ENH Power & North Country Chamber Present Energy Panel

On October 22nd, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and ENH Power teamed up for a presentation and panel discussion on how to bring down electricity electricity costs and conserve energy in other areas.

On October 22nd, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and ENH Power teamed up for a presentation and panel discussion on how to bring down electricity costs and conserve energy in other areas.

With winter coming, Eversource/PSNH, Unitil, and Liberty electricity supply costs will be going up.   One of the goals of the discussion was to provide an insight into why New England electricity costs are high and what you can do now to reduce your electricity bill.

Panel experts included:  Candace Sanborn – VP of Marketing Provider Power/ENH Power, Stacy Sand, Energy Auditor-Go Green Energy Audits, Chris Miller from Rockingham Electric, Roland Berthium – Foam Insulator of North Country Spray Foam.

The next stop for the energy panel will be as part of the Mount Washington Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting (October 29, 2015).  For details about this event, visit the Mount Washington Chamber’s website.

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Electricity Maine & Maine Apartment Association Energy Panel

Electricity Maine discussed plans to offer a new Nights and Weekends plan that will allow residential and small business owners as well as property managers to pay a substantially lower rate during off-peak hours.

On October 15, 2015, Electricity Maine joined energy experts from Central Maine Power (C.M.P), Efficiency Maine, and Wesco Distribution for a discussion about managing energy costs. Sponsored by the Maine Apartment Association, representatives talked about emerging technologies, efficiency lighting, rebate opportunities, and energy management and monitoring opportunities.

Electricity Maine discussed plans to offer a new Nights and Weekends plan that will allow residential and small business owners as well as property managers to pay a substantially lower rate during off-peak hours.  If you were not lucky enough to join us for the discussion, feel free to flip though some of the information that was presented.

Additional Energy Panels are planned in the coming months.  The next energy panel will be as part of Maine Biz’s Momentum Convention on November 11th and include representatives of ReVision Energy, Central Maine Power, Summit Natural Gas, and of course Electricity Maine.


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Behind the Headlines & Electric Utility Fees

It is always good to look beyond the headlines, they don't always tell the whole story. This Wall Street Journal story about electric utility fees is one example.

The Headlines Read:

A Wall Street Journal article from October 20, 2015 suggests that utilities are seeking to punish customers because of their efforts to conserve electricity. The article, well the research used to justify the article, is based mostly on a report published by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (in Chicago).

The Research Says:

The headline and report from the Chicago group are very misleading. Yes, 22 utilities have asked for higher fees. Yes, other utilities have suggested they may ask for increases. These fees though are not a result of consumers’ conservation efforts-they are fees associated with developing a smarter grid, infrastructure upkeep and associated costs.

From WSJ.com

What the article does point out and should be of concern, flat rate ‘fees’ that every consumer pays the same amount for disproportionately impact those who use less power. While most of our electric bill can be attributed to the amount of power we use (we pay a rate per kilowatt for supply and a separate rate per kilowatt for delivery), fees are fixed and not tied to usage

Bradley Klein, a lawyer for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, is quoted this way,

The result {of higher fixed fees} is that low-use customers pay more than in the past, and high-use customers pay less.

William Dornbos from the Maine-based Acadia Center (they promote clean energy) says high monthly fees reduce the portion of the bill that a customer has the ability to lower.

Fixed fees are unpopular because they disempower the customers and discourage investments in rooftop solar and energy efficiency.

To bring this full circle, the reality is:

• In both regulated and de-regulated states, utilities have fixed rate fees. Fess are usually related to costs associated with infrastructure and technology updates.
• Utility fees are the one part of your electric bill not tied to kilowatt usage.
• Fees are approved by regulators, consumers do have an opportunity to speak up and oppose (or support them) before enacted.
• Deregulated states, where consumers select their supply company, are not immune to these utility fees.
• Conservation efforts don’t cause these fees to increase; this is especially true in states with energy choice

A copy of the author's Central Maine Power bill showing "Fixed Delivery Fee"
A copy of the author’s Central Maine Power bill showing “Fixed Delivery Fee”

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Business, Community Energy Savings, New Hampshire

ENH Power Applauds Increased Transparency with new N.H. PUC shopping site

As has been widely reported by numerous news outlets, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission launched a new website for electricity consumers.  The website can be found at the commission’s website under the consumer interests tab.

According to the N.H. PUC, shoppers identify whether they are residential or small commercial customers and then select their local utility from the list that includes Eversource, Unitil, NH Electric Cooperative and Liberty Utilities.

At ENH Power and across the Provider Power family of companies (including Electricity Maine and Provider Power Mass) we have consistently supported the efforts of advocates and regulators across the region to encourage transparency around electricity choice.  The Massachusetts DPU is about to launch their test site, the Office of Public Advocate in Maine already has a website dedicated to providing information about electricity choice to residential and small business consumers.

Homeowners, renters, and those who run small business have many options and a lot of information to digest before they can make informed decisions about how they want to purchase electricity.  These tools can be a valuable resource.

According to the story in the Concord Monitor, Amanda Noonan, director of the commission’s consumer affairs division, cautioned that consumers need to be sure they read and understand the terms of the offers, such as whether the price is fixed or variable and the duration of the offer.

This new site by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commissions shows that rate is just one consideration when looking at electricity supply options. Length of contract, fixed or variable plans, and clear terms and conditions need to be part of the buying process. By making information clear, concise and easy to understand, Granite Stater’s can make better decisions about their buying their electricity.




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Energy Panel: Energy Efficiency & What It Means for Your Properties

With electricity rates likely to increase this winter we are teaming up with energy experts to provide a forum to discuss energy conservation, energy management tools and the importance of shopping for electricity plans.

With electricity rates likely to increase this winter, Electricity Maine is teaming up with Central Maine Power, Wesco Distribution and Efficiency Maine to provide a forum for property owners and facility managers to discuss opportunities for energy conservation, energy management tools and the importance of shopping for electricity plans.

Sponsored by the Maine Apartment Association, topics will include lighting and appliance upgrades (whose costs can be off-set by Efficiency Maine rebate programs), smart grid technology offered through CMP and information about electricity choice in a deregulated market.


Fall Education Seminar


To purchase tickets or other information visit The Maine Apartment Association’s website.

Panelists scheduled to appear are Mark Whitney from Wesco, Rick Meiking from Efficiency Maine, Brianna Pierce from CMP’s Energy Management Program and Emile Clavet, Co-Founder of Electricity Maine/Provider Power.

This energy forum is just the first of several Electricity Maine will be participating in over the next few months.   Future energy panels will include similar discussions around energy choice, conservation, and rebate opportunities.  Panels are planned for Augusta/Kennebec Valley area, Mid-Coast, Bangor, Lewiston/Auburn and York County.






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National Grid Winter Rates Increase (again)

National Grid Massachusetts has announced their winter rate increase. Consumers across Massachusetts, tired of rates shifts, look to longer term fixed rates from supply companies like Provider Power Mass.

As if pro-forma for Massachusetts electric utilities, National Grid has asked for their winter rate increase.  Last year it was a 37% hike and this year their request to the Mass DPU is a 21% increase (compared to their spring/summer rates).  If approved, the new rate of 13.1 cents/per kWh will begin on 11/1/2015 for 6 months.  This yearly rate increase comes along as consumers are already preparing for added costs associated with colder winter months and increased electricity usage.

The rate request is being reported across several media outlets in the region:  Boston Globe, Fox Boston, Boston Herald.

Not including the new yet to be approved rate, here is a glimpse of National Grid’s seasonal rate swings since November of 2013.

Information from: www.nationalgridus.com/masselectric/non_html/MA_Residential_Table.pdf
Information from: www.nationalgridus.com/mass


Massachusetts consumers continue to seek alternatives for their electricity supply needs.  Thanks to electricity deregulation most electric utility customers may select a supply company other than their utility.  Customers stay with their utility, continue to only get one bill from that utility (the supply portion is billed through the utility), but the actual power (the supply) comes from a different company.

For National Grid and Eversource (formerly NSTAR) Massachusetts customers, longer term fixed rates from supply companies such as Provider Power Mass continue to pay dividends.  While the utilities take customers on a rate roller coaster ride, fixed longer term rates provide stability and predictability for homeowners, renters and small businesses across the Bay State.

Provider Power Mass, along with ENH Power and Electricity Maine, is part of the Provider Power family of companies.  New England owned, doing business locally and purchasing power through the New England Power Pool,  Provider Power brings competitive, fixed long-term electricity rates to residential and small businesses across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.




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Midcoast Maker Faire (Powerful) Fun

This year Electricity Maine is one of the primary sponsors of the Midcoast Mini Maker Faire. At the Camden Public Library and adjacent Amphitheatre, Makers of all types will come together to show off inventions, creative ideas and good 'ole fashioned resourcefulness.

This year Electricity Maine is one of the primary sponsors of the Midcoast Mini Maker Faire.  At the Camden Public Library and adjacent Amphitheatre, Makers of all types will come together to show off inventions, creative ideas and good ‘ole fashioned resourcefulness.

If you have never been to a Maker Faire, I urge you to do so. Check out some highlights from the 2013 Faire.

MMMF 2013 from Camden Public Library on Vimeo

The Midcoast Maker Faire, like similar events across the globe are independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.

Who goes to these events?  Who doesn’t!   215,000 people attended the two flagship Maker Faires in San Fransisco and New York in 2014.  A family-friendly event, 50% attend the event with children. In 2014, 119 independently-produced Mini and 14 Featured Maker Faires occurred around the world, including Tokyo, Rome, Detroit, and Oslo.

11960260_980770455313560_2169376875183896206_nIn August our sister company ENH Power sponsored a Maker’s Faire in Dover, New Hampshire.   Just as we did at that event, in Rockland we’ll be creating electricity using Play Doh.  Judy Vardamis, one of our Community Outreach Coordinators and Loren Lachapelle will

We hope you’ll join us in Camden.  For more information such as other presenters, sponsors, hours of operation (OK, it is 9/12 from 11am-3pm) and location (well, we already established it is at the Camden Public Library) visit their website www.midcoastmakerfaire.com.


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More Nat Gas Pipelines May Not Be The Answer

Calls for more studies of natural gas capacity and more pipelines may not be answer to the rollercoaster rate ride offered by the utilities.

In general, the two main drivers of wholesale electricity prices in New England are the cost of fuel used to produce electricity and consumer demand.

The closure of nuclear power plants, the costs of operating coal fired plants in New England, and the region’s dependence on natural gas has contributed to price volatility.

Instead of going with fixed, longer term rates many residential and small business consumers continue to use their utility as their supply company. In Massachusetts consumers who have not yet selected an electricity supply company (like Provider Power Mass) and instead continue to get their supply from their utility, are subjected to wicked rate swings.   .

On the political front many have sought answers, stepping up on behalf of constituents, recommending the situation be studied…and studied…and studied.  Since electricity prices are (as previously stated) a product of supply versus demand, conventional wisdom is that if you increase supply-then prices should stabilize.  As a result of these studies and the opinions of experts, underway are several initiatives to increase the flow of natural gas into Massachusetts (as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island).

There is of course a wrinkle.

As pointed out in a recent Boston Glob piece, Ann Berwick a former Massachusetts’ undersecretary for energy and later head of the Mass. Department of Public Utilities, more product doesn’t necessarily mean lower prices. She suggests we look at electricity costs in Pennsylvania.

Boston Globe.  8/17/15
Boston Globe. 8/17/15

Berwick says consumers need to have a thorough understanding of all the players and their roles in this debate, as well as some realities that don’t always make headlines.

  • Many proponents of added capacity are energy companies.  Under current regulations, utilities make more money by building infrastructure than by encouraging conservation and energy efficiency. So, of course, they argue for infrastructure.
  • Black & Veatch study — done under the auspices of the New England States Committee on Electricity — favored more natural gas, but also concluded that if increased energy efficiency limits growth in the demand, no additional gas will be needed.
  • New natural gas pipeline capacity won’t be a benign solution to our electricity or energy challenges. It would exacerbate our dependence on a single fuel with a history of price volatility.   This dependence could impact future policy towards a fossil fuel that is far from clean, and increase our reliance on a fuel that depends on fracking.

At Provider Power we believe an independent, thorough analysis of the energy/electricity landscape in New England is needed.  Consumer understanding and education should continue to be a priority.  At Provider Power Mass, regardless of the energy landscape, we will continue to offer competitive, long term fixed rates and information to help Massachusetts consumers mitigate the rate roller-coaster rate ride.  To learn more about Provider Power Mass, please visit us at www.providerpowermass.com.


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