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Re: [hreg] FW: Your questions - comments

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  • James Ferrill
    Mike and gang, My Reliant electric bill came with a Electricity Facts Label that had this on it: This product Texas (for comparison) Coal 47.5% 38.1% Natural
    Message 1 of 12 , Oct 12, 2002
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      Mike and gang,

      My Reliant electric bill came with a Electricity Facts Label that had this on it:

                                 This product      Texas (for comparison)

      Coal                        47.5%                       38.1%
      Natural gas       41.8                        48.5%
      Nuclear            10.7                        10.9%
      Renewables                 0%                          0.7%
      Other fossil      0                           1.8%

      And at the left lower corner, it has this:

      Reliant Energy Residential Services (PUCT Certificate #10007) is not the same company as Reliant Energy HL&P and is not regulated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and you do not have to buy Reliant Energy Residential Services' products to continue to receive quality regulated services from Reliant Energy HL&P.

      Am I missing something? Those Texas (for comparison) numbers above are from 1998. Isn't that kinda useless? And renewables at 0% ? Aren't they supposed to have some renewables in the mix by now, according to SB7? And does that little blurb about not being regulated by the PUC mean that they don't have to follow the rules?

      Just wondering out loud.

      James Ferrill


      At 10:43 PM 10/12/2002, you wrote:
      Charlie & the rest of HREG,

      You have mentioned people questioning Green Mountain in the past so I asked
      your questions of a contact I have there.  Here is the reply.


      Hello Mike!
      > People are telling me that (GMEC) is selling more wind power than
      > is put on the grid.  Is that true?  How do we know?  -Charlie
      >
      [Stuart Blackwell]  Absolutely false.  This portion of our business is
      regulated
      and monitored.  First, the PUC requires all Retail Electric Providers (REP)
      to
      provide a standardized legally binding document, the Terms of Service, to
      all
      customers and we are legally bound by our claim of 100% wind power in this
      PUC approved document.  Secondly, we have to answer to the PUC monthly
      showing the amount of wind-produced electricity we purchase and the amount
      we are contractually required to provide our customers.  The PUC watches
      this closely and we would face dire consequences if our residential usage
      didn't match the amount of wind generation.
      Additionally, we are Green-e certified.  See:
      http://www.green-e.org/media_ed/tx_gme.html and
      http://www.green-e.org/what_is/standard/verification.html
      Lastly, if someone needs additional reassurance they should phone our
      Legal Counsel, John Gray, at our corporate headquarters in Austin.

      > ... Likewise the cost comparisons are confusing... Some curves would
      > be best, showing how Reliant and GM costs vary with usage from say
      > 500 to 1500 kWh per month. Tie it all up in a neat bundle and then we
      > could all forward it to every person and every list we are on.  -Charlie
      >
      [Stuart Blackwell]  We couldn't agree more.  And we are working hard to
      develop a comparison like the one Charlie recommends.
      You are already aware that we have flat rates.  Currently, they are $0.091
      and  $0.094 for month-to-month and our "Reliable Rate Plan," respectively.
      That means of course, that our pricing does not fluctuate based on season or
      usage.
      So, the difficulty in comparing costs lies in the rate plans of the other
      providers,
      not in our rate structure.  For example: historically, Reliant has had two
      different
      rate structures per year, one for summer and one for winter.  Additionally,
      historically, within those differing structures they have a 3-tiered pricing
      structure.
      Developing an PUC-approved, easy to understand comparison, that is fair and
      accurate is quite difficult when historically everyone else's pricing
      structure is
      essentially a moving target.  I believe that is why the PUC decided that
      uniform
      price comparison would be based on 1,000 kWh.

      Stuart Blackwell                                              Local mailing address:
      Houston Events Coordinator                          PO Box 441773
      Green Mountain Energy Company     Houston, TX 77244
      281.658.9812 voice                                   Local delivery address:
      281.496.2011 fax                                              1910 Westmead Dr, #4508
      Stuart.Blackwell@...        Houston, TX 77077
      Corporate Headquarters:
      3815 Capitol of Texas Hwy, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78704
      512.691.6100 voice        512.691.6151 fax

    • chasmauch@aol.com
      Mike, James, et al, It almost seems like they are trying to confuse us, and the more they clarify things the worse it gets. It s kind of like all the options
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
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        Mike, James, et al,

        It almost seems like they are trying to confuse us, and the more they "clarify" things the worse it gets. It's kind of like all the options you have for phone service. I am so confused about that I just stay with SW Bell - not even sure about that but I think that's who I'm with - and hell I'm an engineer so if I am confused I feel sure a lot of other people are too. It's just too hard and too confusing and too much trouble to try to do comparison shopping. I'm not even sure it can be done.

        It can't be that hard but I can't find any literature available from any of the service providers or any regulatory agency that makes it simple. If one Reliant something or other is different from the other Reliant something or other why are their names so similar? Was one a spin-off from the other? Why such similar names and then try to explain to us they are different? What is going on with that?

        And it's truly strange that between a third and a half of all the supplier's fuel (except GM) comes from coal. I think someone said Texas is a net importer of energy, and this is the reason. We don't export much (any?) but started bringing in huge amounts from Wyoming or somewhere up there back during the energy crunch when gas prices went through the roof. I think that had something to do with the bogus contracts Oscar Wyatt made with San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns and finally had to wiggle out of. It helps to have good lawyers. Or does some of that come from Texas lignite, a very inferior, low BTU, high pollutant, but cheap form of coal?

        The 10% nuclear from everyone (except GM) I will not even comment on.

        And I saw in the Chronicle yesterday that natural gas futures (almost half of everyone's fuel) went up Friday by 31.8 cents to $4.146 with the explanation given that a cold front is forecast to sweep into the Midwest this weekend. I wonder how high it will get this winter, and how that will affect everyone's price on the famous fuel cost pass-through adjustment or whatever they call it? Everyone but GM, that is.

        I just feel sure in my gut that GM is the way to go for all kinds of reasons, probably even including price if they could make their case in a logical form but no one seems to be able to do that. I have complained to several GM people I have met that they may need a really good PR firm to get this across to all us doofuses out here who can't seem to do it on our own. Or maybe that's the problem - they need to fire their PR guys and get some new ones that can think down here on my level. Whatever. It's all pretty irritating.
        Charlie
      • Ryan McMullan
        We are coming up on a year since deregulation of energy production in Texas, so probably the simplest, yet effective, comparison would be to show the monthly
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
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                   We are coming up on a year since deregulation of energy production in Texas, so probably the simplest, yet effective, comparison would be to show the monthly price for all of the providers for "x" kWh per month and the yearly price.  In fact, a marketing angle Green Mountain could use would be to show the cost per kWh for different companies, which jump around each month, and theirs, which stays the same.  Of course, the real test is going to be what the prices do over the next five years as companies can lower prices to initially get customers and present well on the www.powertochoose.org website.  Actually, looking closely at the figures on the website, which vary widely (from $0.08/kWh to $0.95/kWh), these are only estimates submitted by the companies for 1000kWh usage per month.  They are not actually a measurement of anything.
                   So lets get some real numbers together.  My historical data from Green Mountain since January is:
          MonthkWhCostCents/kWh
          Jan-02710$75.3410.6
          Feb-02520$56.4710.9
          Mar-02590$56.849.6
          Apr-02600$57.729.6
          May-021480$135.059.1
          Jun-021320$120.999.2
          Jul-021950$176.359.0
          Aug-022240$201.839.0
          Sep-022140$193.049.0

          How does this compare to others with Green Mountain or other providers?

          Ryan

          P.S.--Would it be handy to have one of the Green Mountain guys on this list?  Or the other companies for that matter?  We could extend them a conditional invitation, provided they don't send advertisements and the like.  We seem to be passing back and forth a lot of "I heard" information, so it might be handy to get some info from the sources (through a biased filter, of course, but we can adjust for that).

          At 08:24 AM 10/13/2002 -0400, you wrote:
          Mike, James, et al,

          It almost seems like they are trying to confuse us, and the more they "clarify" things the worse it gets. It's kind of like all the options you have for phone service. I am so confused about that I just stay with SW Bell - not even sure about that but I think that's who I'm with - and hell I'm an engineer so if I am confused I feel sure a lot of other people are too. It's just too hard and too confusing and too much trouble to try to do comparison shopping. I'm not even sure it can be done.

          It can't be that hard but I can't find any literature available from any of the service providers or any regulatory agency that makes it simple. If one Reliant something or other is different from the other Reliant something or other why are their names so similar? Was one a spin-off from the other? Why such similar names and then try to explain to us they are different? What is going on with that?

          And it's truly strange that between a third and a half of all the supplier's fuel (except GM) comes from coal. I think someone said Texas is a net importer of energy, and this is the reason. We don't export much (any?) but started bringing in huge amounts from Wyoming or somewhere up there back during the energy crunch when gas prices went through the roof. I think that had something to do with the bogus contracts Oscar Wyatt made with San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns and finally had to wiggle out of. It helps to have good lawyers. Or does some of that come from Texas lignite, a very inferior, low BTU, high pollutant, but cheap form of coal?

          The 10% nuclear from everyone (except GM) I will not even comment on.

          And I saw in the Chronicle yesterday that natural gas futures (almost half of everyone's fuel) went up Friday by 31.8 cents to $4.146 with the explanation given that a cold front is forecast to sweep into the Midwest this weekend. I wonder how high it will get this winter, and how that will affect everyone's price on the famous fuel cost pass-through adjustment or whatever they call it? Everyone but GM, that is.

          I just feel sure in my gut that GM is the way to go for all kinds of reasons, probably even including price if they could make their case in a logical form but no one seems to be able to do that. I have complained to several GM people I have met that they may need a really good PR firm to get this across to all us doofuses out here who can't seem to do it on our own. Or maybe that's the problem - they need to fire their PR guys and get some new ones that can think down here on my level. Whatever. It's all pretty irritating.
          Charlie

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        • Robert Johnston
          Couldn t agree more with Charlie on the confusion (I don t always agree with Charlie!). A couple thoughts. 1. I think the 2 Reliant Energy s are a result of
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
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            Couldn’t agree more with Charlie on the confusion (I don’t always agree with Charlie!).  A couple thoughts…

             

            1. I think the 2 Reliant Energy’s are a result of the separation of energy distribution (powerlines/residential services) and energy generation.  A bit of web searching shows that the confusion was just eliminated (or perhaps increased?!) on Oct. 1, 2002.  On that date, Reliant Energy HL&P (the residential distribution service for the Houston area) became CenterPoint Energy.  The power generation service or redistributor (and retail electric provider) is Reliant Energy; it has both business and residential customers, and the residential customers are served via Reliant Energy Residential Services.  Reliant Energy will be distributing its power in Houston through CenterPoint Energy.  I “THINK” that is right, based on a quick read.  But you may wish to research this on your own.  The curious can find a complete timeline history of CenterPoint Energy at http://www.centerpointenergy.com/about/overview/1,2776,100431,00.html.  The PUC website also has information.

             

            1. On a related note, I wouldn’t be concerned about it being unregulated.  That doesn’t mean it is free of government rules.  It just means that, like Green Mountain and every other retail electric provider (REP), it is free to set pricing in its own competitive fashion.  Its prices are not regulated by the PUC.  That is the whole point of deregulation, and that is in part why Reliant Energy split up into the two companies, so that it could participate in the deregulated market.  Again, I’m not an expert in this field, but offering comments based on what I’ve read.

             

            1. I agree with Charlie that the labeling and data are confusing.  Fortunately, it isn’t quite as bad as shopping for cell phone service—that has to be about the worst!  (Since not only is it tough to compare pricing/plans, but you also have no data on how well a particular company provides service in your area or areas of travel [real vs. advertised coverage], or how well a particular model phone receives in those areas [I’ve found that phone models make a huge difference even with the same carrier]).

             

            Regarding shopping for electricity, however, I agree that the comparisons at PowerToChoose are only a poor starting point, though better than nothing.  You really have to follow the links to each company’s website and drill-down for details if you want even a sense of what the real cost to you will be.  I think one of the key comparisons missing is whether the company has a fixed rate or an adjustable rate, and for those with adjustable rates, what the expected seasonal fluctuation can be (based on history).  And those with monthly base service charges really cry out for comparison at multiple use levels, as has been pointed out already, since the monthly charge may be a large percentage of the overall bill for small volume consumers but not for large volume consumers.  In my own case, I have had good success thus far.  I chose NewPower during the pilot program.  They offered free electricity in Decembers if one signed up for the fixed rate plan.  They went bankrupt this summer and my service rolled over to TXU.  In the process I didn’t get billed for the last month, which suits me fine, since I wouldn’t be getting the free December.  I have now switched to FirstChoice.  They offer a very competitive rate plan at a fixed rate (e.g., rate won’t go up anytime soon).

             

            I think that Green Mountain needs to find a way to be price competitive with the other services.  For now, it probably makes sense for them to skim profits off the more altruistic customers like Charlie, but to capture my business, they need to be competitive.  My guess is that they don’t want to be price competitive because then they’d get more business than they have capacity for.  So if they are a reputable company here for the longhaul, they’ll be plowing the profits from Charlie et al. back into the business in the form of capital to expand their generating capacity and then lowering prices to expand market share.  If they are only interested in skimming easy money from the likes of Charlie, and not truly expanding the renewables market quickly, then I doubt we’ll see competitive pricing anytime soon.

             

            I think it would be interesting if a renewable energy cooperative formed that would offer service to retail customers at pricing perhaps like GM, but with the profit being in the form of accumulated shares.  In other words, instead of Charlie’s excess profit contribution going to shareholders somewhere, it goes into an ownership share for him.  If the base price (after subtracting this capitalization charge) were competitive with the other REP’s, then I should think more customers would jump at renewables.  I would support and applaud any company that offered me competitive pricing, and at the same time had the goal of expanding renewables as rapidly as possible.  I’d be willing to help capitalize such a business through higher prices provided I became a partial owner.

             

            One other comment on Green Mountain…  I think that they would capture more customers even at the higher prices, if they guaranteed that they wouldn’t track rising conventional energy prices with theirs.  I think their current pricing is based on trying to be premium-priced relative to conventional power generators.  Since if they are 100% renewables based, they are immune to rising oil/gas prices, they should offer consumers a plan with assurance that even if conventional pricing doubles, theirs will stay the same.  I don’t think even their “fixed rate” plan offers that right now, since it has a short term associated with it.  This undermines the incentive for consumers to make a bet on renewables at what are presently premium prices.  In particular, imagine a scenario like this:  Green Mountain says that you can lock onto the current rates for life, or as long as you stay a Green Mountain customer.  If rates decrease in the future due to technology improvements and economies of scale, you will be able to adjust your locked rate downward.  BUT, if you wait, and if rates go up, then you won’t be able to get these attractive rates in the future.  In other words, if they guaranteed current rates for life, and if you were planning to be in the GM service area for a long time, you might be willing to pay premium rates today to guarantee those rates far into the future, making the bet that this will look really good 5-10 years from now when conventional sources have perhaps increased in cost significantly.

             

            My 2 cents…

             

            Robert Johnston

             

             

            -----Original Message-----
            From: chasmauch@... [mailto:chasmauch@...]
            Sent: Sunday, October 13, 2002 7:25 AM
            To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [hreg] FW: Your questions - comments

             

            Mike, James, et al,

            It almost seems like they are trying to confuse us, and the more they "clarify" things the worse it gets. It's kind of like all the options you have for phone service. I am so confused about that I just stay with SW Bell - not even sure about that but I think that's who I'm with - and hell I'm an engineer so if I am confused I feel sure a lot of other people are too. It's just too hard and too confusing and too much trouble to try to do comparison shopping. I'm not even sure it can be done.

            It can't be that hard but I can't find any literature available from any of the service providers or any regulatory agency that makes it simple. If one Reliant something or other is different from the other Reliant something or other why are their names so similar? Was one a spin-off from the other? Why such similar names and then try to explain to us they are different? What is going on with that?

            And it's truly strange that between a third and a half of all the supplier's fuel (except GM) comes from coal. I think someone said Texas is a net importer of energy, and this is the reason. We don't export much (any?) but started bringing in huge amounts from Wyoming or somewhere up there back during the energy crunch when gas prices went through the roof. I think that had something to do with the bogus contracts Oscar Wyatt made with San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns and finally had to wiggle out of. It helps to have good lawyers. Or does some of that come from Texas lignite, a very inferior, low BTU, high pollutant, but cheap form of coal?

            The 10% nuclear from everyone (except GM) I will not even comment on.

            And I saw in the Chronicle yesterday that natural gas futures (almost half of everyone's fuel) went up Friday by 31.8 cents to $4.146 with the explanation given that a cold front is forecast to sweep into the Midwest this weekend. I wonder how high it will get this winter, and how that will affect everyone's price on the famous fuel cost pass-through adjustment or whatever they call it? Everyone but GM, that is.

            I just feel sure in my gut that GM is the way to go for all kinds of reasons, probably even including price if they could make their case in a logical form but no one seems to be able to do that. I have complained to several GM people I have met that they may need a really good PR firm to get this across to all us doofuses out here who can't seem to do it on our own. Or maybe that's the problem - they need to fire their PR guys and get some new ones that can think down here on my level. Whatever. It's all pretty irritating.
            Charlie



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          • Mike Ewert
            Up Provider Offer Cost Per Month Save First Year Min. Term (Mo.) Eco Info Facts Label and Terms Average Price per kWh (1000 kWh) YOUR AFFILIATE REP IS:
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
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              Up
              Provider OfferCost Per Month Save First Year Min. Term (Mo.)Eco InfoFacts Label and Terms Average Price per kWh (1000 kWh)
              YOUR AFFILIATE REP IS:
              Reliant Energy
              Price to Beat
              $9101 This is the basis for comparison.
              $0.091/kWh
              Sign upGreenMountain Energy Company
              Green Mountain Energysm
              $92-1%1Check
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.092/kWh
              Sign upUtility Choice Electric
              Electricity
              $839%12 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.083/kWh
              Sign upEntergy Solutions Ltd.
              Sweet Solutions Plan
              $8012%1 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.08/kWh
              Sign upGexa Energy Corp
              Power Plan
              $8012%1 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.08/kWh
              Sign upEnergy America
              Electricity
              $892%36 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.089/kWh
              Sign upFirst Choice Power, Inc.
              Easy Price Plan
              $8210%1 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.082/kWh
              Sign upTXU Energy
              Electricity
              $848%1 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.084/kWh
              Sign upACN Energy, Inc.
              Electricity
              $910%1 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.09146/kWh
              Sign upGreenMountain Energy Company
              Reliable Rate Plan
              $95-4%12Check
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.095/kWh
              Sign upReliant Energy
              Price to Beat
              $910%1 
              Electricity Facts Label and Terms of Service
              $0.091/kWh
              If you have questions about how to choose a Retail Electric Provider, please call toll-free 1-866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839). For questions about a particular REP's offer or pricing, please contact that REP directly.

              I've copied the comparison for my zip code from www.powertochoose.com

              I don't know if it will show up properly on everyone's e-mail.  But it looks like Robert is saving 11% compared to Green Mountain if he is using 1000kWh/month.  What do your bills say, Robert?

              The savings may be less if usage is greater, especially during the summer, when some companies charge more.

              Here is my actual data before and after Green Mountain:

              Reliant:

              Month                kWh        cost($)

              Oct-001656134.82
              Nov-001254118.82
              Dec-001538141.82
              Jan-011103106.61
              Feb-011051102.40
              Mar-011182113.00
              Apr-011548174.62
              May-011933219.72
              Jun-012009228.63
              Jul-012521273.14
              Aug-012046220.40
              Sep-011805193.64
              Oct-011050102.32
              Green Mount
              1025107.51
              Dec-011243129.30
              Jan-021040114.42
              Feb-0298998.22
              Mar-021152110.17
              Apr-021429132.27
              May-021953178.77
              Jun-022549227.12
              Jul-022706240.78
              Aug-022508223.15
              Sep-022070185.45

              If you do the math, for the same 11 months of the year where I have data, my average cost was

              10.4 cents/kWh with Reliant

              9.6 cents/kWh with Green Mountain (this includes the time before I called to request the 8.7 cent rate they were advertising thanks to Charlie [it pays to be a member of HREG!]

              I am now paying 8.9 cents/kWh for the past few months including taxes and service charge.

              Of course the environmentalists wish the the economic and public health costs of pollution were added to this - which would add a few cents/kWh to Reliant (CenterPoint) and the rest (except Green Mountain).  But they're not.

              So, everyone get out there and make your choice!

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Robert Johnston [mailto:rjohnsto@...]
              Sent: Sunday, October 13, 2002 2:20 PM
              To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [hreg] FW: Your questions - comments

              Couldn’t agree more with Charlie on the confusion (I don’t always agree with Charlie!).  A couple thoughts…

               

              1. I think the 2 Reliant Energy’s are a result of the separation of energy distribution (powerlines/residential services) and energy generation.  A bit of web searching shows that the confusion was just eliminated (or perhaps increased?!) on Oct. 1, 2002.  On that date, Reliant Energy HL&P (the residential distribution service for the Houston area) became CenterPoint Energy.  The power generation service or redistributor (and retail electric provider) is Reliant Energy; it has both business and residential customers, and the residential customers are served via Reliant Energy Residential Services.  Reliant Energy will be distributing its power in Houston through CenterPoint Energy.  I “THINK” that is right, based on a quick read.  But you may wish to research this on your own.  The curious can find a complete timeline history of CenterPoint Energy at http://www.centerpointenergy.com/about/overview/1,2776,100431,00.html.  The PUC website also has information.

               

              1. On a related note, I wouldn’t be concerned about it being unregulated.  That doesn’t mean it is free of government rules.  It just means that, like Green Mountain and every other retail electric provider (REP), it is free to set pricing in its own competitive fashion.  Its prices are not regulated by the PUC.  That is the whole point of deregulation, and that is in part why Reliant Energy split up into the two companies, so that it could participate in the deregulated market.  Again, I’m not an expert in this field, but offering comments based on what I’ve read.

               

              1. I agree with Charlie that the labeling and data are confusing.  Fortunately, it isn’t quite as bad as shopping for cell phone service—that has to be about the worst!  (Since not only is it tough to compare pricing/plans, but you also have no data on how well a particular company provides service in your area or areas of travel [real vs. advertised coverage], or how well a particular model phone receives in those areas [I’ve found that phone models make a huge difference even with the same carrier]).

               

              Regarding shopping for electricity, however, I agree that the comparisons at PowerToChoose are only a poor starting point, though better than nothing.  You really have to follow the links to each company’s website and drill-down for details if you want even a sense of what the real cost to you will be.  I think one of the key comparisons missing is whether the company has a fixed rate or an adjustable rate, and for those with adjustable rates, what the expected seasonal fluctuation can be (based on history).  And those with monthly base service charges really cry out for comparison at multiple use levels, as has been pointed out already, since the monthly charge may be a large percentage of the overall bill for small volume consumers but not for large volume consumers.  In my own case, I have had good success thus far.  I chose NewPower during the pilot program.  They offered free electricity in Decembers if one signed up for the fixed rate plan.  They went bankrupt this summer and my service rolled over to TXU.  In the process I didn’t get billed for the last month, which suits me fine, since I wouldn’t be getting the free December.  I have now switched to FirstChoice.  They offer a very competitive rate plan at a fixed rate (e.g., rate won’t go up anytime soon).

               

              I think that Green Mountain needs to find a way to be price competitive with the other services.  For now, it probably makes sense for them to skim profits off the more altruistic customers like Charlie, but to capture my business, they need to be competitive.  My guess is that they don’t want to be price competitive because then they’d get more business than they have capacity for.  So if they are a reputable company here for the longhaul, they’ll be plowing the profits from Charlie et al. back into the business in the form of capital to expand their generating capacity and then lowering prices to expand market share.  If they are only interested in skimming easy money from the likes of Charlie, and not truly expanding the renewables market quickly, then I doubt we’ll see competitive pricing anytime soon.

               

              I think it would be interesting if a renewable energy cooperative formed that would offer service to retail customers at pricing perhaps like GM, but with the profit being in the form of accumulated shares.  In other words, instead of Charlie’s excess profit contribution going to shareholders somewhere, it goes into an ownership share for him.  If the base price (after subtracting this capitalization charge) were competitive with the other REP’s, then I should think more customers would jump at renewables.  I would support and applaud any company that offered me competitive pricing, and at the same time had the goal of expanding renewables as rapidly as possible.  I’d be willing to help capitalize such a business through higher prices provided I became a partial owner.

               

              One other comment on Green Mountain…  I think that they would capture more customers even at the higher prices, if they guaranteed that they wouldn’t track rising conventional energy prices with theirs.  I think their current pricing is based on trying to be premium-priced relative to conventional power generators.  Since if they are 100% renewables based, they are immune to rising oil/gas prices, they should offer consumers a plan with assurance that even if conventional pricing doubles, theirs will stay the same.  I don’t think even their “fixed rate” plan offers that right now, since it has a short term associated with it.  This undermines the incentive for consumers to make a bet on renewables at what are presently premium prices.  In particular, imagine a scenario like this:  Green Mountain says that you can lock onto the current rates for life, or as long as you stay a Green Mountain customer.  If rates decrease in the future due to technology improvements and economies of scale, you will be able to adjust your locked rate downward.  BUT, if you wait, and if rates go up, then you won’t be able to get these attractive rates in the future.  In other words, if they guaranteed current rates for life, and if you were planning to be in the GM service area for a long time, you might be willing to pay premium rates today to guarantee those rates far into the future, making the bet that this will look really good 5-10 years from now when conventional sources have perhaps increased in cost significantly.

               

              My 2 cents…

               

              Robert Johnston

               

               

              -----Original Message-----
              From: chasmauch@... [mailto:chasmauch@...]
              Sent: Sunday, October 13, 2002 7:25 AM
              To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [hreg] FW: Your questions - comments

               

              Mike, James, et al,

              It almost seems like they are trying to confuse us, and the more they "clarify" things the worse it gets. It's kind of like all the options you have for phone service. I am so confused about that I just stay with SW Bell - not even sure about that but I think that's who I'm with - and hell I'm an engineer so if I am confused I feel sure a lot of other people are too. It's just too hard and too confusing and too much trouble to try to do comparison shopping. I'm not even sure it can be done.

              It can't be that hard but I can't find any literature available from any of the service providers or any regulatory agency that makes it simple. If one Reliant something or other is different from the other Reliant something or other why are their names so similar? Was one a spin-off from the other? Why such similar names and then try to explain to us they are different? What is going on with that?

              And it's truly strange that between a third and a half of all the supplier's fuel (except GM) comes from coal. I think someone said Texas is a net importer of energy, and this is the reason. We don't export much (any?) but started bringing in huge amounts from Wyoming or somewhere up there back during the energy crunch when gas prices went through the roof. I think that had something to do with the bogus contracts Oscar Wyatt made with San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns and finally had to wiggle out of. It helps to have good lawyers. Or does some of that come from Texas lignite, a very inferior, low BTU, high pollutant, but cheap form of coal?

              The 10% nuclear from everyone (except GM) I will not even comment on.

              And I saw in the Chronicle yesterday that natural gas futures (almost half of everyone's fuel) went up Friday by 31.8 cents to $4.146 with the explanation given that a cold front is forecast to sweep into the Midwest this weekend. I wonder how high it will get this winter, and how that will affect everyone's price on the famous fuel cost pass-through adjustment or whatever they call it? Everyone but GM, that is.

              I just feel sure in my gut that GM is the way to go for all kinds of reasons, probably even including price if they could make their case in a logical form but no one seems to be able to do that. I have complained to several GM people I have met that they may need a really good PR firm to get this across to all us doofuses out here who can't seem to do it on our own. Or maybe that's the problem - they need to fire their PR guys and get some new ones that can think down here on my level. Whatever. It's all pretty irritating.
              Charlie



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            • Robert Johnston
              I don t know if it will show up properly on everyone s e-mail. But it looks like Robert is saving 11% compared to Green Mountain if he is using 1000kWh/month.
              Message 6 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
              • 0 Attachment

                I don't know if it will show up properly on everyone's e-mail.  But it looks like Robert is saving 11% compared to Green Mountain if he is using 1000kWh/month.  What do your bills say, Robert?

                I don’t know about comparisons with Green Mountain, other than what I see at Powertochoose, and I haven’t even gotten my first bill yet from FirstChoice (as I said, I came out smelling like a rose on the deal with NewPower, thanks to their bankruptcy and service incompetence, so can’t provide direct comparisons from my own experience).  But the plan I signed up for with FirstChoice  is a fixed rate until January 2004, at 7.7 cents/kwh, plus $4.95/mo service charge.  If you are doing 1500 kwh/mo, then that would be 8.0 cents/kwh.  If you are doing more, as I am on average (my house isn’t the most efficient), then the cost is even less than 8.0 cents/kwh.  I figured with a fixed rate through 1/04, and with no switching penalty, I couldn’t go wrong.

                Robert

                 

              • Charles L. Seaman
                Date kwh Cents/kwh 1/16/02 510 9.15 3/15/02 510 8.11 4/15/02 500 8.09 5/15/02 720 8.48 6/13/02 880
                Message 7 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  Date kwh Cents/kwh
                  1/16/02 510 9.15
                  3/15/02 510 8.11
                  4/15/02 500 8.09
                  5/15/02 720 8.48
                  6/13/02 880 8.64
                  7/16/02 1330 8.89
                  8/13/02 1390 8.91
                  Reliant Energy HL&P (Now Centerpoint)


                  ----------
                  >From: Ryan McMullan <mcmullan@...>
                  >To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
                  >Subject: Re: [hreg] Your questions - comments
                  >Date: Sun, Oct 13, 2002, 11:15 AM
                  >

                  > We are coming up on a year since deregulation of energy production
                  > in Texas, so probably the simplest, yet effective, comparison would be to
                  > show the monthly price for all of the providers for "x" kWh per month and
                  > the yearly price. In fact, a marketing angle Green Mountain could use
                  > would be to show the cost per kWh for different companies, which jump
                  > around each month, and theirs, which stays the same. Of course, the real
                  > test is going to be what the prices do over the next five years as
                  > companies can lower prices to initially get customers and present well on
                  > the www.powertochoose.org website. Actually, looking closely at the
                  > figures on the website, which vary widely (from $0.08/kWh to $0.95/kWh),
                  > these are only estimates submitted by the companies for 1000kWh usage per
                  > month. They are not actually a measurement of anything.
                  > So lets get some real numbers together. My historical data from
                  > Green Mountain since January is:
                  > MonthkWhCostCents/kWh
                  > Jan-02710$75.3410.6
                  > Feb-02520$56.4710.9
                  > Mar-02590$56.849.6
                  > Apr-02600$57.729.6
                  > May-021480$135.059.1
                  > Jun-021320$120.999.2
                  > Jul-021950$176.359.0
                  > Aug-022240$201.839.0
                  > Sep-022140$193.049.0
                  >
                  > How does this compare to others with Green Mountain or other providers?
                  >
                  > Ryan
                  >
                  > P.S.--Would it be handy to have one of the Green Mountain guys on this
                  > list? Or the other companies for that matter? We could extend them a
                  > conditional invitation, provided they don't send advertisements and the
                  > like. We seem to be passing back and forth a lot of "I heard" information,
                  > so it might be handy to get some info from the sources (through a biased
                  > filter, of course, but we can adjust for that).
                  >
                  > At 08:24 AM 10/13/2002 -0400, you wrote:
                  >>Mike, James, et al,
                  >>
                  >>It almost seems like they are trying to confuse us, and the more they
                  >>"clarify" things the worse it gets. It's kind of like all the options you
                  >>have for phone service. I am so confused about that I just stay with SW
                  >>Bell - not even sure about that but I think that's who I'm with - and hell
                  >>I'm an engineer so if I am confused I feel sure a lot of other people are
                  >>too. It's just too hard and too confusing and too much trouble to try to
                  >>do comparison shopping. I'm not even sure it can be done.
                  >>
                  >>It can't be that hard but I can't find any literature available from any
                  >>of the service providers or any regulatory agency that makes it simple. If
                  >>one Reliant something or other is different from the other Reliant
                  >>something or other why are their names so similar? Was one a spin-off from
                  >>the other? Why such similar names and then try to explain to us they are
                  >>different? What is going on with that?
                  >>
                  >>And it's truly strange that between a third and a half of all the
                  >>supplier's fuel (except GM) comes from coal. I think someone said Texas is
                  >>a net importer of energy, and this is the reason. We don't export much
                  >>(any?) but started bringing in huge amounts from Wyoming or somewhere up
                  >>there back during the energy crunch when gas prices went through the roof.
                  >>I think that had something to do with the bogus contracts Oscar Wyatt made
                  >>with San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns and finally had to
                  >>wiggle out of. It helps to have good lawyers. Or does some of that come
                  >>from Texas lignite, a very inferior, low BTU, high pollutant, but cheap
                  >>form of coal?
                  >>
                  >>The 10% nuclear from everyone (except GM) I will not even comment on.
                  >>
                  >>And I saw in the Chronicle yesterday that natural gas futures (almost half
                  >>of everyone's fuel) went up Friday by 31.8 cents to $4.146 with the
                  >>explanation given that a cold front is forecast to sweep into the Midwest
                  >>this weekend. I wonder how high it will get this winter, and how that will
                  >>affect everyone's price on the famous fuel cost pass-through adjustment or
                  >>whatever they call it? Everyone but GM, that is.
                  >>
                  >>I just feel sure in my gut that GM is the way to go for all kinds of
                  >>reasons, probably even including price if they could make their case in a
                  >>logical form but no one seems to be able to do that. I have complained to
                  >>several GM people I have met that they may need a really good PR firm to
                  >>get this across to all us doofuses out here who can't seem to do it on our
                  >>own. Or maybe that's the problem - they need to fire their PR guys and get
                  >>some new ones that can think down here on my level. Whatever. It's all
                  >>pretty irritating.
                  >>Charlie
                  >>
                  >>Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
                  >>ADVERTISEMENT
                  >><http://rd.yahoo.com/M=212804.2460941.3878106.2225242/D=egroupweb/S=1705064177
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                  >>Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
                  >><http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/>Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                  >
                • Chase_05@webtv.net
                  QUIT SENDIN ME ALL THIS SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!! Image by FlamingText.com
                  Message 8 of 12 , Oct 13, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                  • mark r. johnson
                    ... jump ... Little problem here. The rates for MOST non-Reliant suppliers will be equally stable as Green Mountain Energy (GME). Commonsense in marketing is
                    Message 9 of 12 , Oct 14, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- In hreg@y..., Ryan McMullan <mcmullan@r...> wrote:
                      > ... marketing angle Green Mountain could use
                      > would be to show the cost per kWh for different companies, which
                      jump
                      > around each month, and theirs, which stays the same.

                      Little problem here. The rates for MOST non-Reliant suppliers will be
                      equally stable as Green Mountain Energy (GME). Commonsense in
                      marketing is one reason -- you can sell something better if it's not
                      confusing.

                      Reliant (oops, Centerpoint (CP)) on the other hand, has inherited a
                      rate structure from the old regulated days and cannot change. It
                      includes some social engineering aspects such as a lower rate for the
                      1st 250kwh block, so as to provide some small subsidy for poor people
                      (however for public speaking they may claim another reason). It
                      includes a higher rate in summer than winter for amounts above 800kwh,
                      that pretty realistically reflects the costs of generation. Plus, it
                      offers some price break for those unwise customers who rely on
                      electric resistance heating -- the most expensive to run and the
                      cheapest to build.

                      For what it's worth, the wording of Reliant's rates a few years back
                      went like this:

                      1) FACILITIES CHARGE -- $6.33/month
                      2) ENERGY CHARGE -- $.022500 per kwh for the first 250 kwh,
                      plus $.076518 per kwh for all additional kwh
                      except that kwh usage in excess of 800 kwh in the billing months
                      of November through April will be billed at $.044552 per kwh.
                      3) FUEL CHARGE -- Amount determined by PUC and based on fuel costs,
                      mainly natural gas. I looked at my bills from 1993 and 1999, the fuel
                      charge hovers around $.02 per kwh. I once wrote a computer program
                      that calculated the bills exactly. And yes in case you were wondering,
                      I used to work in HL&P, ten years in the very department responsible
                      for negotiating rates (early on I switched my supplier to New Power,
                      and when that folded I went to Green Mountain Energy).

                      Add them all together and you arrive at your price which is
                      approximately 9-1/2 cents per kwh for most months. Remember nearly
                      everyone will be paying bigger bills in the summer due to air
                      conditioning, so the lower price levels (and the $6.33 customer
                      charge) will get very diluted most of the time.


                      > Of course, the real
                      > test is going to be what the prices do over the next five years
                      as...

                      Very true. You did not say this, but also over that time period we
                      will finally stop paying the "stranded cost" kwh charge that goes to
                      pay for South Texas Nuclear and a few other high-cost plant decisions.
                      It's frustrating to wait, but only then will we really know what it's
                      like to live and pay under deregulation.


                      > these are only estimates submitted by the companies for 1000kWh
                      usage per
                      > month. They are not actually a measurement of anything.

                      Actually they probably chose 1000 kwh/month because the average
                      Houston area usage is 12,000 kwh/year. It's not as arbitrary as it
                      looks, although the average home will have summer months maybe triple
                      the usage of mild months. They are trying to keep their explanation
                      simple.

                      > So lets get some real numbers together. My historical data from
                      > Green Mountain since January is:
                      > MonthkWhCostCents/kWh
                      > Jan-02710 $75.34 10.6
                      > Feb-02520 $56.47 10.9
                      > Mar-02590 $56.84 9.6
                      > Apr-02600 $57.72 9.6
                      > May-021480 $135.05 9.1
                      > Jun-021320 $120.99 9.2
                      > Jul-021950 $176.35 9.0
                      > Aug-022240 $201.83 9.0
                      > Sep-022140 $193.04 9.0
                      >
                      > How does this compare to others with Green Mountain or other
                      providers?

                      Ryan, your total billing looks pretty average but I think there is
                      something wrong with your reading of kwh. It just doesn't seem likely
                      that you used 2520 kwh in your lowest month and then paid $57 billing.
                      More probable you actually used 518 kwh, that's pretty mainstream.
                      Similarly, your dollar billing suggests your peak month usage was
                      about 2245 kwh. The kwh numbers you posted got changed to something
                      very atypical -- like about 10X too large for the billing in the
                      May-Sep months.

                      I apologize for the complexity of what I said. It just is inherently a
                      very complex subject under the old fashioned system, however a few
                      simple (and sometimes subtle) principles account for most of it.

                      Hope this helps -- Mark J.
                    • chasmauch@aol.com
                      More on Robert s comments (sorry to let it pass so long but been real busy - only 18 days until election day). I think that Green Mountain needs to find a way
                      Message 10 of 12 , Oct 17, 2002
                      • 0 Attachment
                        More on Robert's comments (sorry to let it pass so long but been real busy - only 18 days until election day).

                        I think that Green Mountain needs to find a way to be price competitive with the other services.  For now, it probably makes sense for them to skim profits off the more altruistic customers like Charlie, but to capture my business, they need to be competitive.  My guess is that they don’t want to be price competitive because then they’d get more business than they have capacity for.  So if they are a reputable company here for the longhaul, they’ll be plowing the profits from Charlie et al. back into the business in the form of capital to expand their generating capacity and then lowering prices to expand market share.  If they are only interested in skimming easy money from the likes of Charlie, and not truly expanding the renewables market quickly, then I doubt we’ll see competitive pricing anytime soon.


                        I detect a strong note of superiority and condescension here - that unrealistic, soft-headed tree huggers "the likes of Charlie" are willing to be ripped off by GM but hardheaded businessmen like Robert are not so easily taken in and demand the cheapest price the market can deliver. I suspect we have here a great believer in "free enterprise" and "free markets" who has faith in the ability of the invisible hand to guide us all to an unregulated nirvana. It is strange how deregulation usually seems to lead to incomprehensible situations such as the previously mentioned phone companies, cell phones, absurd pricing on airline tickets, savings and loan fiascoes, wild and senseless peaks and valleys in oil prices, and a long list of other areas where a bit of regulation lends some sanity to an otherwise incredibly complicated and often criminal situation such as Enron and its ilk. It's true some of us are willing to pay a slight premium, at least in the beginning, to encourage the startup of a renewable industry where none exists at present, but how is that different from contributing to any other worthy cause? Surely even free maketeers have some things they are willing to support even if they are not totally "competitive". If it develops that when oil prices go up GM raises its prices too and engages in an obvious rip-off then that will soon become apparent to everyone and if the free market works as some think it should, their windfall profits will soon be undercut by more reputable providers. But they are the only game in town at present, and market analysts who keep track of such things will be looking to see if the public supports the concept. If not it will be like seat belts - take years to be accepted (and may never be accepted on a straight market basis) because no one was willing to buy them and most thought they were a nuisance.


                        I think it would be interesting if a renewable energy cooperative formed that would
                        offer service to retail customers at pricing perhaps like GM, but with the profit being in the form of accumulated shares.  In other words, instead of Charlie’s excess profit contribution going to shareholders somewhere, it goes into an ownership share for him.  If the base price (after subtracting this capitalization charge) were competitive with the other REP’s, then I should think more customers would jump at renewables.  I would support and applaud any company that offered me competitive pricing, and at the same time had the goal of expanding renewables as rapidly as possible.  I’d be willing to help capitalize such a business through higher prices provided I became a partial owner.


                        Of course it would be great if every industry would set up some kind of cooperative so that its profits were plowed back to its customers
                        but I don't think that is the way most free markets work so why should this one? Who would provide the initial startup and operating capital? Sounds like we are looking for some soft-headed philanthropists here. I suspect GM is strictly in it for a profit, not because they are such good guys. But that is true of most businesses.

                        Just my 1 cent change from Robert's 2 cents worth.
                        Charlie
                      • Robert Johnston
                        Sorry, Charlie.I wasn t at all trying to sound superior or condescending; I certainly wasn t feeling that way. It was actually a complement to your adherence
                        Message 11 of 12 , Oct 18, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment

                          Sorry, Charlie…I wasn’t at all trying to sound superior or condescending; I certainly wasn’t feeling that way.  It was actually a complement to your adherence to your principles and vision.  We both are interested in renewable energy or we wouldn’t belong to HREG.  I think our political philosophies, particularly as they relate to large corporations, differ significantly.  But I respect you for following through on your principles.  The fact that you are willing to spend a small premium to support renewable energy is laudable, and I didn’t mean to imply that you were a sucker, but rather that you were true to your principles and were willing to be generous in that regard.  In my case, even though I would favor wind energy, I am not as committed to it as you are, at least to the extent of spending extra money for it.  So, if anything, I think my post on this forum was likely to be taken as a complement to you and a putdown for me.  At least that’s how I thought it would be perceived, but I guess I didn’t think right.  Wouldn’t be the first time, and won’t be the last…

                           

                          Robert

                           

                           

                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: chasmauch@... [mailto:chasmauch@...]
                          Sent: Friday, October 18, 2002 12:25 AM
                          To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [hreg] FW: Your questions - comments

                           

                          More on Robert's comments (sorry to let it pass so long but been real busy - only 18 days until election day).

                          I think that Green Mountain needs to find a way to be price competitive with the other services.  For now, it probably makes sense for them to skim profits off the more altruistic customers like Charlie, but to capture my business, they need to be competitive.  My guess is that they don’t want to be price competitive because then they’d get more business than they have capacity for.  So if they are a reputable company here for the longhaul, they’ll be plowing the profits from Charlie et al. back into the business in the form of capital to expand their generating capacity and then lowering prices to expand market share.  If they are only interested in skimming easy money from the likes of Charlie, and not truly expanding the renewables market quickly, then I doubt we’ll see competitive pricing anytime soon.


                          I detect a strong note of superiority and condescension here - that unrealistic, soft-headed tree huggers "the likes of Charlie" are willing to be ripped off by GM but hardheaded businessmen like Robert are not so easily taken in and demand the cheapest price the market can deliver. I suspect we have here a great believer in "free enterprise" and "free markets" who has faith in the ability of the invisible hand to guide us all to an unregulated nirvana. It is strange how deregulation usually seems to lead to incomprehensible situations such as the previously mentioned phone companies, cell phones, absurd pricing on airline tickets, savings and loan fiascoes, wild and senseless peaks and valleys in oil prices, and a long list of other areas where a bit of regulation lends some sanity to an otherwise incredibly complicated and often criminal situation such as Enron and its ilk. It's true some of us are willing to pay a slight premium, at least in the beginning, to encourage the startup of a renewable industry where none exists at present, but how is that different from contributing to any other worthy cause? Surely even free maketeers have some things they are willing to support even if they are not totally "competitive". If it develops that when oil prices go up GM raises its prices too and engages in an obvious rip-off then that will soon become apparent to everyone and if the free market works as some think it should, their windfall profits will soon be undercut by more reputable providers. But they are the only game in town at present, and market analysts who keep track of such things will be looking to see if the public supports the concept. If not it will be like seat belts - take years to be accepted (and may never be accepted on a straight market basis) because no one was willing to buy them and most thought they were a nuisance.


                          I think it would be interesting if a renewable energy cooperative formed that would

                          offer service to retail customers at pricing perhaps like GM, but with the profit being in the form of accumulated shares.  In other words, instead of Charlie’s excess profit contribution going to shareholders somewhere, it goes into an ownership share for him.  If the base price (after subtracting this capitalization charge) were competitive with the other REP’s, then I should think more customers would jump at renewables.  I would support and applaud any company that offered me competitive pricing, and at the same time had the goal of expanding renewables as rapidly as possible.  I’d be willing to help capitalize such a business through higher prices provided I became a partial owner.


                          Of course it would be great if every industry would set up some kind of cooperative so that its profits were plowed back to its customers
                          but I don't think that is the way most free markets work so why should this one? Who would provide the initial startup and operating capital? Sounds like we are looking for some soft-headed philanthropists here. I suspect GM is strictly in it for a profit, not because they are such good guys. But that is true of most businesses.

                          Just my 1 cent change from Robert's 2 cents worth.
                          Charlie



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