Energy deregulation is one of the best things that’s ever happened to Ohio, and other states that have enacted it. When energy is regulated, only a few authorized suppliers are allowed to generate and sell energy. The power plants and providers allowed to participate are unified as the ‘local utility company’. In a regulated state, homes and businesses are required to buy their power from the local utility company at the currently listed prices and available plans. This has become the status-quo.
In our country, it is now normal to assume that you will be dealing with whatever utility company is available. But times are changing, and so are state-to-state policies. Approximately half the states have deregulated electricity, natural gas, or both; effectively opening the market for independent energy suppliers to begin offering a completely new experience: Choice in your utilities.
Not only does this free up your business or school from uniform utility company pricing, but choosing your own energy supplier is also the best way to get exactly the energy plan you need without paying for anything you don’t. Today, we’re here to take a look at eight of the leading reasons to take the time and carefully select exactly the right energy provider for each facility. Better prices is just the beginning.
Most adults know what it’s like to find an unpleasant surprise lurking in the power bill. Maybe you turned up the AC during a heat wave; maybe you threw an event but didn’t calculate for power costs. Or maybe your utility company just tacked on an additional and apparently completely arbitrary fee.
The biggest problem with a regulated utility company is that it has the monopoly. Unless you want to try and generate your own power, you need electricity from the power utility. No modern home or business can do without it. But to get the power, people in energy-regulated states simply have to pay whatever prices the power utility chooses to charge.
They can rack up demand charges, stack on pointless fees, or change your regular rates any time they want. And there is no room for dispute. If you don’t like the prices, you could always stop buying energy. Except that you can’t. That is the first and among the best great reasons to deregulate energy state-by-state and to look for businesses in a deregulated state to seek an independent energy provider.
Utility providers often offer a small selection of plans that they feel are appropriate for locals. There may be a fixed versus variable rate option, business vs residential, or you might even be able to pick a demand charge profile. But you only get to pick what the utility company chooses to offer. And of the plans available don’t suit your needs or budget, too bad.
In a deregulated state, independent energy suppliers drastically change the status-quo. Because they are not part of the greater state utility company and share neither power plants nor profits with the local utility company, independent energy suppliers have every reason to offer a unique selection of plans. And each new supplier may be offering a different and more appealing plan than the last.
When you are shopping for an independent energy provider, you finally have the freedom to choose an energy plan that works well for your business, not just the best of several bad options.
Another inconvenient side-effect of the utility company monopoly in regulated states is poor customer service. The problem is that a regulated utility company doesn’t have to win your business or keep customers happy. Because everyone needs electricity and they are the only local authorized providers.
You may have had some first-hand experience with utility company customer service. They may have an automated phone tree, a seldom-answered email address, or even friendly people on the phone who simply have no power to actually to actually do anything. The problem often continues even after a state deregulates because that is how the utility company has always done things.
But as a business, you need more than an energy supplier that sends power through your lines and a bill at the end of each month. With an independent energy provider, you have the opportunity to seek out a team of managers an customer service techs who you actually enjoy working with. Whether you’re updating your plan or reporting an outage, a great energy support team is now within your grasp.
We mentioned earlier that utility companies don’t have to explain their prices to anyone and take a brutal ‘Take it or leave it’ stance on whether or not you pay what they say you owe. Part of the major problem here, the reason so many people are dissatisfied by utility company services, is that there is no transparency. Maybe you get lucky and your local utility is consistent on charges and fees, but maybe not.
Utility company prices are whatever they say, and their process can be completely opaque because they have a captive clientele. Independent energy companies don’t have that freedom and, unlike regulated utility companies, they function like normal businesses. This means that customer satisfaction and transparency about charges is the best possible approach.
So when you switch from the old utility company to an independent energy supplier, expect to be pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices and transparent billing items. In fact, you might even choose base on what invoices look like and how transparent each design is for you.
Join us next time for the second half of this two-part article on the other four reasons why choosing your energy supplier is an important step for any business and school to make. For more energy insights and ideas on how to save money on running your facility, contact us today!