On April 10th, an article was published on Energy Choice Matters, and subsequently on Energy Manager Today that questioned the efforts of the broker community to create a better marketplace for our customers. As an organization made up of brokers, suppliers and multiple affiliate members, I feel it’s important to engage in a healthy conversation about the market, its direction and our place in it.
In the article, Frontier Utilities announced a transition from a direct sales program that utilized an in-house sales team, as well as third party energy brokers, to an online “instant quote and easy online self enrollment system” for commercial customers.
The article stated this was better for consumers because: “Due to a lack of transparency, business owners often work with a third-party broker, which can add significant cost to the electricity price for their business,” according to the competitive supplier.
As president of TEPA, I appreciate the various business models of our member base, and I am excited to see continued innovation through the application of technology. However, it should be noted that one supplier offering rates via their proprietary website does not constitute transparency. I feel this article attempts to paint the ABC Community in a poor light, while not giving credence to the significant advancements TEPA Members have accomplished over the last decade.
Energy brokers, like those who are members of TEPA, play an important role helping consumers make the best energy procurement choices, as well as upholding the integrity of deregulated retail energy markets across the country.
Rather than adding costs, a “third party broker” drives down the overall price by introducing multiple levels of competition into the transaction. Additionally, since there is not a “standard offer” contract or product in the marketplace, members of the ABC community also serve to normalize pricing, making sure that consumers are not misled by rates that may be convoluted or difficult to interpret.
There is no algorithm, program or software that can take in to account all of the factors of an evolving and highly complex market. The education, experience and industry knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of the procurement process can be best achieved by working with industry professionals.
I encourage you to open dialogue with your co-workers, customers and associates about the advantages of working with TEPA members. Your hard work and efforts continue to make our community one that we are all proud to represent.
Thank you for your time, and I am happy to discuss further.
Andrew Barth, TEPA President