Thursday, July 26, 2010
sponsored by Graue Inc. & Illini Bank

Electrical energy cost management program available

Local businesses get opportunity to buy electricity at a lower rate           Send a link to a friend

[July 26, 2010]  Smart business owners not only watch their revenue and profit lines, but they look for ways to cut expenses. The recent rise in energy costs has made that expenditure a prime focus. Traditionally the best way to control energy costs has been to look for ways to reduce consumption. But now it has become important to consider another aspect of energy control: procurement

Ameren and Cilco are now energy distribution companies providing the structure to carry electricity. The electricity being supplied is billed at a default rate. The default rate has been and will probably continue to be higher to businesses than if the business were to negotiate a rate from a supplier.

Problems of being too small or not familiar with the energy market are now being eliminated by cooperatives. CQI Associates, Energy and Management Consultants, developed a program they are offering to chambers of commerce across the nation. Bonnie Grady was asked to present the program to Lincoln and Logan County businesses.

Last week Grady shared a wealth of information on the history, current market conditions and the anticipated future of energy availability and prices. While Illinois legislators agreed on Monday to address recent rate hikes through Ameren and Cilco, this is still a good opportunity to become familiar with what is going on in this market and possibly exercise the option to purchase energy at a set rate for a period of time.

According to CQI statistics, the company has conducted over 155 energy procurement assignments since 2000 that have included over 17,800 accounts for over 12,000 owner locations. Energy management programs have saved clients over $950,000,000.

The majority of the chambers that are participating are in Maryland, and there are several in Delaware. In Illinois, CQI has established cooperatives with the Decatur, Champaign County and Peoria area chambers of commerce.

In the program being offered, contracts are set up in advance and the cooperative monitors market prices, waiting for a low rate to lock in. "Members have the option to accept or reject the final offer" when a price is offered, Grady said.

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Any business spending over $200 a month on electricity will want to consider this program, Grady said. She documented savings that have been seen from the program so far.

First year:

  • Small businesses see a savings of 6 percent to 8 percent.

  • Midsized businesses, 8 percent to 12 percent.

  • Over 1 megawatt load, over 15 percent.

These savings can be two to three times better following the first year, Grady said.

The program is ideal for a wide range of participants that may not realize it, such as doctor's offices or municipalities.

Grady said last week that another opportunity to enroll in the program would be presented in six months.

Participation in the program is open to all chamber members. Any business can join the chamber at a low membership fee.

The $300 program application fee is made to CQI, the company hosting the program.

The Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce has scheduled one additional presentation of "Buying energy in an open market." It will take place on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Lincoln Park District headquarters. The meeting is open to all businesses in Logan County.

[Jan Youngquist]

CQI Associates:

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