Suffern NY, June 18, 2015

BOX had the privilege of attending the TEPA Northeast conference on June 17, 2015 in NYC at the historic New York Yacht Club (NYYC). For all of you who were not able to attend we wanted to share some of our thoughts, observations, and commentary.

If you have never been to NYYC, it really is a site to see. In fact it was It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The club is a six-storied Beaux-Arts landmark with a nautical-themed limestone facade, located on West 44th Street in midtown Manhattan. Opened in 1901, it was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the same architects of the exterior of Grand Central Terminal. The conference was held in the clubhouse centerpiece which is the “Model Room”, containing and surrounded by, a notable collection of full and half hull models, including a scale model history of all New York Yacht Club America’s Cup challenges. The environment certainly added an aura of purpose, membership, and constituency to the conference.

The conference was opened and closed by Javier Barrios, Pres. NE TEPA Chapter, who along with the other dedicated board members of the volunteer organization, provided compelling reasons and made a great impression about the importance of joining TEPA to achieve centralized communication & representation within the industry.

The first panel, Supplier & ABC Discussion, was moderated by Jim Moore, PhD: Pres., & CEO of Energy Research Council (ERC). The topic was the ERC Channel Partner Survey which was sponsored by Constellation Energy, Hudson Energy, & Direct Energy.

Some of the most interesting findings of the study include the following:
– Although 90% of ABC respondents said they maintain supplier relationships with more than 6 suppliers, 61% said most of their business is concentrated amongst a core subset of 3-6 suppliers.

– 77% of ABC respondents included speed & dependability as a contributing factor to supplier concentration, while 69% included pricing competitiveness as a factor.

– 71% of ABC respondents say they never use green initiatives as a factor to compare and contrast suppliers.

– ABC respondents reported that upon renewal, they change suppliers 60% of the time.

– While 65% of ABC’s responded that they actively provide other services in addition to energy procurement, only 18% of middle market companies said that they held additional services to be a primary value in working with an ABC.

– 81% of middle market companies say that comparing supplier pricing is the most important attribute in selecting a broker / consultant. The next most prominent attribute was ABC’s informing them about price and regulatory changes, at 73%.

Supplier representation on this panel included John Bennett: VP & GM NR Region, Constellation Energy, Jeremy Gosner: Mgr. – Commercial Sales, Hudson Energy, and Bryan Salinas: Key Partner Manager – PJM, GDF Suez NA.

These are some of the comments that stood out to us:

Bryan, as well as Partick O’Gara, Reg. Sales Mgr., NY/NE, GDF Suez Energy Resources NA, who had addressed the crowd earlier, both gave off the clear message that Suez is taking a fresh look at their business and making some significant changes in order to enhance customer & ABC experience. We find it unique and refreshing for a supplier with such a significant and well established market presence to have such a deep desire and commitment to change. We welcome and look forward to those changes.

One of the most insightful lines of the day came from John who said “When I woke up and found out that Direct Energy had acquired Hess, and we didn’t, that was a bad day. But had I woken up and found out that Google had acquired Hess, that would have been a nightmare”. We couldn’t agree more, development and activity that will enhance our industry needs to come from folks who live our industry and understand the challenges and opportunities faced by all sides of the retail energy equation. Some of us may be familiar with a certain online energy platform that was started by some energy professionals but was then acquired and is operated as a tech firm. While they may be achieving some market success, instead of working within Supplier processes and providing efficiency, they require that Suppliers conform to their standards, thereby creating more burden on Suppliers, not less.

Another profound line came from Jeremy who said “We look to the broker not through the broker”. The idea being, that instead of looking to circumvent the ABC, Hudson is looking to empower and strengthen the broker, so that the broker can provide more value, service, and expertise to the customer. Jeremy also expressed sentiment similar to Johns by explaining that the best way to move forward is for our industry to self-regulate and arrive at solutions, together, that can best serve the Customer, Supplier, & Broker. Of course we appreciate Jeremy’s shout out to “Benji @ Broker Online Exchange”.

All suppliers on the panel expressed that they want to do business with ABC’s if they are, Legitimate, Licensed in geographies that require such, and financially stable. They pointed out that if a customer ends up having a dispute with their ABC, that will usually ends up being the Suppliers problem.

The next panel was a discussion about technology.

The main discussions were about the importance and need to use data in a cohesive and meaningful manner. Bill Symans: Principal & Founder, Kloudheaven, described in an impressionable manner how when setting up electronic devices in his vacation home, the focus and expectation for different technologies to work together and play a meaningful role in daily living, was more significant than ever. The moderator, John Lembo, TRC Energy, pointed out that the advances made by wearable technologies especially, indicate how going forward, people’s expectations from technology is dramatically increasing.

To follow was a Regulatory & Legislative review presented in a clear and approachable manner by John Williams: Dir. of Policy & Regulatory Affairs, NYSERDA.

The final panel was a Market Drivers discussion:
The panel included John Berg: Sales manager, MidAtlantic C&I Sales, Direct Energy, Ranjan Ezra: Principal, Market Pricing & Structuring Commodities Mgmt. Group, Constellation Energy, and Eric Hansen: VP of Energy Supply, US Gas & Electric. They discussed the various bullish & bearish energy market factors, such as financial market liquidity, import / export trends, gas demand by generation facilities, and of course weather considerations that are in play and should be considered when forecasting where the market will go. All agreed that each geography has its unique characteristics and nuances that affect pricing and need to be considered in order to make intelligent and meaningful procurement decisions.

Everyone seemed to agree with Eric’s recommendation to “Go long on peak electric”.

The evening was rounded out by a cocktail reception on the beautiful terrace overlooking 44th street. Everyone enjoyed the drinks and refreshments sponsored by EC Infosystems.

Broker Online Exchange (BOX), is Deregulated Energy’s centralized exchange connecting Brokers & Suppliers. See the video at: