Decisions, Decisions Choosing an ESCO

Saving money is always a top concern of any co-op or condo board, but with tough economic times and high fuel prices, saving on energy costs can be a challenge. Thanks to deregulation of the New York energy market a little over a decade ago, boards and managers have a wide array of options for energy delivery—many of which can yield significant savings.

According to Mark Loughlin, vice president and CFO of FFC Energy in Brooklyn, energy was deregulated because monopolies in the market had energy customers up in arms. “The consumers complained that they didn't have a choice in providers.”

So what's the best way to choose a new energy service company (ESCO) and find a good deal, if you're looking to switch?

Doing the Research

If you're just starting out in the process of researching ESCOs, a good place to begin might be the New York State Public Service Commission's (PSC) website at www.dps.state.ny.us, or Con Edison's at www.poweryourway.com. There you can find a listing of current ESCOs eligible to sell energy in New York. It's a good idea to check the price per kilowatt hour of several companies you may be considering to give you a beginning basis for comparison, and see if the ESCO is offering any incentives to new customers, and if the prices quoted include taxes. Currently, Con Ed under its PowerMove program is offering a 7 percent discount to customers that switch. Check the website for more information.

Irwin Levine, vice president of business development for Great Eastern Energy in Brooklyn says, “Boards and managers should also have a history of the ESCO; they should know their credibility, their track record, as well as the products and services that are offered; it’s also good to know the company’s mission, and what exactly they’re trying to convey to board members. When you go on a board to make the proper decision, they should be fully informed and educated.”

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Comments

  • I develop Energy Savings Performance Contracts for an ESCO in the local gnveroment, K-12 schools and higher education markets. Mark is correct that too often only the energy efficiency measures with the fastest paybacks get addressed, but he's blaming the wrong entity. The customer decides what cost-effectiveness criteria will be used and it is they that drive decisions that result in long payback measures being ignored. Unfortunately, that often means those measures never get addressed. A good ESPC is one with the right blend of short and long term measures; one that essentially uses to short term measures like lighting to help pay for the other measures.