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Mike Nixon, one of our very own direct sales representatives, was making waves today discussing with a local news station about what we do. "We help them understand the program."
Watch below to see him in action:
Small retail energy suppliers nip at BGE’s market share
April 26, 2009 | Baltimore Business Journal | baltimorebusinessjournal.com
Two energy suppliers are heating up competition for residential energy service and say they are adding hundreds of new customers a week who are looking to save cash or go green.
North Virginia-based Washington Gas Energy Services and Rockville based Clean Currents have stepped up their marketing and outreach in the Baltimore area and say there has been a spate of customers switching their electricity service from utilities like Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
A lack of alternatives to utility service for residential ratepayers has been a point of contention in the industry recently, as the General Assembly considered reversing a 1999 decision to allow competition for electric service. Some state leaders have said the deregulation has failed to drive prices down, as was intended. But growth among retail energy suppliers could show the contrary.
The suppliers said they have seen more traffic because ratepayers are looking to save money. Differences in their rates to BGE’s mean hundreds of dollars in savings on energy costs. At the same time, those rates could be subject to more fluctuation down the road as energy prices change because retail power companies and utilities all differ in their strategies for buying power in advance.
“Companies winning customers by offering lower rate for power”
Washington gas Energy Services, an affiliate of regulated utility Washington Gas, is adding about 1,000 new customers in Maryland each week, said Harry Warren, company president. The company has been seeking customers in BGE’s service area since 2006 but has seen strong growth in recent months as it has stepped up its presence here. It has 70,000 customers across its entire service area, but Warren would not break down how many of those were in BGE’s service area.
Washington Gas Energy Services has been undertaking direct mail campaigns, newspaper advertising and even door-to-door marketing in Greater Baltimore of both its electricity and gas service. It’s offering power that includes various levels of wind generation for rates of 10.8 cents to 12.9 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the Office of People’s Counsel, which represents state residents’ interests with the Maryland Public Service Commission. BGE’s rate is at 11.82 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the office.
Clean Currents also offers varying mixes of wind power and other modes of generation, and is adding several hundred new customers per week, for a total of about 1,000 in Greater Baltimore, said CEO Gary Skulnik. The company’s rates range from 11.1 cents to 11.8 cents per kilowatt hour.
Wayne Harbaugh, BGE’s vice president for pricing and regulatory services, confirmed that the utility is seeing an uptick in the number of its residential customers choosing to shop around. According to the most recent figures, from February, 3 percent of residential accounts in BGE’s service area were using retail electricity service instead of BGE, according to the PSC.
BGE has 1.2 million electric customers. Harbaugh and Skulnik said many customers have said they’re switching out of a desire to save money and also, in some cases, to lessen their carbon footprint. Both Clean Currents and Washington Gas Energy Services offer a mix of wind power, and in many cases at costs lower than BGE’s rates. Harbaugh said the utility encourages its customers to shop around when prices are low, as they are right now. BGE’s rates haven’t lowered as quickly as retail suppliers’ in response to the wholesale price changes, Harbaugh said, but that also means they won’t rise as quickly when prices rebound.
Phyllis Gianotti said she began shopping around after her mother passed away and she started handling utility bills for two houses. She ended up joining a power-buying co-op formed by Columbia firm CQI Associates and several area chambers of commerce and isn’t sure what her savings will be yet. She is eligible for the co-op because she works in the office of a large McDonald’s franchise in Pasadena, which is a member of its local chamber.
But she said she thinks there are many others who had been skeptical of shopping around but made the leap as they looked for ways to save money.
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