Energy Update

September 19th, 2018

Natural Gas Trading Within Tight Trading Range, But Beware of Complacency!  

(My reports focus on Natural Gas as it is the largest energy source for the generation of Electricity; therefore, Natural Gas and Electricity are highly correlated.)

In my August 13th Energy Update, I said this year’s extremely hot summer has resulted in very tight Natural Gas supplies, and although no one can absolutely predict the future, rates in the forward markets are lower than where they were nearly 95% of the time over the last 18 years and with supplies projected to remain 600 Bcf below the 5 Yr. Avg. until the end of August and stay far below normal as we start the winter heating season, we recommend hedgers secure rates now.

As I write this report, based on NOAA’s present weather forecasts below is an estimate of Natural Gas supplies from Sep 14th thru Oct 5th compared to the 5-Yr. Avg.:

 

Week Ending    2018   Net Change    5 Yr. Avg.    Deficit to 5 Yr. Avg.    % Below 5-Yr.

    

 Sep 14                    2719          +83                   3308                         589                               17.8%

Sep 21                     2788          +69                  3389                         601                                17.7%

Sep 28                    2879          +91                   3473                         594                                17.1%

Oct 05                    2978          +99                   3563                         585                                16.4%

 

Normally Natural Gas supplies increase from April thru October; therefore, it is very troubling supplies on Oct 5th are projected to be 585 Bcf below the 5 Yr. Avg, and we are projected to start the winter heating season in November with the lowest supplies in 10 years. But as you can see below; Natural Gas prices are close to where they were on August 13th.

Why have Natural Gas prices remained relatively stable with supplies at very low levels?

The answer is found in the belief increased Natural Gas production is sufficient to meet this winter’s heating demand. I agree if we don’t have a colder than normal winter, increased production will be sufficient, and prices should remain stable, but what happens if we have a colder than normal winter? Since much more Natural Gas is used during the winter than in the summer, and with supplies very low as we start the winter, it would likely lead to a dangerous shortfall in supplies and higher prices.

Also, it is important to note that by February or March, several LNG projects will come online and are projected to more than double LNG capacity to 9 BCF/day by the end of 2019. This would eat up much of the expected growth in production and in conjunction with a cold winter lead to much higher prices; therefore, I don’t believe it wise to be complacent and count on increased production being sufficient to handle demand this year with supplies at the lowest level in 10 years.

This is especially true when the price of Natural Gas is lower in the forward markets than where they were nearly 95% of the time over the last 18 years. The old proverb, “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” is as true today as in the 16th century and hedgers will benefit by reserving rates longer-term while they are below nearby rates, and not delay hoping for lower rates in the future.

Conclusions:

Although prices have remained relatively stable with supplies at very low levels, I don’t believe it is wise to be complacent and count on increased production handling demand this year with supplies at the start of the winter heating season at the lowest level in 10 years. This is especially true when the price of Natural Gas is lower in the forward markets than where they were nearly 95% of the time over the last 18 years.

Not every client’s risk tolerance and hedging strategy are the same, but we trust the above report will help you put into perspective the risk/reward opportunities now. I invite you to call one of our energy analysts to help you plan a hedging strategy appropriate for your situation.

 

Ray Franklin
North American Energy Advisory

Senior Commodity Analyst

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There’s never been a better time to invest in sustainable energy.  Sustainable energy (also known as “green energy”) is cost-effective, as well as being a wonderful point of good public relations in one’s community.

Two of the most common sustainable energy sources are wind and solar power.  While geothermal and hydroelectric options are available for parts of the country, wind and solar power can be installed in almost any area.

For commercial applications, here are some of the key points of the solar vs wind power debate.

Wind is More Common

According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2017 about 17% of electricity generation in the US came from renewable resources.  (Any electricity source not coming from fossil fuels is considered “renewable,” including burning wood, methane from compost/garbage, as well as wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) Hydropower and wind, by far, generated the most renewable energy in the US last year.

Wind power is incredibly efficient, requiring only about an average of 12 mph winds to operate at full capacity.  Though individual wind turbines and even ground-level wind turbines can be installed, the majority of wind electricity plants are “farm style”– where many large wind turbines are installed in a singular area, where they direct power onto the electrical grid.

Pros: Efficient and effective

Cons: Large, costly, unsightly

Though very large companies, such as Facebook and Amazon may create their own wind power generation farms, it is far more common for a company to purchase wind power to offset energy use, such as Google has done.

Solar is More Accessible

Driven by improvements in technology and reduction in cost, solar energy resources have grown rapidly in the past few years. There are now nearly 2 million solar installations in the US.  Like other renewable energy resources, solar energy comes with federal (and often, state) tax incentives to help offset cost of installation.  Since solar is already less expensive than many other types of energy resourcing, that incentive can make a tremendous difference.

For commercial application, some power companies will even work with a business to cover the cost of solar installation for their contracted business partners, knowing that the technology pays for itself in a short period of time with “power back to the grid” or reduced expenses for both the user and service provider.

In many cases, solar energy is also easier to maintain than wind power.  Solar panels without moving parts (by far, the most common for onsite use), have less need for maintenance and repair.

Solar panels are much smaller than wind turbines (which need to be installed above the ground where wind blows more regularly), with size variances easily tailored to be site-specific.

Pros: Efficient, effective, less obstructive

Cons: Require daylight/sunshine

Though solar technologies do continue to improve, they require sunlight.  Partially overcast days and shorter daylight hours are still acceptable for some solar technologies, but in very northern (short day) or highly overcast environments, solar panels may not generate enough energy to justify their use.

Get Started with Energy Professionals

When you work with an energy broker, you work with an independent agent to maximize your energy experience.  Energy Professionals specializes in helping you reduce and control your energy budget, and realize your sustainability goals.

Our experts will work with you to understand your energy needs, ensure that you meet them, but also plan for continued budget reduction with longevity planning.  Whether wind, solar or some other technology will best suit your needs, we also specialize in securing the sustainable energy resources that will provide you with an optimized solution.

Contact us today to find out more.

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What to Expect in the Near Future

As long as there have been human beings, we have looked to the stars for inspiration, and our own star, the sun, has been central to what makes this an ihabitable planet.

Scientists have sought to replicate the nuclear fusion that powers the intensity of our nearby star.  And while research continues into that possibility, the more immediate, limitless resource, is the daily energy output of the sun as it is received here on earth–through solar power technologies.

Harnessing solar power has been around for centuries, but some really exciting possibilities are happening right now…or just around the corner.

Smaller Scale Solar

Energy researchers have been able to increase the efficiency of solar materials and the transfer of energy, but in some ways, the size of solar panels is also crucial to advancement–since it makes solar work nearly anywhere.

Now, small-scale solar panels allow people to:

  • Power street lights, collecting light all day and giving back that light at night
  • Power cell phones, even satellite phones, in the most remote parts of the world
  • Collect the power for electric car plug-in stations

Tesla has even created solar roofing, and commercial solar windows are being created by a tech startup company.

None of these or other advances would be possible, without solar cells getting smaller and more efficient.

But with that improvement there also comes all kinds of benefits for other applications–  residential and commercial installations of solar energy applications have also grown, increasing competition in the solar market, reducing costs of installation and ownership, and creating jobs and investment opportunities in the solar energy market.

Batteries that Store Solar

Solar farms have been able to link to the solar grid for decades, and onsite solar panels have reduced the utility costs of thousands of businesses.  The greater challenge has been storage–batteries for storing excess energy collected just haven’t kept up with the technology.

As the batteries in cell phones, electric cars, and other devices improve, solar power also benefits.

Battery storage allows solar power to:

  • Collect energy during the day to power houses and businesses at night
  • Collect energy during sunny times to power during a rainy season or during shorter daylight hours
  • Collect excess energy during low-usage times for more availability during peak usage

Battery storage already meets these needs to some extent, but improving the efficiency and outcomes will increase the potential usage and cost-effectiveness.

Powering the Developing World

Large sections of the world already do not have access to consistent energy resources.  In other parts of the world, blackouts and brownouts are very common.

Transporting fossil fuels such as coal or oil to some parts of the globe brings additional challenges, particularly if such resources have to be regularly imported (due to lack of local fossil fuel resources).

The sun, however, heats the entire planet, and solar power can be installed virtually anywhere.

As solar technology continues to improve, the one-time installation costs and low maintenance costs associated with solar powering the developing world is emerging as a better option.

Bonus: Will There Ever be Solar Powered Cars?

If the movies were to be believed, hoverboards, space vacations and solar-powered cars were just around the corner.

Vehicles require a great deal of energy and aren’t particularly aerodynamically designed. However, we may see solar-powered buses and cars in the near future–it just may be a while before they become common.

Energy Professionals: Partnering for the Future

Whatever your current and future energy needs, at Energy Professionals we partner in your success.  As complete energy managers, we help you reduce and control your energy budget while realizing your sustainability goals.

Contact us to find out more.

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People have various reasons for exploring renewable energy resources.  Some fear that the world will soon “run out” of usable fossil fuels.  Others speak of global climate change as being related to the burning of fossil fuels.  Yet for many others, renewable energy isn’t just “planet-friendly” or “good long-term planning,” it is also immediately cost-saving, efficient, and technologically advanced.

Whatever your reasons for learning more, here is a super quick guide to green energy.

The Possibilities are Expanding

Renewable energy technologies are rapidly expanding.  Some of these technologies have actually been around, in some form, for centuries, but they were not as efficient as current energy needs demand.  For example, windmills have been powering farms since the days of Persia (these 1,000-year-old windmills in Iran are still in operation), but today’s wind turbines are vastly more efficient — today’s single average wind turbine can power about 332 homes.

Green energy resources include:

Hybrid technologies and other sub-technologies also exist, such as solar thermal power plants, which produce steam/thermal energy, similar to burning fossil fuels but with solar power instead.

With so many expanding possibilities, renewable energy resources have the potential to be site-specific–creating the green energy solution which works best for that area.

It Starts with Energy Conservation

Energy conservation in the past had a bad rep and sounded much like driving teeny-tiny cars and participating in lights out/blackout periods.  Those days are gone.  Thanks to continued advances in renewable energy technology, we no longer have to look at energy as a limited resource.

However, energy conservation is cost-saving, particularly for commercial businesses where energy bills can be one of the largest overhead costs.  You do not have to work in a LEED-certified building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an independent certification process), to participate in energy conservation efforts which have the potential to greatly reduce energy expenses.  Examples include:

  • Energy efficient appliances
  • Energy efficient lighting, which may include smarter bulbs (like CFL bulbs), but also such measures as reduced brightness at “off” hours, motion sensors, etc.
  • Energy efficient structural changes, such as improved insulation, smarter windows or cool roofs
  • On-site energy reduction/production, such as geothermal heat pumps or solar panels

A comprehensive energy assessment can help any size business determine which cost-saving measures would work best.

Solar is Leading the Revolution

Though solar power is a relatively new technology, it continues to both advance and get less expensive.  The most common solar energy is solar PV (photovoltaics), such as the solar panels on rooftops or at solar farms.

The US Department of Energy reports that enough energy hits the earth every hour to power the entire planet for a year!  California has run into an interesting problem: producing so much surplus energy, particularly thanks to solar power, that it has created a surplus and has to pay other states to take some of their energy!

As batteries, storage, on-site generation and other components of solar energy improve, solar power continues to lead the renewable revolution.

You have a Choice

Every consumer should get educated about energy, now that energy has become such a matter of choice.  In most states, consumers can choose where their power comes from, electing for greener energy resources.  In many states, energy choice programs, also known as energy deregulation, allow commercial and household energy consumers to choose their energy provider.

At Energy Professionals, we advocate for our clients on all aspects of energy consumption, from procurement and efficiency to energy management and sustainability.

Contact us to find out more or to obtain a free quote.

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Commercial energy bills sometimes go unexamined or misunderstood, yet paid.

Average commercial energy bills vary by state, but overall the US Energy Administration estimated costs at more than $650/month.  For larger businesses, those costs can be much higher.

But energy consumption and location are not the only factors on that bill.  Other terms include transition and transmission charges, rate codes and distribution demand.  Any individual line item, over the course of a year, can really add up.

The first step to saving money is to make sense of that energy bill.

Here’s how to decipher your commercial energy bill.

The Common Terms

Some businesses receive a dual energy bill and some a consolidated bill.  Whether it comes in two forms or one, they add up to the same things–supply charges and delivery charges.

  • Supply charges – The electricity consumed.
  • Deliver charges – The utility infrastructure, such as lines, poles, transformers and their maintenance.

Some consolidated bills will still break down the charges into these two subheadings.

The energy or supply charges are the amount of energy consumed.  They will generally also label the demand charges as such.

Demand charges are a calculated highest quantity of energy consumed at a single time, in the specified period of time (usually a 30-day billing cycle).

Here’s a simplified example:

  1. Business one has 10 refrigerators, but they only run one at a time.
  2. Business two has 2 refrigerators, but they run at the same time.

Business 2 would have a higher demand on the utility, so would get charged a higher demand rate per month than business 1.

Demand charges are based on the fact that, for the most part, energy cannot be stored–it must be generated by the utility at the time that it is needed.  As you increase demand, you have to have larger power plants to accommodate that demand.  So, the demand charges help offset the costs of building and maintaining larger power plants.

Other Factors in Energy Rates

The energy utility company may further breakdown energy bills into other subcategories.  Some of these definitions are similar funds–going to the cost of utility construction, generation, and maintenance–but some industry regulation or best practices may require the utility to list these charges under their appropriate terms.

These include:

  • Customer Charges – A fixed cost to each customer for business operations, such as administrative functions and equipment.
  • Distribution Energy Charges – The cost to the utility company of delivering energy, even if you do not directly purchase the supply from them.
  • Distribution Demand Charges – Based on the demand of your business or zone, this is an infrastructure maintenance line item.
  • Energy Efficiency Charges (or Energy Conservation Charges or SBC/RPS charges) – These are funds collected by the utility to go toward energy conservation programs. When upgrades are done to improve efficiency, they may be funded from this program.
  • Renewable Energy Charges (or Renewable Portfolio Standard, RPS) – In some states, a separate fund is collected by the utility to help develop or support renewable energy sources.
  • Transition Charges (or Competitive Transition Charges, CTC) – In some deregulated states, utilities are allowed to charge customers an additional fee to help offset the costs of doing business, since they are no longer collecting the funds for the delivery of the energy.
  • Transmission Charges – The fee for delivering energy across the utility infrastructure.

Taking Charge of Your Energy Bill

While some of the costs of energy, from the utility or the energy provider, may not be negotiable, others are. Additional on-site measures also help reduce energy consumption or demand–greatly reducing energy bills.

When you work with Energy Professionals, we are your complete energy managers.  We specialize in energy solutions that will help you meet both your budgetary and sustainability goals.

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With a growing number of states embracing energy deregulation, residential and consumer providers are empowered like never before to take control of energy expenses.

Yet many consumers do not understand the benefits of making changes to their energy solutions.

To help sort fact versus fiction, we have gathered together four of the most common myths in the world of energy consumption.

Myth 1: Rates are What They Are

News flash: “fixed” doesn’t necessarily mean “fixed.”

Even in states without energy deregulation, energy rates are often negotiable.  In those states with energy choice programs, consumers have more choices for their energy provider–creating the potential to save even more on energy expenses.

Some of the ways in which your current energy bill could be reduced include:

  • Negotiating individually lower rates
  • Joining with other businesses (aggregates) to save on energy bills
  • Reviewing bills, in detail, to find costly errors or oversights
  • Reducing peak charges through better energy management (including digital or remote options for many commercial applications)
  • Making energy upgrades or improvements

This is just a short list of some of the many ways in which your energy bill may be improved.  Working with an energy professional, you can maximize the potential available to your home or business.

Myth 2: Changing Providers Might Not Make Much Difference

While it is true that in some states you can not change energy providers, in states where deregulation makes it possible, you may be paying much more than you need to by not paying attention.

In deregulated states, your “default” energy provider is often the supplier, but scores of other options and pricing structures may be in your area.

Speaking to the Baltimore Sun, Bob Barkanic, chairman of the Retail Energy Supply Association’s electric market region of Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia observes, “Customers continue to be able to save a lot of money by shopping [for energy providers].”

Right now raw materials and energy resources are both plentiful, making the cost of energy go down.  When consumers aren’t seeing that reflected on their energy bills, it’s time to take charge of energy expenses.

Energy solution professionals get familiar with the providers available in a region, including available pricing structures by consumer size.

Myth 3: Switching Providers Involves Time-consuming Research

Some consumers do see the benefits of negotiating energy rates or switching providers but fear that doing so would divert valuable time and resources toward that research.

It just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

Well, given the potential savings, as much as 30% in deregulated markets, that change may generate immediate ROI, not just long-term gains.

Fortunately, third-party energy brokers can assist in the process–maintaining a neutral position between consumers and providers, negotiating between potential options for the best possible rate.

An energy broker can read the fine print, saving you time and money, while securing your best energy rate.

Myth 4: Greener Energy Solutions Cost More

Many businesses are seeing the benefits of sustainable energy solutions and “greener energy”– customers and investors alike want to support those businesses setting and meeting sustainability goals.

Fortunately, sustainable energy solutions are also becoming less expensive:

  • On-site changes can be made at a little-to-no upfront cost
  • Buying “green energy credits” continues to decrease in cost
  • Installing solar power is cheaper and easier than ever

With these and other advancements in sustainable energy technologies, “going green” doesn’t have to cost extra green.

Your Energy Solution Partner

At Energy Professionals, we are your partners in energy solutions.

We provide support for complete energy management–reducing costs, procuring resources, even meeting and exceeding sustainability goals.

Contact us today to realize your potential energy savings.

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In Commercial Buildings

Utilities are often one of the largest overhead expenses for businesses of every size–more of an expense than they should be.  In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) identified $3 billion in potential energy savings for the commercial sector in the United States.

In most businesses, electricity accounts for the largest portion of utility usage.  Saving electricity, then, translates directly into reduced overhead expenses.  More than that, sustainable energy practices bring additional benefits:

  • Public and consumer interest in “greener” energy can provide promotional opportunities.
  • Investor interest in sustainable energy solutions can attract potential partners and investors.
  • State and federal incentives for sustainable energy practices can further the economic benefit of money-saving upgrades.

Given so many potential benefits, here are 3 simple ways to save electricity in commercial buildings.

  1. Save on Heating and Cooling

Many businesses are still relying upon natural gas for heating, particularly in colder climates.  Other businesses rely solely upon electricity.  New technology may make it possible to use very little (if any) of either — that is, with geothermal technology.

The process of generating energy through geothermal technology requires very hot conditions–100-300℉.  In some parts of the country, such temperatures can be regularly attained through tapping into ground resources, such as natural warm springs.

Other geothermal technology includes ground source heat pumps. Ground temperatures remain fairly constant and thus can be used for both heating and cooling purposes.

  1. Save on Appliances

Lighting and appliance saving measures can have an immediate impact on saving electricity.  From smarter vending machines which use less power or have their own solar panels, to refrigeration that only turns on when outside temperatures require it, appliances continue to get smarter.

Depending on the needs of your facility, you can save tremendously with such appliance power-saving measures as:

  • Selective heating or cooling
  • Occupancy-sensitive power
  • Automatic shut off or “power save mode” after a specified time period of non-use
  • Remote monitoring, to signal an office or centralized location of power usage

When businesses demand lower-power appliances, manufacturers respond.  This technology is expected to continue to improve in the years to come.

  1. Consider Solar Panels

Solar arrays, solar farms and other large-scale solar power technologies are one of the fastest growing areas of energy innovation.  Solar panels continue to become less expensive and more attractive, while improvements in the technology itself make it possible to store more energy, generate power with fewer daylight hours, and other advancements.

As a result of these improvements, more businesses are opting to meet some or all of their electrical needs with onsite solar panels.  In some areas, solar panels can also be “hooked up into the grid,” allowing a business to first meet all of their energy needs, then flow power overage back to the energy provider and earn energy credit.

Bonus: Get an Energy Assessment

The best way to get started saving on electricity and other utilities is to get an energy assessment.  A qualified energy professional will examine your business’ needs, industry-related best practices, and available benefits for any potential upgrades.  A customized energy plan will identify cost-saving measures, as well as the best way to go about obtaining any needed facility changes.

In many states, for commercial use or for all consumers, energy choice programs further allow businesses to save on their utilities by selecting their energy providers.

At Energy Professionals, we work independently to provide you with complete energy management–from optimizing energy usage and identifying cost-saving measures, to brokering with energy partners for the best rates available in your local market.

Curious as to how you can cut costs on your energy expenses? Contact us today to get a quote.

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When electrical and natural gas supply lines first wove their way across America, there were excellent reasons for having them be state-operated; like the telephone wires connecting towns across the country, the new technology of energy needed to build its critical infrastructure.

But also, as occurred with the telephone technology, adaptation came after expansion.  Telephone companies got deregulated, the supply of the telephone lines separated from the service of connecting customers.  Cell phone technology came into existence.

Similarly, energy deregulation is just starting to take-off: the infrastructure getting separated from the service/supply.

Expect the trend of energy deregulation to continue, and with it, some wonderful benefits to customers.

Choice Saves You Money

One crucial and important aspect of energy choice programs is the competition. 

Centralized energy supply is a monopoly.  In a capitalistic model, energy suppliers must compete with one another, and that competition can play out, rather dramatically, in favor of the consumer.

In markets where options exist, those who take advantage of energy choice programs can save as much as 30% on their energy bills.

Choice Gives You Energy Control

While even some regulated markets give consumers the option to elect more sustainable energy solutions, deregulated markets give you control over your energy solutions. 

Since you are the consumer with a direct voice in your energy provider, deregulation allows commercial and residential energy consumers the power to choose “greener” energy solutions, such as solar, wind or geothermal energy (depending on the resources available in their geographic regions).

Driven by the demand for lower energy costs and greener solutions, energy choice programs are helping businesses meet and exceed their sustainability goals.

Choice Means Customized Solutions

When mobile and cellular phone technology improved, “land lines” became less necessary — even a landline is now frequently a digital service.

Energy technology is also evolving. Digital and remote regulation of commercial energy usage, smarter energy consumption technologies for everything from appliances to light bulbs, and onsite energy solutions such as solar rooftops, are changing the way that energy gets consumed.

Energy choice programs allow for the consumer to have a fully customized energy experience, with vendors who specialize in saving customers money.

Choice Means Better Customer Service

If there were only one clothing store or one grocery store, what would that mean for the level of customer service provided?

When the provider of a service is the only provider, there is very little incentive for excellence in customer care–even an unhappy customer cannot change where they shop. 

Such is the hazard of a monopoly.

In the United States, customer choice drives customer care.  If you do not like the produce at a grocery store, you can go elsewhere.  If you try to return an article of clothing and the store will not allow it, you can do your shopping at any number of competitors with more flexible return policies.

Customer choice for energy choice means that the service providers have an inherent reason for administering their very best care–if they do not, you can simply take your business elsewhere.

Choice Means Innovation

While the infrastructure of energy–the lines, pipes, etc–require maintenance, for the most part, they already exist.  Building a smarter power plant, such as a solar array, to provide the power along such infrastructure, is part of the innovation of the future.

Energy choice programs help drive innovation by putting consumers in the driver’s seat of their energy solutions.

Energy Professionals: Your Partners in Choice

At Energy Professionals, we provide complete energy management, partnering with you to obtain your ideal energy solutions.

Contact us to find out more about the energy choices available in your area.

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(My reports focus on Natural Gas as it is the largest energy source for the generation of Electricity; therefore, Natural Gas and Electricity are highly correlated.)

In my July 23rd Energy Update, I said very warm weather since the end of April inhibited rebuilding Natural Gas supplies. I estimated based on NOAA’s weather forecasts, supplies were expected to remain 516 Bcf below the 5-Yr. Avg, which was virtually where they were near the end of April and needed to increase weekly 43 Bcf more than the 5-Yr. Avg. from Aug 10th thru Nov 2nd to return to the 5-Yr. Avg., before the start of the winter heating season, which was a virtual impossibility.

But I did not anticipate the situation would worsen with supplies now projected to be 600 Bcf below the 5 Yr. Avg! Based on NOAA’s present weather forecasts below is an estimate of Natural Gas supplies from Aug 10th thru August 31st compared to the 5-Yr. Avg.:

As you can see below, the slower than expected growth in Natural Gas supplies over the last 3 weeks, triggered a rally in nearby Natural Gas prices:

Since July 23rd, the nearby contract of Natural Gas increased from $2.70 to $2.92 per MMbtu and based on present weather forecasts supplies are expected to remain 600 Bcf below the 5 Yr. Avg. until the end of August! This is unprecedented; therefore, the risk of higher prices continues to increase. But the good news is as I explained in my last 2 reports due to a market phenomenon called “Backwardation”, hedgers can secure rates below present levels in the forward market.

Below is a summary of the backwardation in Natural Gas:

Present   – $2.92 per MMbtu
Apr 2019 – $2.69 per MMbtu
Apr 2020 – $2.54 per MMbtu
Apr 2021 – $2.48 per MMbtu

The price of Natural Gas is lower in the forward markets, and although since July 23rd, the nearby contract increased 8% going from $2.70 to $2.92 per MMbtu, rates in the forward markets remain very attractive. They are lower than where they were nearly 95% of the time over the last 18 years. The old proverb, “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” is as true today as in the 16th century and hedgers will benefit by reserving rates longer-term while they are below nearby rates, and not delay hoping for lower rates in the future.

Conclusions:
 
This year’s extremely hot summer has resulted in very tight Natural Gas supplies, and although no one can absolutely predict the future, rates in the forward markets are lower than where they were nearly 95% of the time over the last 18 years and with supplies projected to remain 600 Bcf below the 5 Yr. Avg. until the end of August and stay far below normal as we start the winter heating season, we recommend hedgers secure rates now.

 Not every client’s risk tolerance and hedging strategy is the same, but we trust the above report will help you put into perspective the risk/reward opportunities now. I invite you to call one of our energy analysts to help you plan a hedging strategy appropriate for your situation.

 
Ray Franklin
North American Energy Advisory
Senior Commodity Analyst

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Energy choice programs are available in more than 20 states, with those numbers continuing to grow (even more for commercial than residential).  Those consumers choosing to take advantage of energy choice are saving hundreds of dollars over those who are not in the same states.  Yet many consumers still do not know what energy choice really means.

Here’s the information you need to understand deregulation and make smarter energy choices.

Deregulation Defined

Core to the principles of capitalism, the United States encourages healthy competition and opposes monopolies.  Antitrust laws in the US, as well as other regulation, are designed to prevent a single company or organization for owning an entire market (service or good).  That’s when deregulation sometimes occurs, such as in trucking, airlines, or telecommunications in the past.

So, in the name of healthy competition, many states have chosen to deregulate electrical energy, natural gas, or both.

Deregulation of the energy industry separated the utility and the supplier:

  • Utility – the infrastructure, including wires, poles, pipes, etc.
  • Supplier – the company selling the energy.

A “deregulated” market is also referred to as an “open” market.  In an open market, consumers are free to choose from the supplier that provides the pricing, incentives and other features most appealing to the consumer.

It’s a bit like shopping in a mall.  The utility is the mall structure itself, including the stores.  If you were shopping for clothes, because it is an open market, you are free to choose to purchase at the clothing store that best suits your needs.  If there were only one clothing store, at which everyone were required to choose their clothing, it would be a clothing monopoly.

Deregulation of the energy market lets you shop at different “stores,” to encourage competition among suppliers and let consumers make the choice that best suits their needs.

Reasons for Choosing

More competition means lower pricing, but only if you are looking for that lower pricing.  If consumers do not choose their energy provider, they still “default” to the earlier provider or a designated provider, which may not include the best pricing.  That’s another reason it’s important to understand energy choice–just because you can choose your energy provider, doesn’t mean that you have.

Sometimes better pricing is even available from the same provider, but if you have not asked you have not evaluated the pricing options available.

If you do choose a provider, you have the power to:

  • Choose the incentives and pricing that best suits your needs.
  • Choose the energy source, such as “greener” energy solutions.
  • Enjoy improved customer service, in many cases, since companies are competing for your business.

What’s more, energy choice in no way interrupts your servic, and frequently doesn’t even the look, frequency or setup of billing.

How to Choose Your Energy Provider

Energy choice is simple!  For residential consumers, you can search for energy providers in your state, and compare offers.  Compare pricing, incentives, but also other penalties or automatic pricing increases.  Then contact the energy provider of your choice.

For commercial consumers, there are energy brokering companies who specialize in assisting businesses to maximize the potential of energy choice programs. Working with a 3rd-party energy specialist, you have several added benefits:

  • Determining the best pricing for your needs, with an ally in your local market,
  • Making energy efficiency upgrades and solutions, potentially without installation or upgrade charges,
  • Managing billing, even if different utilities come from different companies, for improved accuracy and predictability,
  • And planning for smarter long-term energy uses, to meet cost and sustainability goals.

 

At Energy Professional,s we help manage your total energy solution, including the best choice for your business or home energy resourcing.  Contact us for a free quote.

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Choose Your Energy Supplier

Energy Professionals is committed to finding its customers the best possible rates on electricity and natural gas. Tell us your location and service type and our energy supply partners will provide you the most competitive offers.

Switching to an alternate supplier is easy. There is no chance of service disruption, and you'll continue with your current utility for energy delivery and emergency service. Take a few minutes to discover your best offers, and enjoy the benefits of retail energy in your home or business.

1. Energy Type

2. Service Type

3. Zip Code