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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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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Simple Tips to Save Money & Energy Around the House

No more thinking or guesswork - Here are some simple ways you can cut back on energy consumption for each room in your home - and save money while doing so!

Have you ever wondered how you can cut energy costs depending on the room you’re in? Now, we take the thinking and guessing out of it. Here are some simple ways you can cut back on energy consumption for each major room in your home.

Save Money and; Energy Around the House

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Energy In the News: July Recap

Regional and national news stories about energy and electricity prices in New Hampshire.

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Is Nuclear the Answer to New England’s Electricity Price Volatility?

Nuclear Matters campaign Co-Chair Sen. Judd Gregg says early closure of nuclear power plants are causing electricity prices to go up. The argument is that nuclear is of better value than other options and a cleaner option than coal.

In a recent the Cape Cod Times piece (which was really a press statement from a New York City PR agency) Nuclear Matters campaign Co-Chair Sen. Judd Gregg talks about the benefits of Nuclear Power.

According to their website the mission of Nuclear Matters is to inform the public about the clear benefits that nuclear energy provides to our nation, raise awareness of the economic challenges to nuclear energy that threaten those benefits, and to work with stakeholders to explore possible policy solutions that properly value nuclear energy as a reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity resource that is essential to America’s energy future.

One argument outlined by Sen. Gregg is that the premature closure of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and possible closure of other plants in the region are having an adverse impact on the cost of electricity.  His contention is that the early closure of nuclear power plans and our over reliance on natural gas is making electricity too expensive for electricity customers in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Gregg also says nuclear power plants produce electricity at a good value without emitting any carbon dioxide.  Cleaner for the environment he says than other options like coal burning plants.

ISO-New England operates the region’s power grid.  At any time any of us can see what the current power mix is for the region. If you like this type of stuff, I urge you to check out their website.  This is what it looked like at 11:31 AM on July 28.  While this number fluctuates based on demand, nuclear made up about 22% of the fuel mix.

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Is there room and opportunity within our current energy mix to use more nuclear? Yes. In fact, nuclear used to play a much greater role in generating electricity for the region.   While nuclear could have a positive impact on the per kilowatt price of electricity, like all means of generation, costs associated with the plant and upkeep will show up on other parts of our electricity bill.

As a former United States Senator and Governor from New Hampshire, Mr. Gregg is certainly qualified to and familiar with the state of energy affairs in New England.   It is of course important to consider his role and the role of this organization, to advocate on behalf of the nuclear energy sector.

 

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Green Living New Hampshire

ENH Power Teams UP with Hanover N.H. For Green Power Challenge

ENH Power and the Town of Hanover New Hampshire teamed up for a very successful project, Hanover's Green Power Challenge. ENH Power provided a competitive rate for Green-E certified electricity, each new enrollment also helped generate funds for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD

Case Study: Hanover Green Power Challenge

Background

The Town of Hanover, NH has a goal to be 20% green by 2017. Part of reaching this goal includes buying electricity from 100% renewable sources. The town had formed a committee called Sustainable Hanover to focus on these efforts.  Some of the committee members knew ENH Power had a good reputation and offered a Pure Green electricity rate.

In the winter of 2015, the committee reached out to Candace Sanborn, Vice President of Provider Power, the parent of ENH Power, to ask if we could offer an even higher level of green power, Green-E certified electricity.

Green-E certified electricity is the nation’s leading independent designation by the EPA for certifying and verifying renewable energy. They also wanted the energy sources to be located largely in New England.  While a competitive price was important to Sustainable Hanover, it was not the primary driver.

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Process

ENH Power had no previous experience with Green-E certified electricity, but agreed to do the research to see what it could offer.  Led by our Vice President of Supply & Pricing, Neil McKellar, during the winter in 2015, ENH Power determined that it could make this happen and worked with Sustainable Hanover to determine how this program would be structured.

The chief issue was that electricity is a commodity and pricing moves relatively quickly as a result of demand, weather and other factors.  Setting a specific price that Sustainable Hanover could quote to residents over a period of time would be a challenge.

Rate/Terms and Promotion

To solve this issue, ENH proposed a 6-week campaign from mid-April to May, 2015 when electricity pricing would be favorable. The group could give residents a price range, the lowest and highest potential price they would pay, based on how many residents participated – the larger the number, the lower the rate.  Either way, ENH determined that the rate would be slightly less than the average rate a resident would pay over the proposed term – 16 months – had they stayed with their utility. This rate would be listed on a custom web page on ENH Power’s website that Sustainable Hanover would promote, asking people to complete a short information form indicating their intent to enroll. Sustainable Hanover liked the idea and together they crafted a roll-out plan.

ENH Power worked with Sustainable Hanover on language for the email announcements and talking points that Sustainable Hanover would use to promote the “Hanover Green Power Challenge” to residents. The committee also organized and promoted a kick-off event in early May 2015 at the local community center where ENH Power stood side by side with Sustainable Hanover, providing handouts and showing videos, to promote the program to approximately 50 residents. The committee sent out additional emails and spoke to friends, colleagues and family members.

In addition to the kick-off event, Hanover publicized the program on the town website, sent out a press-release and the committee included information on various social media channels.  ENH Power created a unique landing page on their website, using real time personalizing presented information on their website to viewers of their site from specific regions of New Hampshire, and created targeted social media posts.

Through their Power to Help initiative, ENH Power also announced that they would contribute $5 for each enrollment to the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD).  CHaD has been a long term non-profit partner of ENH Power.

Results/Conclusions

The effort was a huge success, surpassing the group’s expectations with nearly 400 households signing up by the deadline of May 31, 2015. ENH confirmed the rate – which was on the lower end of the scale because of the high volume of participants – and Sustainable Hanover emailed residents telling them the good news.  Residents then had three business days to change their mind, and one person opted out. As a result their success, Sustainable Hanover is interested in doing another Challenge in the fall of 2015, this time including small businesses.

According to Sanborn, Sustainable Hanover’s strong leadership, commitment, and excellent communication were the keys to this success. “They were an absolute pleasure to work with. I look forward to our next round!”

Media & Internet Coverage

 

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Are Automatic Bill Payments Driving Up Energy Use?

A recent study suggests those who use auto bill pay programs tend to not pay attention to how much power they use. The result, higher consumption and higher energy bills.

Across the Provider Power family of companies (Electricity Maine, ENH Power, Provider Power Mass) we take great pride in sharing ideas, tips and techniques to help you reduce energy consumption around your home and office. Let’s face it, regardless of how much you are paying per kilowatt for electricity, using less power is the best way to save on your power bill.

When was the last time you looked at your electric bill, do you know how how much power you are use every month? If you don’t know or haven’t looked at your electric bill, I wonder if it is because you participate in an automatic payment program.

A new study released by The Review of Economics and Statistics suggests customers who use automatic bill payment programs use more energy, and accordingly have higher bills, than those that aren’t.

While there is convenience for both the consumer and businesses, there may be an energy downside. More than 14 million monthly bills for 684,000 accounts (both residential and business) were reviewed. Those who participated in an auto pay program experienced a 4% increase in consumption. Newer participants in auto pay programs had a 6% increase in consumption. Businesses on an auto pay program use 8.1% more power.

There are a myriad of benefits to electric utilities, supply companies (such as us) as well as consumers to continue with automatic bill payments. Should we eliminate automatic bill payments? No. Should we pay closer attention to how much power we are using? Yes.  We shouldn’t allow the benefits of auto bill payments to supersede our responsibility to pay attention to energy usage.

In the “old days” we used to open our bill from our power company, write out a check and drop it in the mail.   According to the research, the hands off approach to paying our power bills, not reviewing the details or even look at our bill, has led to an out of sight/out of mind mentality.

Most utilities, especially those with an automatic bill pay options, offer the opportunity to review your power bill on line, including day by day usage details.

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Thanks to smart meters and smart grids, some of us are able to review energy use in real time (or close to real time). Central Maine Power customers are able to take advantage of CMP’s “Energy Manager”, customers are able to monitor energy use for the previous day.

Just as it took time for consumers to embrace the idea of auto payments, we should become more comfortable with and utilize the online resources available to us to monitor and track our energy consumption.

 

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