider that allows you to purchase your energy without the utility markup. The result; we save our customers money.

Additional information on our service is available at;

For COMED: http://realgyenergyservices.com/service-plans-53/

For Ameren: http://realgyenergyservices.com/service-plans-57/

For MidAmerican: http://realgyenergyservices.com/service-plans-58/

We serve residential and commercial customers.

The following is a link to the news announcement

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/12/12/3537665/ameren-comed-get-ok-to-raise-rates.html

 


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How to Get a Good Deal from an Energy Marketer

Posted on: December 15th, 2014 by rgadmin

I am often asked how to get a “good deal” in choosing an energy supplier?

In the past, my answer typically began with an explanation of how “deregulation” or “customer choice” developed (which gets me glassy-eyed looks), which was followed by general advice such as: determine the quality of supplier; review the terms and conditions and then the pricing.

However, as we are having renewals with our customers reoccurring for the 4th, 5th and 6th time, I think what these customers have told me is more relevant….

In addition, during our 12+ years we seen many, many processes from consultants, aggregators or in request for proposals, I have consolidated these experiences into what I believe is a list of best practices;

1. Assemble a copy of all your bills (either electric or gas) including the following (this will help you eliminate or question what a marketer sends you in step 2).

a. Identify the energy cost on the bill(s).
b. Identify the delivery cost on the bill(s).
c. Add up the total energy used (either kwh for electric or Therms for natural gas) for 1-12 months, pairing each month with the energy cost (the delivery cost will not change).

2. Contact marketers and ask them for a proposal for service.

a. A list is available at: http://realgyenergyservices.com/customer-services/web-links/ under each utility.
b. Eliminate the ones who do not reply.
c. For ones who reply, ask for a comparison for at least the last 12 months of how their proposal price compared to the utility cost. Again, eliminate those who do not respond.
d. Look at how the marketer’s pricing and the utility pricing are presented.
IN MANY CASES marketers may be above a utility in some months; they should be able to explain why.
AVOID those that are above the utility for 12 months in a row.
AVOID those marketers whose comparison does not accurately show the utility cost.

3. With the marketers who responded and sent you their pricing comparison, ask for their terms and conditions (contract or Agreement). Read their agreements paying special attention to the following;

a. Pricing; is it defined, how long does it last, and what happens when it ends?
b. Quantity; if you’re buying a fixed price make sure it says how much gas you’re buying at the fixed price and what happens if you use more or less than that amount. If you’re buying a variable rate, it should state it’s for all your usage or “open” quality.
c. Renewal; when do you have to give notice to terminate, what happens if you don’t?
d. Additional Services: is storage included, what about changing plans (from variable to fixed), taxes, service fee, online access, answered customer service (vs. automated attendants), etc. Some additional service is worth the price, some are not.

While not an official step, there are good reasons to eliminate a marketer from consideration (in other words, absolutely avoid), such reasons include;

 a. No trade references or BBB accreditation.
b. An initial rate (fixed or variable) that lasts only 1-6 months and renews which is followed by a different (perhaps) vaguely defined price. These are known as “teaser” rates and will inevitably cost you more than the utility.
c. Language that doesn’t make sense is not clear in its intent or clearly favors the marketer.
d. A renewal date scheduled during the winter or summer. Make sure you can terminate your agreement for natural gas or electricity in April or May. This will give you the best period to switch or renew during a “low” energy usage period when pricing is more stable and you will not be under pressure to continue the agreement.


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Natural gas prices have changed 25% in 4 weeks!

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by rgadmin

Does the words “Polar Vortex” strike fear into you?

Polar Vortex 2014

If so, this CNBC article, Wild ride for natural gas signals volatile winter ahead, describes record production of natural gas and the forecast of colder weather similar to last winter.

So, the winter forecast is cold and there is abundant natural gas…..the question is at what price.

To avoid the uncertainty of winter gas prices Realgy offers:

Storage service’ “Winter gas at Summer prices” and PriceWatchTM (fixed price)

Please contact our Customer Service department for additional information at 877-300-6747 x1000

 

Read the whole CNBC article “Wild ride for natural gas signals volatile winter ahead


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Tell Ameren to open up their natural gas service to Customer Choice

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by rgadmin

So Ameren wants you to believe that you are paying a “low” “stable” price for your natural gas. Well, if you compare their cost to the entire United States, they may have a point.

However, if you compare to your neighbor or local supplier you are paying more. That is; if your neighbor or business is with Realgy Energy Services.

Ameren is trying to retain its regulated monopoly position in natural gas by putting out these press releases saying; “we are AVERAGE!”.

So compare what happened in Illinois when electricity was opened to customer choice: the State of Illinois has saved $37 billion with Energy Choice; that’s compared to what you would have paid by staying with the utility (like Ameren, COMED, Peoples, etc).

Specifically Realgy Energy Services customers over the last 36 months have saved over 14.7% compared to Ameren; that is over $889.00.

 

 

Let them know you want the same choice for natural gas as you have for electricity. ICC contact info: Torsten Clausen, Director tclausen@icc.illinois.gov

So as Ameren promotes being average in the USA, you can look to be better and tell Ameren to open up their natural gas service to Customer Choice.

happy_halloween_haunted_orange

 

Read the full Ameren Media Release, “Ameren Illinois Customers will see natural gas prices lower than national average for a second year


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US predicts lower heating bills this winter

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by rgadmin

US as a whole may have lower heating bills, however, in the article details the Midwest; Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are forecasted to have a colder than average winter.

 

frosty is coming to town

Frosty is coming to Town!

 

Find the full abc news article, “US Predicts Lower Heating Bills This Winter

 

 


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Duke Energy proposes plan to modernize electric grid

Posted on: September 8th, 2014 by rgadmin

Duke Energy’s proposal for maintaining/updating their electric grid in their franchise service area of Indiana is a great example of a regulated utility’s typically large improvement process.

First step; maintain the current system without improvement for as long as practical. This is usually cost effective in keeping rates low but comes with the cost of more frequent outages and high system maintenance costs.

Second step; offer to upgrade an outdated (in this case a century old) technology. After nearly 100 years without significant changes, you would think there would be benefits in replacing old technology. The highlighted benefits would be expected; however, note the absence of any measurable benefits.

Third step; get paid. Regardless of what benefits actually occur, Duke will be guaranteed 80% recovery of their costs (not estimates, but what they actually spend). The remaining 20% will be included in a new filing that is subject to regulatory review. The regulators could disallow recovery of this 20% if they found Duke did not spend the money prudently or that the intended benefits did not materialize.

Bottom-line, this will most likely be approved. The rates will increase and service should be improved. Correlating cost vs. benefits is always a challenge.

Indiana is an outlier in the area, as they do not have customer choice for their electric service as neighboring states do. One would hope that with consideration of a modern electric grid, a modern energy choice program would precede it. And, with a modem energy choice program, there is no rate increase.

Realgy offers electric choice in Illinois where the average savings is over 8%.

 

Read the full Intelligent Utility article “Duke Energy Indiana proposes plan to modernize its statewide electric grid.”


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Exelon, politics and Illinois’ low-carbon future

Posted on: August 21st, 2014 by rgadmin

This article offers excellent insight into how policy (politics) influences energy and energy costs.

Government is the only entity that can impose priorities on energy. That is, without environmental laws, energy production would be governed by cost and perhaps by convenience.

So when the Government (state or federal) imposes or doesn’t impose a tax or subsidizes an energy utility, it’s important.

Illinois has a history of supporting coal with tax advantages which historically has provided jobs and low energy costs; however, both have declined and could decline further due to carbon emissions and nuclear power.

Illinois has halted its support of renewable energy (created from wind, solar or water) with tax advantages. When they have supported renewables, it has favored larger utility scale renewables over smaller installations.

This article shows how two large corporations are presenting their case for economic assistance from the State of Illinois. Which one do you think deserves assistance?

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that Realgy has built and operates four solar photovoltaic power plants in Illinois. Realgy received State and Federal tax subsidiaries and would not have done so without them.

Solar array on the main warehouse of Lake Line Deliveries Evanston, IL

Read the full Renewablesbiz article, “Exelon, politics and Illinois’ low-carbon future


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Citizens Energy Group being investigated for Energy Bill practices

Posted on: June 27th, 2014 by rgadmin

Citizens Energy Group in seeking to simplify service for their customers seems to have aggravated an already problematic issue—billing. After aggregating the gas, water, and wastewater in their monthly bill, the number of complaints and the complications in resolving those complaints has sky-rocketed.

Gas-bill

How would you react if 20% of your customers hung up because of long wait times when they called in to resolve a billing issue?

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has opened an investigation into Citizens Energy billing practices. If you have experienced billing issues, please contact the IURC (information provided below) to have it addressed.

Realgy Energy is a registered energy marketer in the Citizens Energy Select program. Through this program, Realgy offers commercial and industrial customers direct wholesale prices without any utility cost added; the result has been savings. To find out how much you can save through Citizens Energy Select, please call or visit; Service Plans for Citizens Gas

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Contact Info
Reference: Docket #44462; Citizens Energy billing inquiry

IURC Investigation

IURC docket #44462

Read the full Fox 59 article, “Regulators to investigate Citizens Energy’s management, billing practices


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MidAmerican Energy seeks rate increase in Illinois

Posted on: June 26th, 2014 by rgadmin

Twenty-two years without a raise—think about it. That would be very hard. However, utilities do not operate at a fixed cost; they operate as a regulated monopoly (like the game) and receive a fixed rate of return. That is, utilities get to spend what is necessary to provide service and seek approval for those costs. Utilities like MidAmerican earn a regulated rate of return (in business that’s called margin) on everything they spend (subject to approval).

So, although MidAmerican-Illinois (MEC) has not increased energy costs during this time, they have spent $289 million on improvements to the electric grid and their generators. If this were all spent as required to provide service, then MEC which earns about 9% rate of return, would earn about $26 million a year in profit.

So after 22 years, an increase of 21% for residential and 13% for business might not seem like a lot, but remember MEC has no competition and earns profit on spending money to provide service.

Electricity-rates-increase

Can you avoid the rate increase? The short answer is yes.

Illinois customers of MidAmerican Energy can now participate in the Illinois Electric Choice Program. The idea is simple; provide customers the right to buy their electricity directly from suppliers without any additional cost from the local utility. The result has been savings for Illinois consumers—an estimated $37 billion dollars due to electric competition.

Realgy Energy Service is the first energy marketer registered with MidAmerican Energy-Illinois enrolling customers in the Illinois Electric Choice Program. Additional information is available at Service Plans for MidAmerican.


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Peoples Gas parent to be acquired in $9.1 billion deal

Posted on: June 24th, 2014 by rgadmin

Trending: Utilities are consolidating and getting bigger.

Peoples and North Shore, already part of a utility holding company headquartered in Chicago, are being bought by a Wisconsin-based utility holding company.

NICOR is owned by a utility holding company with its headquarters in Atlanta.

The acquisition of Peoples is following a trend of consolidation of regional utilities. The leading argument for consolidation is that redundant “overhead” costs can be consolidated. What consolidation usually means is that the local utility is no longer local. Remember that Peoples, NICOR, and ComEd are not competitive companies eking out an unknown profit. They have a monopoly (much like the game!) where they get to recover their set profit margin on expenses incurred in providing their essential service. That is to say, the more they spend on providing their service, the more profit they make which is why regulators approve their costs.

monopoly money

So consolidation means what? Typically, regionalized services by utilities means a loss of stable local jobs accompanied by higher costs. Remember it’s not a competitive industry. They get a regulated return for delivering energy. That’s why reducing costs does not translate to lower energy costs (note; if they spend less, they make less profit). Consolidating accounting, customer service, and management typically results in longer wait times, longer outage times, and higher returns to corporate shareholders.

The good news is that you do have competition for your energy services. Realgy Energy Services offer electric and natural gas service that is consistently below the utility. We compete for your business, by saving you money. And we do enjoy competing with bigger utilities!

Read the full Chicago Sun-Times article: “Wisconsin Energy buying Peoples Gas parent Integrys for $9.1 billion”.


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