What is Deregulation?
In the past, one utility provided the three components of your energy service: generation, transmission and distribution. Legislatures and the public utility commissions of many states have created competition for electricity and natural gas supply. This allows consumers to choose their energy supplier, while the delivery of the energy is still regulated and is the responsibility of the local utility company.
Under Deregulated Markets:
- You can go direct and choose the company that produces energy, or the company who buys it on your behalf to sell to you.
- There is flexibility to create an energy strategy that suits your individual needs.
- The reliability of transmission and distribution is guaranteed and regulated by the PUC.
- Price protection from market volatility and rising costs is possible.
- There are potential savings including tax savings in some markets.
What Affects the Price of Energy?
The cost to generate electricity actually varies minute-by-minute. Throughout a single day, the wholesale price of electricity on the electric power grid1 reflects the real-time demand for electricity. Demand is usually highest in the afternoon and early evening when usage is at a peak (so called “on-peak” hours) which means prices are higher at these times. However, most consumers pay rates based on the seasonal average price of electricity so they do not experience these price fluctuations.
Energy production and use are sensitive to changes in the climate. For example, increasing temperatures will reduce consumption of energy for heating but increase energy used for cooling buildings. The implications of climate change for energy supply are less clear than for energy demand. Climate change effects on energy supply and demand will depend not only on climatic factors, but also on patterns of economic growth, land use, population growth and distribution, technological change and social and cultural trends that shape individual and institutional actions.
Changes in temperature due to climate change could affect our demand for energy. For example, rising air temperatures will likely lead to substantial increases in energy demand for air conditioning in most North American cities (IPCC, 2007). On the other hand, energy needed for space-heating may decrease. The net effects of these changes on energy production, use and utility bills, will vary by region and by season.
There may also be changes in energy consumed for other climate-sensitive processes, such as pumping water for irrigation in agriculture. Rising temperatures and associated increases in evaporation may increase energy needs for irrigation, particularly in dry regions across the Western U.S.
Depending on the magnitude of these possible energy consumption changes, it may be necessary to consider changes in energy supply or conservation practices to balance demand. Many other factors (e.g., population growth, economic growth, energy efficiency changes and technological change) will also affect the timing and size of future changes in the capacity of energy systems.
Price Protection Plans
Price Protection plans guarantee a fixed rate for a specific period of time. The price is set when the contract is signed and does not change throughout the entire term of the contract. Due to the volatility of the market, price protection plans offer customers stability by giving them the option of locking in their rate.
Price Protection allows the customer to budget their monthly utility expenses. Electricity and gas rates change daily, so what you pay today will not be the rate you pay tomorrow. With price protection plans cost changes never affect the customer. There are never unanticipated charges or increases for the entirety of the agreement.
Variable Rate Plans
In Variable Rate plans the customer’s energy rate will change on a month to month basis, reflecting changes in the market. The customer is not required to lock into a contract with variable rate plans, but do not receive the benefits of protection against market fluctuations. The customer can choose to switch over to a fixed rate plan at any time for no charge.
The prices in variable rate plans reflect changes in the market. This plan is generally what the customer has been experiencing with their utility company, and there is no guarantee that the customer will save money on this plan.
What is Electricity
Electricity is present everywhere in our lives. Electricity lights up our homes, cooks our food, powers our computers, television sets, and other electronic devices. Electricity from batteries keeps our cars running and makes our flashlights shine in the dark. Electricity is the flow of electrical power or charge. It is both a basic part of nature and one of our most widely used forms of energy. It is actually a secondary energy source, also referred to as an energy carrier. That means that we get electricity from the conversion of other sources of energy, such as coal, nuclear, or solar energy. These are called primary sources. The energy sources we use to make electricity can be renewable or non-renewable, but electricity itself is neither renewable nor nonrenewable.
The Flow of Electricity
The traditional flow of electricity is divided into generation, transmission, and distribution.
- Generation – the process of creating electricity from other forms of energy (fossil fuels, nuclear energy, renewable energy sources).
- Transmission – the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating power plants to substations located near to population centers.
- Distribution – is the final stage in the delivery (before retail) of electricity to end users. A distribution system's network carries electricity from the transmission system and delivers it to consumers.
What is Natural Gas
Natural gas is a gas consisting primarily of methane. It is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers. Natural gas is often informally referred to as simply gas, especially when compared to other energy sources such as oil or coal.
Natural gas is a major source of electricity generation through the use of gas turbines and steam turbines. Most grid peaking power plants and some off-grid engine-generators use natural gas. Natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, and produces less carbon dioxide per unit energy released. For an equivalent amount of heat, burning natural gas produces about 30% less carbon dioxide than burning petroleum and about 45% less than burning coal. Combined cycle power generation using natural gas is thus the cleanest source of power available using fossil fuels, and this technology is widely used wherever gas can be obtained at a reasonable cost. Fuel cell technology may eventually provide cleaner options for converting natural gas into electricity, but as yet it is not price-competitive.
In the United States, retail sales are often in units of therms (th); 1 therm = 100,000 BTU. Gas meters measure the volume of gas used, and this is converted to therms by multiplying the volume by the energy content of the gas used during that period, which varies slightly over time. Wholesale transactions are generally done in decatherms (Dth), or in thousand decatherms (MDth), or in million decatherms (MMDth). A million decatherms is roughly a billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Hydropower generation is the energy source that is likely to be most directly affected by climate change because it is sensitive to the amount, timing and geographical pattern of precipitation and temperature. Furthermore, hydropower needs may increasingly conflict with other priorities, such as salmon restoration goals in the Pacific Northwest (IPCC, 2007). However, changes in precipitation are difficult to project at the regional scale, which means that climate change will affect hydropower either positively and negatively, depending on the region.
Infrastructure for energy production, transmission and distribution could be affected by climate change. For example, if a warmer climate is characterized by more extreme weather events such as windstorms, ice storms, floods, tornadoes and hail, the transmission systems of electric utilities may experience a higher rate of failure, with attendant costs (IPCC, 2007). Power plant operations can be affected by extreme heat waves. For example, intake water that is normally used to cool power plants become warm enough during extreme heat events that it compromises power plant operations.
Finally, some renewable sources of energy could be affected by climate change, although these changes are very difficult to predict. If climate change leads to increased cloudiness, solar energy production could be reduced. Wind energy production would be reduced if wind speeds increase above or fall below the acceptable operating range of the technology. Changes in growing conditions could affect biomass production, a transportation and power plant fuel source that is starting to receive more attention (IPCC, 2007).
Green power is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Customers often buy green power for avoided environmental impacts and its greenhouse gas reduction benefits.
This includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. Such fuel sources include the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (biomass), and the earth’s heat (geothermal). Although the impacts are small, some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment. For example, large hydroelectric resources can have environmental trade-offs associated with issues such as fisheries and land use.
"Green power doesn’t change the way you get your energy, but the way power is made."
The benefits of generating electricity using clean renewable resources are broad, ranging from environmental to economic. By choosing clean electricity you can do something positive for the environment today that also creates benefits for the generations of tomorrow.
- No emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, or particulate matter into the air, water or soil. Commonly cited effects of these harmful pollutants include climate change, mercury poisoning, acid rain and smog
- Doesn’t require fossil-fuel extraction that seriously damages the land
- Made from unlimited renewable sources that will never run out, unlike limited and polluting fossil fuel sources
- Helps preserve and protect the environment for future generations
- Creates employment opportunities in the green job sector in the U.S.; between 1998 and 2007, clean energy economy jobs — a mix of white-and blue-collar positions — grew by 9.1 percent, while total jobs grew by only 3.7 percent.
- Helps secure America’s energy future by investing in domestic sources of energy
Our Green Commitment
PLATINUM ADVERTISING is committed to promoting environmentally friendly energy plans for consumers. Many of the suppliers we work with offer Green alternatives to energy. These Green alternatives are fueled by solar, wind, and hydro power.
- Solar - Solar energy is generated using the sun’s powerful rays. Because sunlight is inexhaustible, solar energy is a valuable renewable energy source – capable of directly generating heat, light and electricity. According to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), the amount of energy from the sun that falls to the earth in one day could supply the entire world's energy needs for 27 years.
- Wind - Wind energy is becoming one of the most commonly discussed forms of renewable energy. When the wind blows, it turns the blades of large wind mills (or turbines) that connect to a generator and turn it into electricity. Modern wind turbines are very large, with the diameter of the blades ranging from 150 to 300 feet.
- Hydro - Hydro energy is generated when the force of moving water spins the blades of a turbine to generate electricity. Currently, hydroelectricity is the world's overwhelming renewable energy of choice, supplying about 19 percent of the world's electricity. Hydro power also supplies an estimated 10 percent of electric generating capacity in the United States via dams and turbines.
“Sustainability is the concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
Several of the suppliers PLATINUM ADVERTISING works with offer natural gas supply that is environmentally friendly. Some suppliers are beginning to offer enhancements to their standard natural gas plans such as carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are defined as financial instruments aimed at a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsets are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) and may represent six primary categories of greenhouse gases. One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases.
Offsets are typically achieved through financial support of projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the short- or long-term. The most common project type is renewable energy, such as wind farms, biomass energy, or hydroelectric dams. Others include energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural byproducts, destruction of landfill methane, and forestry projects. Some of the most popular carbon offset projects from a corporate perspective are energy efficiency and wind turbine projects
Why sell Carbon offset Enhancements?
- This gives customers an easy way to reduce their carbon footprints while supporting projects aimed at improving air and water quality in our local areas.
- Everyone wants cleaner water and air!
- When it comes down to it, you’re still selling natural gas.
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