pg 10 NEW ENERGY MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION PG. 16
SOLAR DISRUPTION PG. 22
TEPA ABC & SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS PG. 30
TEPA & ILEPA ANNOUNCE MERGER IN JANUARY PG. 34
Your knowledge Your business Your network You
13th Annual TEPA Conference September 18-20th, 2018 Houston Hotel ZaZa Museum District
CONTRIBUTORS EDITORIAL Aaron Cook, Andrew Barth, F. Michael Lewis, Ray Perry, Nate Richards, Calin Brammer COPY EDITORS Scott Black, Leslie Brinson, Aaron Cook, Shannon McGriff, David C. Weirs, Jocelyn Solis, Kathryn Allen LAYOUT AND DESIGN, TimePiece Public Relations & Marketing
NATIONAL TEPA BOARD PRESIDENT Andrew Barth, Partner - CSD Energy Advisors VICE PRESIDENT Huston Able, Vice President of Sales - Choice Energy Services SECRETARY Perry Ruthven, Managing Director - Priority Power Management TREASURER Marilyn Fox, Partner - Fox, Smolen & Associates TEPA DIRECTOR Shannon McGriff NORTHEAST REGION TEPA BOARD PRESIDENT Jeff Lenetsky VICE PRESIDENT Craig Wall, Dir. of Supplier & Prod. Mgmt - Patriot Energy SECRETARY Bill Cannon, Dir. Northeast Markets - Legend Energy Advisors NATIONAL AT-LARGE BOARD MEMBER Scott Heath, Managing Partner - Good Energy, LLP Paul Ward, Director and General Manager - Schneider Electric NATIONAL PAST PRESIDENT David Roylance, Co-Founder - Prism Energy Solutions NORTHEAST REGION VICE-PRESIDENT Javier Barrios, Managing Partner - Good Energy, LLP NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRS MEMBERSHIP EJ Davis, Senior Energy Consultant - Choice Energy Services LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY Paul Smolen, Partner - Fox, Smolen & Associates STANDARDS AND COMPLIANCE Jeff Shoaf, Senior Vice President - Amerex Energy Services COMMUNITY OUTREACH Jared Patterson, Director of Energy Services - Rapid Power Management EDUCATION F. Michael Lewis, Vice President of Operations - Entelrgy CONFERENCE Shana Page, Business Development Manager - Source Power & Gas NORTHEAST REGION COMMITTEE CHAIRS LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY Matthew Kinney, Senior Counsel - Patriot Energy Group STANDARDS AND COMPLIANCE Craig Wall (Interim) EDUCATION Ray Perry, Founder and Managing Partner - NJGEC Andrew Schecter, Regional Sales Manager - Talen Energy MEMBERSHIP Stephen King - Premiere Energy Auctions ILLINOIS CHAPTER OF TEPA David C. Weirs, President - Satori Energy
THE ENERGY PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION WWW.TEPAUSA.ORG | FOLLOW @TEPA_USA Cover image by Moren HSU on Unsplash CONTACT email@example.com
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10 - PORTALS
16 - certification
22 - solar
30 - awards
34 - merger 7
I believed strongly then, as I do now, that TEPA’s most important currency is our membership.
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
A LOOK BACK
After accepting the position of National President in 2016, and at the advice of my predecessors, we identified three core areas that would be the primary focus of my two years of service. I believed strongly then, as I do now, that TEPA’s most important currency is our membership. That’s why, as the incoming president, I wanted to focus on membership growth, rebuilding our education and certification program and providing strategic legislative advocacy for our industry. As I enter my second - and final - year as the National President, I’d like to take this opportunity to look back at those goals and update you on the progress made in 2017. I’m proud to say we’ve had many significant accomplishments as it relates to the stated goals. In the last few months alone, we’ve expanded our national footprint, rolled out a new certification program and announced that a new group, Power Women, is being developed to give women in TEPA a platform to grow their careers and amplify their voices. In January, we kicked off the New Year with the announcement that TEPA and ILEPA had merged. This was an important milestone for both organizations and I want to personally welcome all of the ILEPA members to TEPA. Our organizations have aligned on many of the same values and philosophies over the years, and we believe this is an excellent chance to create a stronger retail energy market. In addition to welcoming ILEPA to our family, we’ve also had over 30 new members join TEPA in the last 12 months. It’s incredibly rewarding to see our membership grow. We also announced our new certification program, the Energy Management Professional (EMP). This new EMP certification not only reflects our growing national membership profile, but sets a clear differentiation between TEPA and non-TEPA
members. I encourage you to take a few minutes to become EMP certified. When you do, you’ll join with other TEPA members who are helping set a higher standard for our industry. On the legislative front, our Regulatory Committee has played an instrumental role in Texas’s recent battle over “usage ownership.” None of this, however, would have happened without the combined efforts of the National, Northeast and ILEPA boards, as well as our committee members. Through their leadership and volunteerism, we’ve helped amplify our mission and adapt to our industry’s changing climate. Of course, there’s still a lot we have to do! And if you would like to be a part of the change that TEPA is fostering in our industry, I encourage you to roll up your sleeves and volunteer with us. With our combined leadership, expertise and creativity, we’ll help make the “TEPA Experience” one that enriches your career and business. Thank you all, and I look forward to a great 2018!
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TEPA National President Partner, CSD Energy Advisors
Building the energy market through education, ethics & advocacy
May 16th | New York City
Photo by Lucas Franco on Unsplash
by Aaron Cook 10
As a juggernaut behind some of the most disruptive tech in the retail energy biz, Nate Richards is on a mission. Over the last decade, he’s carefully and methodically plotted to move the retail energy industry into a “true” open market. But moving an industry (especially against the headwinds of complacency) is hard work. You have to figure out the details. Think small, before you go big. So what is Nate’s vision you ask? Answer: To create a place where buyers and sellers in the retail energy marketplace can transact without email, spreadsheets or IM. Sounds simple enough. But, the solution has been years in the making. And of course it’s left a trail of wrong turns, mistakes and a lot of ‘that doesn’t work’ in its path. Change, as you know, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS INSURANCE There’s a beginning to every story. And Nate’s beginning starts, oddly enough, with the insurance industry. Cliché as it may seem, his idea for what is now called, “Energy Frameworks”, came during a lunch meeting in 2005. A colleague worked in a remote corner of the insurance business that was largely unknown. “He ran a General Agent (GA), which is a broker-broker, of sorts,” said Richards. “In a nutshell, my colleague opened up carrier access to smaller, low volume agents who could not price out a deal alone. But what intrigued me the most was that he was building software to provide multicarrier quotes to his brokers. It was a value-add to the basic market access of a GA.” Return to Table of Contents
Richards saw the parallel to retail energy. “With the advent of deregulation, consumers of energy were exposed to new risks. Suppliers were effectively insuring consumers against their energy price risk,” he added. “There was a need for a centralized comprehensive retail energy platform a sort of market - which allowed brokers and their customers to connect with suppliers and utilities. The platform would consummate the risk-shifting relationships in retail energy supply contracts. Each party was a stakeholder in the retail energy transaction, and each had data to contribute.” At the “core” of the problem When you know something is out of whack, intuitively, you want to correct it. Nate’s light bulb moment over lunch with his friend, in part, led him to develop the Collaborative Operations for Retail Energy platform. And because nobody was going to say that out loud, ever, he abbreviated it using the acronym C.O.R.E. CORE was unfolding during the early days of energy deregulation. The grand vision for centralization (and the necessary standardization that comes with it) was a hard sell - especially in the Wild West energy frontier, where profits were high and efficiencies were approached with all the heartiness of, “meh, that’d be nice.” When CORE was launched, it was met with mixed success. “’So, how’s this going to make 12
me money?’ was inevitably the first question I was asked. And truth be told, I didn’t have the whole answer,” Richards admitted, “so we focused on being the gold standard for commissions reconciliation, where we could put an actual hard dollar value to our broker-side proposition.” What he did know, however, was that the core of the problem (pun intended) was that market data was a disaster. Richards hired a market research firm to conduct a study and help find the answers he needed. “Having answers are critical. But throwing out the wrong answers when your company is still in the cradle can be your opening act and finale. The market research I commissioned was important for that phase of my business and gave me invaluable insight into the direction I needed to go. I learned two game-changing facts from that research. First, suppliers universally hated their software platforms, which only focused on serving load, and not selling energy. And second, brokers really had no product serving their space whatsoever.” The results of this study, combined with his “Energy GA” realization over lunch, became the catalyst behind CORE’s inception and evolution. While Richards built CORE into the leading broker platform, another trend was developing in the industry; portals. PORTALS 101 For starters, let’s just define a portal as ‘a central place to acReturn Return to Table to Table of Contents of Contents
cess information.’ As of today, the ‘portal’ is the retail energy industry’s solution of choice for a pricing data bottleneck. Unfortunately, the use of portals alone has not created the expected efficiencies. “Hudson Energy’s portal was not the first from a supplier, but certainly one of the most successful in the retail energy space. Combined with FirstChoice’s portal, among others, it started a buildout of broker-facing portals by the supplier community,” added Richards. Supplier portals became popular because they created a differentiated experience for broker partners. That may have come in the form of decreased “time to executable quote” and/or broader offerings beyond the pure commodity sale. However, while they are very expensive to build, in reality, the data entry burden placed on the user was unrealistic - at least for most commercial energy brokers who are unwilling to key all the deal and meter data into a multiplicity of supplier portals. But, suppliers are not the only portal players. As of February 2018, there are over 40 supplier-facing broker portals in the market. Two of the first broker portals were World Energy (founded in 1996) and Energy Gateway (founded in 1999). Ultimately Energy Gateway sold to World Energy (2007), which was sold to EnerNOC (2014), which was sold to Enel (2017). Per an archive on the Crunchbase web-
PLUGGEDIN site, these platforms had the aspiration of “global marketplaces”:
Like the supplier portals, broker portals also sought differentiation, but they focused on their customers and sales agents.
EnergyGateway.com, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is harnessing the power and speed of the Internet to create a new global marketplace for energy goods and services: a marketplace providing buyers and sellers with reduced costs, simplified transactions, and expanded intelligence about available energy sources and options. The system, a highly customizable Internet-based e-commerce transaction platform, includes four “Energy Marketplaces” -- natural gas, electricity, commercial energy savings and residential energy savings. Each marketplace operates as a hub community of buyers and sellers, allowing both to transact more efficiently and effectively. Like the supplier portals, broker portals also sought differentiation, but they focused on their own target audience: customers and agents. Broker portals show “proof of work” to customers on the price discovery function of the brokercustomer relationship and “proof of value” in savings/certainty obtained for the customer through a transaction. They also sought to reduce the effort to achieve an “apples to apples” price comparison. However, some blindly compare supplier pricing without considering this and automate production of the customer presentation. “In reality, all the systems are proprietary and require suppliers to maintain a knowledgebase of how to log in, discover opportunities, and price differently in each system,” added Richards. “They often place onerous and binding bidder requirements on the participating suppliers. There is some question as to the bias of many portals. For example, I’ve heard rumblings from REPs who question whether these portals ‘steer deals’ towards a supplier who pays up front, rather than one who does not.” PORTALS EVERYWHERE Remember that insurance analogy? Well, the GA model from the insurance business is now kicking tires in retail energy. Platforms like REX, BOX, PowerKiosk and EMEX, among other others often use Matrix pricing or Reverse Auction formats for procurement, sleeving other brokers in the process, sometimes referred to as “broker brokers”.
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PLUGGEDIN portals utilize old technology, opaque fees, extra legal layers between supplier and customer (in the broker-broker model)…just to name a few.
“My best guess is that we have over 60 supplier and 40 broker portals being used today. Consider that even if there were only 40 of each, we would have roughly 1600 unique integrations to build.”
On the flip side, NRG’s acquisition of EnergyWize (now known as REX) in 2015 established a new milestone, because REX is owned by a supplier, but functions as a broker-broker portal. It represents a unique hybrid of a broker that has its own book of business and brokers for others – but is owned by one of its supplier relationships. So, with all that said, have portals solved our data problem? Not really. In fact, it’s exacerbated the data bottleneck because, by and large, 14
“Portals have yet to provide their intended solution, largely because they’ve come from market participants,” added Richards. “That means there can’t be a true ’open‘ (unbiased) market in all of the competitors’ minds. And aside from the question of bias and transparency, there is a logistical and cost challenge of integrating all supplier portals with all broker portals to gain efficiency. My best guess is that we have over 60 supplier and 40 broker portals being used today. Consider that even if there were only 40 of each, we would have roughly 1600 unique integrations to build. The fragmentation is simply a non-starter.” THE TIPPING POINT Rethinking a broken system is not easy. You have to have a unique perspective on how exactly you want to approach reform. “I’m not in the business of selling or brokering electricity; I’m in the business of technology,” said Richards. “I’ve approached the development of a single portal through the lenses of computer science and economics. CORE Marketplace was developed for one purpose, to offer a consolidated, single transaction portal for all market participants. Access to CORE is free for brokers and suppliers alike, and offers extended information beyond the data hub for paid participants. We’re simply following a proven evolutionary path of semi-liquid brokered product markets.” Semi-liquid brokered product markets, you say? Yes, think travel industry. In the 1980s, computer reservation systems (CRS) emerged for travel agents (brokers) that allowed them to book fares using Agent Terminals. However, this was quickly replaced by Global Distribution Systems (GDS - e.g. SABRE, Amadeus, Galileo, and others), which allowed agents to
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book fares across all providers through the burgeoning power of the 1990s-era internet. The largest platform, SABRE, was originally developed by American Airlines, who was eventually sued by their competitors for preferring their own fares. Fast forward to today; all the travel bookings in the world flow through a handful of independent (unaffiliated with any supplier or broker) systems, with over 80 percent of the market flowing through two – SABRE and Amadeus. The reality was that the market could not support dozens of “mini supplierspecific markets,” nor would it support a diverse collection of broker-owned mini-markets. Ultimately, this has resulted in the unification through a few data hubs, enabling easier, faster and cheaper transactions for all parties. “I believe the broker model is here to stay and will continue to
hold majority market share in the C&I segment for many years to come,” added Richards. “Like group benefits for insurance, where the products are complex and diverse, it requires managing a lot of data to purchase effectively. That’s especially true when customers don’t keep up with market dynamics, so there is a lot of value to be added through the broker-customer relationship.” In a maturing market, margin compression is not anyone’s fault, it’s an economic certainty. It drives innovation (a form of competition), which is good for business, and weeds out weak, low value participants. However, it also means there is simply no more margin for suppliers to give brokers of brokers of brokers of brokers...or to pay for more one-off portals.
point. If participants continue to load the market with more portals, the market will become mired in its own best intentions. That’s where innovators like Nate Richards are helping. “Gone are the days of playing Whack-a-Mole in pursuit of finding the right portal to transact business,” added Richards. “CORE was designed specifically for the retail energy industry and re-imagines how people, data and communication are absorbed into one simple solution. We’ve streamlined the data collection process for retail energy transactions and created a true open market for brokers and suppliers. I like to think of CORE as the retail energy industry’s first viable unified marketplace - where all portals are welcome to connect and do business more efficiently.”
The retail energy market’s portal landscape is severely fragmented and approaching the tipping
Nate has over 20 years of software engineering and consulting experience. He is President of Entrance Consulting, founded in 2003 after working as the Manager of Software Applications for Spinnaker Exploration prior to its acquisition by Norsk Hydro (now Statoil). Entrance has gone on to be a six-time Inc. 5000 award winner, 5 time HBJ FastTech 50 winner, and winner of numerous BBB and “Best Places to Work” awards. Nate also founded Energy Frameworks to deliver disruptive innovation to the retail energy industry through a cloud-based comprehensive sales and commissions management platform. In 2018, the CORE platform will facilitate 30-40 TWh of retail energy transactions across nearly 300,000 commercial meters, while introducing the first online marketplace for digital transactions in deregulated energy space.
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get certified. anytime. anywhere.
Photo by Filip Bunkens on Unsplash
Over the last decade, TEPA has expanded beyond Texasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s borders and nearly doubled our membership. As our membership has grown across the country, so too has the need to provide a standard certification exam that reflects our national footprint. The Certified Energy Professional (CEP) exam was originally adopted by our founding members in Texas. It was revolutionary because it served as one of the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first certifications showing that those who passed understood the fundamental components of transacting in the retail energy marketplace. It set a new standard for our industry. Our new Energy Management Professional (EMP) certification has been updated with input from our national members. It better reflects our members who are doing business in multiple markets, as well as those providing a broad range of offerings, such as natural gas and renewable, along with additional services such as Demand Response and lighting retrofits. The following FAQs will help you understand more about the exam, as well as the benefits of being EMP certified.
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PLUGGEDIN Q: A:
When did TEPA change the program to the EMP certification? We officially announced the new EMP certification during our 2017 annual conference in Dallas. We also set up a testing center during the conference, giving our members in attendance the chance to be among the first to be EMP certified by TEPA.
What are the benefits of being a TEPA EMP? There are numerous benefits of being a certified TEPA EMP not only for you, but also the clients you serve. • • • • • • • •
A TEPA EMP is important to you and your clients because it demonstrates that you: Have a basic understanding of the national retail energy market Possess a knowledge of various client-facing opportunities such as Demand Response Grow your knowledge through CEU events, training and education programs Can transact fairly within the market Adhere to higher professional standards Are dedicated to maintaining quality in your work on a regular basis Grow your knowledge through regular attendance at industry-related training events and education programs
Are existing TEPA CEPs grandfathered in as EMPs? No. The new EMP exam covers a broader range of topics than the CEP and better reflects the national energy marketplace. As a result, the EMP is the new, recognized certification program for TEPA members.
How has the test changed? The CEP exam focused primarily on the ERCOT market. The new EMP exam has been expanded to reflect national ISO-specific information including ERCOT, PJM, NYSIO, ISO-NE and MISO. The test will also be updated as needed to reflect new changes in policy, guidelines and laws as they become available. The EMP exam currently has 60 questions. You only have to take the EMP exam once, however, in order to keep your EMP certification current you will be required to complete 12 Continuing Education Units each year. The CEU program will be announced in 2019.
Who can take TEPA’s EMP exam? The EMP certification is available to all TEPA Aggregators, Brokers, Consultants and Supplier members who are current on their dues and in good standing with the Association.
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een on Unsplash
How do I take the EMP exam? The EMP is an online exam that can be taken remotely, on any day or at any time that is most convenient for you. The exam is available to current TEPA members on www. tepaUSA.org. To take the EMP exam: • Visit www.tepaUSA.org • Log in to your member account by clicking on the Log In link located in the main menu. If you do not have a TEPA member account, click on Create an Account and follow the prompts. • Click on the Certification link • Click on EMP Exam link in the dropdown menu. Please note, the exam link is ONLY visible when you are logged in to your TEPA account. • Click on the TEPA EMP exam link to be redirected to the exam website. Please note that the exam is hosted on www.classmaker.com and not on www.tepaUSA.org. There is no time limit on the EMP exam. However, because there is no proctor present during the exam, it is expected that you follow TEPA’s honor code when taking the test, which means you agree not to: • Seek any outside help from another person or online resource • Impersonate or complete the exam on behalf of another TEPA member(s) Once you have completed the exam, you will be emailed your score. To pass the exam you must earn a minimum grade of 70, meaning you must answer 42 questions correctly. If you passed, you will receive your EMP Certificate via email.
Is there a study guide for the EMP certification? Not at this time. Like the old CEP, the EMP exam is an entry level exam. TEPA is in the process of rolling out a more robust education platform that will include a higher level certification exam covering both national and regional markets. There will be educational resources available to prepare for taking these exams. The process of developing this material is under way. TEPA plans to begin the roll out of additional certifications and training material during the 4th quarter of 2018.
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PLUGGEDIN Q: A:
Can I retake the EMP? Yes. While the EMP exam is not overtly difficult, it’s intended to establish a baseline of understanding of the retail energy market. We recognize that some of the information may be new or unfamiliar to new and veteran TEPA members alike. As a result, there are no limits on the number of times you can take the test. If you wish to retake the exam, simply log back in to your TEPA account and click on Certification in the main menu.
How much does it cost to take the EMP exam? There is no fee for TEPA members to take the EMP exam. However, your TEPA membership must be paid in full, and you must be in good-standing with the Association.
Can I take the EMP exam during a TEPA event? Because the EMP exam is online, it can be taken at any time. However, it is also administered on-site during the Northeast (May 2018 in NYC) and National (September 2018 in Houston) conferences. If you are interested in taking the exam during these two events, please email Education@tepaUSA.org.
Can non-TEPA members take the exam or qualify as an EMP? No, the EMP certification is only available to current TEPA members in good standing.
Does the EMP require Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to remain current? Yes. Beginning in 2019, you will be required to complete 12 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in order to keep your EMP certification current. Acceptable CEUs will be listed on the website. You will need to submit proof of your CEUs through your TEPA member account on the website. All CEUs must be submitted each year by December 31st, beginning in 2019. Valid proof of your CEUs must be submitted electronically and include your name, date and title of the CEU course or program. Acceptable forms: • An electronic receipt of your registration • Proof or registration for an online resource If you fail to submit your CEUs by the end of the year, your name will removed from the EMP page on the TEPA website and you will be required to re-take the EMP exam.
Who can I contact if I have more questions about the EMP? If you have additional questions, you can email Education@tepaUSA.org.
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TEPA MIDWEST CONFERENCE AUGUST 2018 | CHICAGO Visit www.tepaUSA.org for details
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By Aaron Cook
“We simply have to break through the conventional thought that solar is too complicated to add into a consumer’s portfolio.” - Calin Brammer Mothership Energy Group
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Photo by Andreas Gu
People love buzz words. You know, those trendy terms that signal to the rest of the world that we’re current. Hip. On top of our game. We trickle them into our communication as though they were penned by J.K. Rowling and will, somehow, elicit some magical spell on our audience as they punctuate our conversation. About three years ago, the buzz word of choice was paradigm. That word single-handedly ushered in a new (ahem) paradigm in how we refer to how incredible we are at changing business models. Last year it was amplify. It wasn’t enough to say we’ve grown our brand into new markets. Because it sounds way more sophisticated to say we’ve amplified our corporate identity by changing the paradigm of our marketing methodology. So what’s our go-to buzz word today? Hands down, it’s disruption. But, unlike some of our more fleeting buzz words of the past, disruption is here to stay. That’s because it suggests a permanent change in how we think about, approach and resolve our challenges. Within the context of business operations, disruption is important because it signals that 24
“WHEN THE NEW SOLAR PANEL TARIFFS WERE ANNOUNCED IN JANUARY, THE PUBLIC OVERREACTED.”
we’re ready to advance to the next level of success…despite how uncomfortable it might make us. For those in energy, that disruption will be (actually it already is) solar energy.
Mothership, about how the solar market is shaping up to disrupt the energy market.
It came as no surprise that Brammer was quick to point out, at the beginning of our conversation, that solar prices have been on a steady decline over the last decade. Over the last two years, they’ve been in a downright free fall. Perhaps that’s why it’s been earning a lot of attention – most recently from the federal administration. “When the new solar panel tariffs were announced in January, the public overreacted,” said Brammer. “After the tariff was announced earlier this year, energy blogs and clean tech articles were chock full of doom and gloom scenarios. I think that sentiment was born from a simple lack of knowledge. But if you lift the curtain of misinformation and just examine the facts, the tariffs won’t significantly impact the market and solar will continue to be aggressively priced.”
Mothership Energy Group, a woman-owned energy solutions company, is at the forefront of this solar disruption. The company advises, consults and analyzes low-carbon technology solutions, like solar wind and battery storage. Their team is constructed of savvy renewable industry veterans who are committed to structuring creative market solutions across the country. Plugged In spoke The new legislation calls for a with Calin Brammer, the head 30% tariff on all imported soof Business Development at lar panels imported from variReturn to Table of Contents
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ous countries around the world. This is one of the key areas of misinformation, however: many people believe the tariff impacts all imports, when in fact several “beneficial” countries where a large volume of solar panels are produced, such as South Korea, are protected by a global safeguard measure and not impacted by the tariff.
the cost curve, to around 2016 pricing,” Brammer added. “And keep in mind that we’re still within a large window of having this new tariff implemented. In fact, a lot of the details are still being ironed out. We’re still asking questions like, at what point will you get hit with the tariff? Is the tariff just going to be an average? How will it work on a solar panel that costs 30 cents a For those countries that are watt versus 35 cents?” impacted by the tariff, such as Canada and Mexico, keep in The good news about the solar mind that the 30% will gradu- industry is that it’s incredibly ally step down over the next crafty at finding solutions to several years, by 5% annually. continue overcoming obstacles, So, while the 30% may sound like federal regulations. State daunting on face value, Bram- legislatures for example have mer explained that the total quite a bit of influence on their costs of other solar project ma- state level energy mix. If a state terials are actually declining. In is progressive in its approach to fact, despite the pending tar- solar, they can roll out programs iffs, the cost of building solar that can minimize the impact of “farms” (large offsite solar proj- federal tax laws. ects) are still competitive with new natural gas plants. In all likelihood, the panel tariffs will effectively increase the total cost of a new solar project by around 10% for projects expected to be built in 2019 or 2020. Impact on projects expected to be installed after that date are minimal, if at all. “The new tariffs are really just pushing us back a year or two in
“THE NEW TARIFFS ARE REALLY JUST PUSHING US BACK A YEAR OR TWO IN THE COST CURVE, TO AROUND 2016 PRICING.”
These states are working to make solar solutions more accessible and easier to opt into. Massachusetts, for example, is ‘working to create a long-term sustainable solar incentive program to promote cost-effective solar development in the Commonwealth through its Renewable Target (SMART) program’. SOLAR The program is on track to draSOLUTIONS matically accelerate the comSome states, like Massachusetts, munity solar market. New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut, have been march- “If you’re a commercial cusing down the solar path for quite tomer in New York or Massaa while now. And even though chusetts, you’re paying over 15 these tariffs are putting a speed cents all in for power. In Inbump in the road to greater diana it’s closer to 8 cents. If a solar adoption, these states are greater portion of your overall pushing forward regardless. spend is on your energy bill, Return to Table of Contents
PLUGGEDIN you’re going to naturally look for a way to reduce those costs. I think that’s a big reason why you see states in the Northeast leading the charge to find more ways to give consumers access to solar options,” noted Brammer. In Massachusetts, in fact, there’s so much demand for solar that when the state rolls out a new program, it can get capped out within only a couple of years. Fortunately, developers can build solar farms just as fast as the demand.
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In Massachusetts, in fact, there’s so much demand for solar that when the state rolls out a new program, it can get capped out within only a couple of years. Fortunately, developers can build solar farms just as fast as the demand. 26
According to Brammer, there are a couple of ways that brokers can get their clients in the solar game right now. One is by finding opportunities to integrate solar panels on a client’s property. In California, renewable energy makes up nearly 30% of the state’s energy stack. Of that 30%, nearly half is solar. That makes sense when you consider California is the third largest state in the country and has the land and sunshine to make solar farms profitable. But what about places like New York, where land is scarce? You get creative. Rooftops, parking lots and carports, which are very plentiful, become a fertile ground for solar farming. Massachusetts has set up incentives, or bonuses, for solar developers based on where their solar panels are built. Rooftop panels can earn a company an extra 2 cents per kWh, while a car port will reach up to 6 cents per kWh. Customers can get in on the solar game by simply renting out their rooftops or parking lots, and solar developers will pay a monthly lease payment just to use the space. The customer gets free cov-
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ered parking and a new revenue stream, while the developer gets to install a project and sell community solar bill credits – a win for all involved. Outside of building your own solar farm, Brammer says that community solar bill credits have become incredibly popular. A community solar project occurs when a developer has a solar farm that instead of selling energy to just one customer, sells energy to several customers at the same time. Community solar gets especially interesting in markets where developers can turn the solar energy into utility bill credits and sell those community solar bill credits to any customer in the market. He explained how community solar bill credits work with the analogy of buying a gift card with a bonus on it. “It starts with finding a solar developer that has (or is planning to build) a community solar farm near your location. You then contract to buy solar credits from the developer at a discount. Every month, the solar developer sends you a gift card for $100, but you’re only required to pay the developer $80, based on your negotiated discount. You can then apply the full amount to your utility bill. The results is that you see instant savings on your monthly utility bill.”
break through the conventional thought that solar is too complicated to add into a consumer’s portfolio,” said Brammer. “The pressure to show consistent energy savings for their clients is relentless, especially on brokers. Adding solar to your mix is one of the very best – and easiest options available to round out a client’s portfolio.”
“THE BEAUTY OF INTRODUCING YOUR CLIENTS TO COMMUNITY SOLAR BILL CREDITS - AND THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT FOR BROKERS IS THAT THEY DO NOT IMPACT THE CUSTOMER’S EXISTING SUPPLY.”
tant for brokers - is that they do not impact the customer’s existing supply situation. You don’t have to re-negotiate rates or terms, or create a new contract to reap the benefit of solar via community credits. So, if your client is on competitive supply and is locked up until 2025, this is a simple way to re-engage them by facilitating a solar deal that generates savings for them, and gives you an opportunity to create new business,” noted Brammer. Where community solar credits are not an option (like Texas), brokers can still make solar work for their clients by helping find solar installation opportunities. Every solar installation project you start will be unique because every roof, carport, building and parking lot is different. Solar installation projects will naturally require a more hands-on approach to create the right deal. Fortunately, new technology is making it easier to navigate solar discussions with your customers. The efficiency of a single solar panel today has increased dramatically. Panels installed a decade ago were maybe 8% to 10% efficient. The technology available today can nearly double that efficiency, with panels that are half the size.
It’s clear that managing a client portfolio that only mixes coal and natural gas is the equivalent of squeezing money out of a rock. If you broker a deal that locked in a rate for years, it’s difficult to find additional revenue generating options. Solar is an incredible way to bring value to customers that they may not A couple of companies like otherwise find. Tesla have developed integrated According to Brammer, howrooftop solar tiles for homes ever, solar has been largely “The beauty of introducing your (not businesses, yet, sorry!) But overlooked by the broker com- clients to community solar bill remember Tesla’s website states munity. “We simply have to credits – and this will be impor- that its “Solar Roof comple-
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ments your home’s architecture while turning sunlight into electricity. With an integrated Powerwall battery, energy collected during the day is stored and made available any time, effectively turning your home into a personal utility.” Tesla also offers glass solar tiles that they say are “so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.” Clever.
well as the ones that are up and coming. On the other side, we’re sharing those project opportunities with brokers who can identify clients who would benefit from a solar deal.” Recently, Mothership was contacted by a ISONE-based developer who wanted to build a community solar project. The developer finished its due diligence in planning the project, securing the land, etc. and was seeking customers to buy their credits. The developer reached out to Mothership to find a customer who could help them move forward with the project.
Other companies can build an integrated solar roof panel that is flush with a roof line. But, none of this technology has really captured center mass yet. Nor is it as inexpensive as a traditional solar panel. So, while one brand may get all the attention, there’s no Brammer and his team connected with broclear leader in the race…yet. kers in the area whose customers could “check off the boxes” that the developer needFor brokers who feel solar is too outside the ed in order to move forward. One broker norm, people like Brammer and the team at identified two customers who could jointly Mothership are in the business of solar dis- meet the conditions of the developer’s terms. ruption. You can see them simply as the en- Mothership then brought the developer, broabler to get a lot of the solar deals done. In ker and customers together to facilitate the other words, Mothership is for brokers who agreement, negotiate the terms and execute are unclear on how to get solar into their cli- the contract. ents portfolio, or simply don’t have the contacts, time or bandwidth to find a developer “We started that project in October 2017 and and build a solar solution for their client. the customers will start receiving their solar bill credits this summer,” added Brammer. “Our team exists to facilitate deals in the re- “It’s a long term deal and we anticipate they’ll newable energy space,” added Brammer. “You see an average savings of $60,000 annually on can think of us as the middle part of a bow tie. their utility costs.” On one side, we have relationships with solar developers across the country. We stay ahead And that, friends, is how we define solar disof their projects that are up and running, as ruption. Calin is the head of Business Development at Mothership Energy Group and has worked in the energy industry for eight years, holding various positions and consulting engagements at companies such as SunPower, MP2 Energy and National Grid. Prior to joining MEG, Calin was an Associate on the Utility Sales and Development team at SunPower, a vertically integrated solar developer. www.MothershipEnergyGroup.com
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Photo by Derek Liang on Unsplash
Meet our 2017-18 TEPA Award Winners. In 2017, TEPA had its largest, and arguably most competitive, field of nominees for its ABC and Supplier of the Year awards. In total, 48 ABC and 33 Supplier members were in contention for TEPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s highest honor. The competition was so fierce, in fact, for the first time in TEPA history, we had an unbreakable tie for our ABC of the Year award.
The Supplier of the Year award recognizes the most comprehensive, innovative and strategic vision for deregulated electricity and natural gas markets. It also takes into consideration the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s customer service reputation among its customers and employees. This award is voted on by TEPA ABC members.
As a peer-based system, the TEPA awards are The ABC of the Year award recognizes the among the most coveted in the energy indusmost promising and innovative TEPA ABC try. company in areas such as contract negotiations, ethical business practices and customer So, without further ado (drum roll, please), service. This award is voted on by TEPA Sup- here are your 2017 TEPA ABC and Supplier plier members. of the Year winners.
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PLUGGEDIN 2017-2018 Supplier of the Year
Our growth over the last 18 months has been a mix of quick thinking and seeing obstacles as opportunities.
- Angela Haney
What happens when you build a team with some of the best minds in the energy market? You get recognized for your comprehensive, innovative and strategic vision for deregulated electricity and natural gas markets, of course. Summer Energy, one of the industry’s newest players, was 2017’s TEPA Supplier of the Year.
company’s rear view mirror. As Summer Energy continues to build an impressive portfolio of clients, it’s now looking ahead to new challenges: client retention, efficiency and process improvement.
“We fully embrace our mission to bring energy to families and business across Texas in a very simple, uncomplicated way,” added Haney. “People, our “This industry does not unfold in a straight line,” team and our customers, are our greatest passion. said Angela Haney, president of Summer Energy. They are our most powerful tool and inspire the di“That’s why we stacked our team deep with ex- rection we lead our company.” perts who have industry experience and approach the market differently. Our growth over the last 18 Summer Energy, who has a 5-star PUCT rating, was months has been a mix of quick thinking and see- named one of ‘Houston’s Best & Brightest Compaing obstacles as opportunities. Fortunately, we’re fi- nies to Work For’ for a third consecutive year in nally shifting from a start up phase to an established 2017 and has recently expanded its office. REP. Certainly, being named TEPA’s Supplier of the Year validates that our business model is working.” More information can be found at www.SummerEnergy.com. Customer acquisition, as it is for any new company, was a struggle in an already competitive market. Building up a revenue stream that can carry you to the next phase is critical. That however, is in the
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2017-2018 ABC of the Year
I set out to empower my clients with information so they could make the best decision for their company. - Walter Moore
In 1996, when energy deregulation was still in its infancy, Walter Moore - a pioneer in healthcare publishing - and an electrical engineer met over breakfast. The conversation centered on the transformation that was happening in the energy industry, namely the opening of the market for competition. That early morning conversation led Moore to found Affiliated Power Purchasers International, now called APPI Energy.
nesses across the Lone Star State. It was also during this time that Moore began meeting with trade associations and chambers of commerce with the hope of seeking an endorsement and introduction to their members. Today, APPI Energy is proud to be recommended to the members of 158 trade associations, affinity groups and chambers of commerce.
It’s clear the hard work and attention to providing “It was incredibly exciting to have a front row seat customers with the procurement information is to the opening of a new market,” said Moore, Presi- paying off. In 2017, APPI Energy was recognized dent and CEO of APPI Energy. “However, I recog- by TEPA as a 2017-18 ABC of the Year. nized that our greatest challenge to success wouldn’t be the contract and delivery of power to customers. “We’re pleased to be recognized for our commitIt was going to be branding and informed decision ment to customer service and best practices,” addmaking. Before I ever contacted my first potential ed Moore. “None of this would be possible without client, I set in motion business processes that would the hard work and dedication of our team and the differentiate my company. I set out to empower my culture of communication and ethics we’ve built clients with information so they could make the over 21 years in the industry. APPI Energy is more best decision for their company.” than a group of consultants; we’re a coordinated team of professionals, with an obligation to do the Over the next six years, Moore and his team care- right thing for our customers.” fully navigated the expanding deregulated market. In 2001, when the Texas market opened up, APPI Learn more at www.APPIEnergy.com Energy was ready to lend their expertise to busi32
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PLUGGEDIN 2017-2018 ABC of the Year
This award is really a credit to our entire team; every single employee takes great pride in representing Satori Energy in the marektplace. - David C. Wiers
For Satori Energy, there’s proof that lighting can strike twice in the same spot, at least when it comes to being recognized as a leader in the energy industry. Last year, during TEPA’s 2017 annual conference, the company became the first TEPA member to be awarded the organization’s ABC of the Year award - for the second time.
established the Illinois Energy Professionals Association (ILEPA) in 2007, an organization based on similar principals as TEPA. Earlier this year Wiers was influential in working through the process of combining ILEPA and TEPA into one organization, which expanded TEPA’s national footprint into the Midwest.
“It’s an honor to be the first TEPA member to earn the ABC of the Year for a second time,” said David C. Wiers, President and Founder of Satori Energy, “This award is really a credit to our entire team; every single employee takes great pride in representing Satori Energy in the marketplace. It is rewarding to observe the processes we have created, the “win-win” mentally which permeates throughout our organization, and how our people have embraced the commitment to create value for the customer in every transaction. We will continue to build a culture which encourages people to do the right thing for the customer and also provides an environment that puts our people in a position to succeed.”
Wiers commented on the evolution of these organizations, “There were many different business plans in the early days of deregulation and some of the companies were focused on profits at all costs. The industry needed organizations like TEPA and ILEPA to create legitimacy and standards to ensure the long-term viability of the ABC model within the energy industry. I think TEPA and ILEPA have done a tremendous job of bringing our industry together and establishing values that have created a viable and sustainable deregulated energy market.” Today, Wiers and his team at Satori Energy are continuing to innovate how energy procurement occurs. Since opening its doors the company has not only grown organically, but has become the clear market leader in acquisitions, acquiring 10 brokerage firms since 2011. Today, Satori Energy manages energy spend for clients across North America. Satori’s affiliated brands of Select Energy Partners and Energy Next, Inc. continue to operate and create value in their respective geographical regions.
Wiers, of course, is no stranger to the deregulated energy market. In fact, he’s among the early pioneers who helped shape the market while in its infancy. After entering the energy industry in 2000, he became a minority owner and Vice president of Dallas-based Power Brokers in 2003. Wiers was instrumental in the founding of TEPA and served as the first President of the organization from 2005- Learn more at www.SatoriEnergy.com 2007. After launching Satori Energy in 2006, he Return to Table of Contents
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ON WEDNESDAY, JAN. 10, 2018
TEPA and ILEPA made an exciting announcement about the merger of the two organizations. We have the great pleasure of announcing that the Illinois Energy Professionals Association (ILEPA) will merge with The Energy Professionals Association (TEPA), effective January 1, 2018. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to combine our efforts to educate the community on energy initiatives and advocate legislative plans in the deregulated energy markets that we serve. Over the years, our organizations have worked together and espoused many of the same values and philosophies in our approach to advancing a robust retail energy market. We believe this union is an excellent chance to combine two well-respected associations that share a deep commitment to creating a stronger community between ABCs and Suppliers, as well as our consumers and elected officials. As we move forward with the merger, David C. Wiers will continue as president of the Illinois Chapter of TEPA, as well as serve as a voting atlarge member on the national TEPA board. The remainder of the Illinois Chapterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s board members will also remain in their current roles, and all national TEPA board members will continue to serve in their current positions. ILEPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website (www.ILEPA.org) will be migrated later this year to www.tepaUSA.org. We are grateful for your membership and remain committed to making this merger one that will significantly benefit your career, business and our industry. We hope you will join us in celebrating this major milestone, as it provides all of us with a tremendous way to make a greater impact in the deregulated energy retail markets we serve. Over the next few weeks we will continue to send you updates and news of our progress. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Shannon McGriff, TEPA Director, at Shannon@tepaUSA.org. Andrew Barth TEPA National President
David C. Wiers ILEPA President
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