Every business needs electricity to function. But most business owners rarely give it a second thought, going to work each day and flipping a switch, taking it for granted that the lights will come on.
But businesses have more at stake than just the lights coming on. Without electricity, computers won’t work, equipment and machinery won’t run and your IT infrastructure will be unable to operate. And why would you want to leave all of that to chance, when there are reliable, affordable options to choose from?
All electricity suppliers are not equal. By taking the time to do your research and finding a supplier that not only delivers electricity but acts as a partner to your business, you can reap benefits far beyond what you could by simply choosing the lowest-cost provider, says L. Gene Alessandrini, senior vice president of marketing at PPL EnergyPlus.
“Electricity is critical to businesses, yet many fail to do their homework and find a supplier that best meets their needs,” says Alessandrini.
Smart Business spoke with Alessandrini about what businesses should look for in a competitive electricity supplier, how finding the right partner can help your business move forward and why going with the lowest-cost supplier isn’t always the best idea.
What should businesses look for in a competitive electricity supplier?
Many business leaders see price as the driving force behind the selection of a competitive electricity supplier. And while price is certainly important to a business, there are other factors to carefully consider and research before you commit to a contract on something as important to your business as electricity supply.
First and foremost, choosing an electricity supplier should be a partnership. An electricity supplier should be more than a commodity supplier. Your business runs on electricity, and it can’t run without it, so you should expect a trusted voice with an established reputation to partner with you to meet your needs.
Right now, electricity prices are as low as they have been in several years, but they won’t stay that way forever. A trusted electricity supplier that takes a partnership approach will help your business understand market trends, minimize the impact of price volatility, educate your business on best practices for smart energy usage and provide a consultative approach.
You want an electricity supplier who stays connected to your business’s current and future energy needs, not one that just takes a one-size-fits-all approach to supplying power.
Why shouldn’t a lower price be enough to make a business switch suppliers?
Wholesale electricity prices are lower than they have been in several years due to the increased availability of natural gas and reduced electricity use as a result of the slow economy. Good deals abound in the current market, so many competitive suppliers are offering prices that could reduce your electricity costs.
Keep in mind, however, that price should never be the only factor when a business is choosing a competitive electricity supplier. A conscientious electricity supplier will offer a combination of competitive pricing with customizable products and services, and an understanding of both your business needs and energy market performance that help businesses for the long run.
An electricity supplier with extensive experience will help your business navigate through volatile market trends and identify ways that it can help your business become more energy efficient or that you can potentially earn revenue from your energy use. An electricity supplier that also offers related energy services to help businesses with mechanical needs or renewable energy needs also can help make a long-term difference beyond price.
The bottom line is that price is one factor, but it’s important to consider the benefits that result from having an industry expert on your side with additional products and services that create greater value.
Why is experience an important factor when a business is selecting a competitive electricity supplier?
An electricity supplier with extensive experience and industry knowledge, one that takes a dedicated and thoughtful approach to your business, is a valuable asset to have on your side. For example, if you are a business with multiple facilities, you should be looking for a strategic partner that understands complex transactions across multiple locations. Also, many companies today are looking to make their business greener. If that is the case, you should be looking for a strategic partner that can offer renewable energy solutions and energy efficiency services.
Many competitive electricity suppliers are able to offer a low price but not all of them have the industry experience to effectively negotiate the market with an understanding of your particular business energy needs. A knowledgeable electricity supplier forms a dedicated relationship to understand your business and how it uses energy and when its peak demands are, then applies that knowledge to help you meet your bottom line.
An electricity supplier that takes a comprehensive approach to your energy usage needs is part of the partnership that goes beyond the initial sale, resulting in a smarter use of electricity that could ultimately benefit your bottom line.
L. Gene Alessandrini is senior vice president of marketing at PPL EnergyPlus. Reach him at [email protected] or (610) 774-4483.