Champion Energy’s Scholarship Program

Champion Energy, the four time consecutive winner of the J.D. Power Award for excellence in customer service in the Texas electricity space, has announced their new Champion Scholars Program. The program, which continues Champion Energy’s commitment to community service and philanthropy, will award scholarships to one winner ($5,000) and two runners up ($1,000), respectively.

The scholarship application centers on community involvement, including the following essay topic:

“Being a champion is about more than winning or being number one. Sometimes being a champion is about giving back to the community, standing up for your beliefs, or supporting a cause you believe in. What makes you a champion in your school or in your community?

Applications are due by April 1st, and winners will be announced by May 1st. It’s also important to note that the scholarships are applicable not just to college, but also High School scholarships. Anyone interested in applying for the scholarship can get the application at the following link:

Champion Scholars Application Link

Capacity Market Criticism: A Texas Electricity Link Dump 12/3/13

There’s been so much in the way of Texas electricity news the past few weeks that it’s difficult to summarize and document it all in a single post. Additionally, there is so much overlap that it doesn’t make much sense for me to write a blog post on each individual article. So instead I’m going to provide a list of some of the best articles I’ve come across recently, along with a summary or thought about why I think the article is a worthwhile read. Lets begin:

Lawmakers Spar Over Market Redesign – This Dallas Morning News article discusses the recent turmoil between the PUC and the Texas legislature. The short of it is that the PUC seems gearing up to back a capacity market, and several key Texas congressmen are questioning whether the PUC has the legal mandate/power to force such a change on Texans.

The 4 Billion Dollar Electric Bill – This article expounds on how a capacity market would usher in an additional 4 billion dollars in money paid by consumers each year. That money generally is an incentive for plants to build more capacity.

Texas Electricity Demands Slowing – Key to the push for the capacity market is the fallacy that Texas’s electricity needs are increasing. In fact, by all accounts, the demand for electricity is growing much slower than expected. The PUC is also looking at implementing a “mandatory reserve” amount that would further the agenda for those pursuing a capacity market. This article discusses all of that, as well as how we have measured electricity demand has changed.

Rants Against Socialized Electricity – Rep. Troy Fraser likened the ushering in of a capacity market to “corporate welfare” and “socializing” the electricity market. But not only that, Paul Ring chimed in with further analysis and breakdown. It’s actually a funny read if it wasn’t so potentially depressing.

Businesses Oppose a Capacity Market – Of course, large companies such as Valero and Wal-Mart (Texas’s biggest single employer) are convinced that a capacity market would be a huge blow to their companies. And considering how Texas has framed themselves as business friendly, one has to wonder how a capacity market would effect businesses currently in Texas, as well as ones considering relocating to Texas. Paul Ring expounds on that by pointing out that no state sporting a capacity market nears the top in any lists of business friendly states.

Paul Ring Exposes Fiction of a Unique Texas Capacity Market – And if anyone was questioning what Paul Ring thinks of a capacity market before now, this article should set them straight once and for all. The story is a breakdown about how the idea of a capacity market that would be “unique to Texas” is a farce and can’t be achieved.

So there is your rundown of the recent happenings in the Texas electricity as it pertains to a capacity market. Hopefully it was a helpful primer.

Texas Electricity Complaints Continue to Decline

Customer complaints in the Texas electricity market have declined for the fourth straight year, as reported by multiple news outlets including the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Complaints are once again the lowest since deregulation began in 2002. Naturally, Recharge Texas (TCAP) once again continued to further their agenda by pointing out there were less complaints during the regulated days of Texas electricity.  I’ve discussed this lazy, Continue reading “Texas Electricity Complaints Continue to Decline” »

Excellent Op-Ed Against a Capacity Electricity Market in Texas

The debate for Capacity Markets in the Texas electricity space is fixing to heat up. I stumbled across this excellent article about the fallacies driving the debate for introducing a capacity market in the state of Texas. It’s rare that I just cut and paste an entire article in this blog space, but I thought that this was worth the exception. The article was originally published in the Austin American Statesman on September 16th, 2013: Continue reading “Excellent Op-Ed Against a Capacity Electricity Market in Texas” »

Proton Energy Should Be Set Ablaze

The PUC is petitioning the commissioners of the PUC to revoke the license of Proton Energy. Why you ask? Oh, well, about 1,000 violations of the PURA/Commission rules since 2011.

No, that is not an exaggeration. Continue reading “Proton Energy Should Be Set Ablaze” »

More on Texas Electricity & Capacity Markets

The debate over capacity markets and whether or not they will become a model for Texas electricity continues to rage. I’ve already given you my thoughts on a Capacity market in my primer on the subject. But more information from all sides continues to blast out from all interested parties. First was the release of an NRG study that admitted that a capacity market would cost Texans an additional 4.7 billion dollars per year. Of course, NRG who would love a capacity market, indicated much of that money would be recouped. Fortunately, Paul Ring of Energy Choice Matters quickly debunked that notion in his article last week.

Of course, the biggest claim of the power generators is that they simply aren’t making enough money to warrant investment as long as natural gas prices continue to remain low. And this is despite raising the market cap last year (with more raises in the pipeline) precisely to encourage investment in new generation plants.

Of course, despite claiming not enough profits, large generation companies sure seem eager to PLAN new plants, according to this article in Rueters

Power companies in fast-growing Texas are drawing plans for 20 new generation plants, even though most projects cannot be financed because of a standoff between state regulators over how to reform the state’s $29 billion electricity market.

Of course, to me, “cannot be financed” reads more like “waiting to see if they can squeeze more money out of taxpayers.” But I might be cynical. What I really did enjoy was later in the article, this little snippet:

Panda Power Funds of Dallas, considered a maverick among developers, overcame significant financing hurdles this year to begin construction of two natural gas-fired plants totaling 2,200 MW.

In the world on power generation, Panda Power is a small guy. And yet this little guy managed to find financing to build two new plants in Texas despite the current “stalemate.” One would think mega companies such as NRG or Just Energy wouldn’t have any difficulty securing financing for new plants. In fact, they wouldn’t. They just want more profits. It’s funny how Panda is “considered a maverick” when the only thing they’re doing is creating supply where there is need for demand.

Anyway, the debate over a capacity market will continue to rage. Hopefully Rick Perry’s newest appointment to the PUC, former Chief of Staff Brandy Marty, will bring common sense to the discussion and eventually get capacity markets tossed out. Fingers crossed.

Champion Energy Wins Staggering 4th Straight J.D. Power Award

In what is increasingly looking like a foregone conclusion, Champion Energy has ranked in the top spot of the 2013 J.D. Power & Associates survey for Texas electricity customer satisfaction. This marks the fourth straight year that Champion Energy has won the coveted award. Last summer marked them as the first three-time winner of the award.

From the press release:

Champion Energy Services ranks highest among retail electric utility providers in Texas for a fourth consecutive year, with a score of 764. Champion Energy Services performs particularly well in price; billing and payment; enrollment/renewal; customer service; and communications.

 

Champion posted a cumulative score of 764. Congratulations to Champion Energy!

Also of note was Green Mountain Energy, which managed to come away with the 2nd spot in the survey with a cumulative score of 737. That is a huge improvement over their 2012 score of 691, and was enough to vault them 9 spots into 2nd place, edging out Bounce Energy who had a cumulative score of 736.

Rounding out the top 5 were StarTex Power and Brilliant Energy, with scores of 730 and 720 respectively. The entire chart is listed below:

2013 J.D Power Survey Results

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post examining the findings in a bit more detail, as well as an update to the Texas Electricity Ratings rankings.

Texas Electricity and Capacity Markets: A Primer

The agenda by the power generators who create Texas electricity for a Capacity Market is being pushed harder and harder these days, and it looks like things might be coming to a head. This article by Tony Bennett, who is the President of the Texas Association of Manufacturers, is one of the most basic and straightforward explanations of a Capacity Market as I have seen. It’s also one of the most straightforward and easy to understand articles illustrating why a capacity market is a horrible idea that will only do one thing: rob from Texas consumers and give to big power generation companies. And for anyone  Continue reading “Texas Electricity and Capacity Markets: A Primer” »

Direct Energy Purchases Bounce Energy

This morning Direct Energy has announced their purchase of Texas retail electricity provider Bounce Energy. Bounce Energy, who has consistently been at the top of the Texas Electricity Ratings rankings (currently #1), has easily been the most innovative electricity provider in the country in terms of their online technology/capabilities and their success in reaching out to potential and existing customers through social media outlets.

Additionally, just recently, Bounce made groundbreaking contributions to the electricity space with the launch of their new MyAccount functionality, as well as their Build Your Own Plan functionality. The Build Your Own Plan is the only one of it’s kind in the electricity space, and allows customers to select their own plan term length, the amount of renewable energy in the plan, whether they want automated and paperless billing, and more.

In contrast, Direct Energy has long been lacking in the realm of online functionality, digital customer outreach, and a customer friendly web-portal. So on the surface, this seems like a very smart purchase by Direct Energy, but only if it’s viewed as a strategic purchase of specialists and experienced personnel to bolster some trouble areas of their business. If it is just viewed as a purchase of a customer book, then I’d purport that Direct Energy is wasting a great opportunity.

Fortunately, from some of the quotes in the press release, it looks like Direct Energy is very much viewing this as a strategic purchase:

“We are always looking for new ways to enhance our customers’ experience and satisfaction,” said Steven Murray, President of Direct Energy Residential. “Bounce Energy’s digital marketing insights and e-commerce platform will bolster our capabilities as we expand our product offerings to current and potential customers.”

 

“Direct Energy is the ideal organization with which to expand our e-commerce platform and digital marketing capabilities,” said Robbie Wright, CEO of Bounce Energy.

If that is the case, and by all appearances it seems to be a strategic purchase, this is great news for both Direct Energy and Texas electricity customers alike. Bounce’s technology and marketing savvy along with Direct Energy’s resources (which allow them to go toe to toe with incumbents like TXU and Reliant), could create the kind of Texas electricity company that will push innovation in new ways that will only benefit Texans, as well as customers in all other states Direct Energy sells electricity.

All in all, it’s a very interesting day for Texas electricity customers. The #7 company on Texas Electricity Ratings is purchasing the current #1 company, but there’s a lot of hope that the union will mean great things for customers. Congratulations to both Direct Energy and Bounce Energy!