Answers to Your Small Business Energy Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing A New Supplier
Q: Do you have green or renewable energy plans?
A: We offer green and renewable energy plans for our business customers in states where we offer competitive electricity and natural gas service.
Q: Will my local utility treat me differently if I buy power from an alternate energy provider?
A: No. Your utility is bound by law to provide equal service to all of its customers regardless of your provider of electricity or natural gas supply.
Q: Will Constellation need to replace any existing electrical or natural gas service components such as service wires, transformers, meters, or pipelines at my location?
A: Physical modifications are not required because we deliver electricity and natural gas through the same transmission and distribution system owned and operated by your current utility. Your utility will continue to service all equipment as well as respond to any power outages, and you will continue to be charged for those services directly by the utility.
Q: Do I have to notify my utility?
A: No. Once you have signed up for one of our pricing plans, we will take care of contacting your current utility on your behalf. You will receive a notice from your utility confirming your selection of Constellation as your electric power supplier.
Q: Is my business’ information safe?
A: Yes, we are required by law to keep your information confidential.
Q: What steps do I need to take to choose a new supplier?
A: The process is easy:
• Have your utility account information ready.
• Review our pricing plans.
• Carefully read the terms and conditions for your plan.
• Choose the plan you like and fill out the simple form online.
Q: Are there any fees incurred when switching service to Constellation?
A: We do not add additional charges or fees when a business switches to our service. Some utilities may charge a fee or do a true-up when a business switches from utility service.
Q: Before choosing a new supplier what other factors should I consider?
A: We suggest that you look at your current bill to see how much you are spending on electric or natural gas generation supply, learn what your savings could be, do adequate research and do not hesitate to ask questions.
Q: If you decide to stop offering services in my area or if my utility goes out of business what will happen?
A: If the third party provider currently providing service to you discontinues service, your utility would continue to provide service to you as your provider of last resort at applicable tariff rates. For further questions, please contact your state’s public utilities commission.
Q: How do I contact Constellation Energy’s customer service to discuss billing or other non-utility issues?
A: If you have a concern or question, call us at 1-877-997-9995 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh) and where can I find kWh on my bill?
A: A kilowatt-hour is the standard unit of measure for electricity. Specifically, a kilowatt-hour is defined as the unit of energy that is expended on one hour by one kilowatt of power. The total number of kilowatt-hours charged to your bill is determined by your electricity use.
Q: Whom should I contact if I have a question regarding the status of energy competition or licensed retail energy providers (REPs) in my market?
A: You should contact your local Public Utility Commission or Public Service Commission.
Q: Whom should I contact if I would like to file a formal complaint against my electricity or natural gas supplier?
A: Formal complaints may be filed with your local Public Utility Commission or Public Service Commission.
Q: What do I do if my power goes out?
A: Contact your local utility and report the outage. Your local utility, or distribution company, is still responsible for maintaining the reliability of the transmission and distribution system, including the poles and wires that deliver your electricity or natural gas supply to your facility.
Q: How can a competitive supplier like Constellation offer a lower price than my utility?
A: As a competitive supplier of electricity and natural gas, Constellation can provide pricing options that more closely reflect the current market.
Q: What stays the same if I choose a new supplier?
A: Everything else. You will continue to receive reliable service. Service components such as wires, pipelines, meters, and transformers will remain where they are. Physical modifications are not required because your energy is delivered through the same transmission and distribution system owned and operated by your utility. Your local utility will continue to be responsible for delivering electricity and natural gas, and costs associated with those delivery services will continue to be charged by your local utility at your current rates.
Your bill will appear the same as it has in the past. Your utility will continue to service all equipment—such as meters, wires, and pipelines— as well as respond to any power outages.
Q: If I pursue Energy Choice and select a new supplier, what changes?
A: Choice allows you to pursue pricing options and plans for the generation supply portion of your energy bill that may be lower than what your utility is currently offering. You may also experience improved customer service when you choose a new energy supplier.
Q: How do Energy Choice and competition help keep costs down?
A: Energy Choice means that you, as a customer, can choose the product and supplier best suited to your needs. Competition forces suppliers to compete for your business, thus encouraging them to find more efficient and better ways to serve you. In a traditional utility system model, there is no competition, thus there is little to no incentive to create efficiencies or manage the overall cost risks.
Cost-effective energy is important for keeping the U.S. economy healthy and prosperous. Energy is linked to all aspects of the economy. The cost of energy is a component of virtually everything we buy or use. Just as businesses shop for the best prices and products in long-distance phone services and airline tickets, Energy Choice can help businesses keep expenses down.
Q: What exactly is open to competition as a result of Energy Choice?
A: When a state or province restructures its electric or natural gas utility industry, customers can select their competitive electricity or natural gas supplier. The electricity "generation" (power plants) or natural gas supply part of the business is open to competition. Still regulated, however, is the local electric and natural gas distribution company that owns the poles, wires and pipelines that actually deliver that electricity and natural gas supply to your business. Additionally, the local utility company keeps responsibility for the overall reliability of the transmission and distribution system.
In states where customers can choose their provider, a customer's electric bill will show a "generation" or "supply" charge representing the fee for how much electricity or natural gas supply was used. The bill will also include the charges owed to the utility (also known as the "distribution company") for delivering power to customers via its poles, wires and pipelines.
Q: What is Energy Choice and what is its purpose?
A: Energy Choice is a term used to describe the situation where consumers have the option to select who provides their electricity or natural gas supply. In competitive or restructured markets, the traditional monopoly structure for supplying electricity and natural gas to retail consumers is opened to choice and competing suppliers. This happens via a legislative or regulatory initiative and is addressed at the state level. Energy Choice is still in its early stages, yet customers are already realizing its benefits - more competitive energy prices, improved customer service and technological and product innovations have been spurred by retail competition.
Q: When Should I Enroll in Load Response?
A: Now! Contact your Constellation NewEnergy representative today. We will help you determine curtailment capability, answer technical questions and help you enroll your account as soon as possible.
Q: Why Choose Constellation NewEnergy as Your Enrolling Participant?
A: While other Load Response providers may often turn to on-site diesel generators during ISO-mandated curtailment events, Constellation NewEnergy can work with customers to develop a variety of curtailment strategies ranging from the simple use of back-up generators to more sophisticated load management initiatives.
Q: Am I Penalized if I am Unable to Participate at my Proposed Level?
A: Each ISO administers its own version of Load Response with specific and unique rules and regulations. Penalties related to non- or under-performance may result in a reduction in future payments, or may involve a financial penalty. Penalties are program-specific and vary widely.
Q: How Does my Company Get Paid for Load Response?
A: Load Response is unique in that customers can earn money from - rather than pay for - the service. Though payment structures vary by region and type of Load Response program, a customer typically receives payment following settlement in the form of either a check, automated wire transfer or bill credit. This may occur monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Q: What is a Baseline?
A: A baseline is a calculation of a customer's typical electric usage. During a Load Response event, curtailment of actual load is measured against the baseline, and it is this delta that represents performance during a Load Response event, and thus becomes the basis for the calculation of payments. The methodology for baseline calculation varies by region and in some cases by electric utility.
Q: Will I Need Equipment Upgrades to Participate?
A: This depends on whether or not your facility is currently equipped with an interval meter capable of reading your consumption in hourly increments.
Q: Are There Any Risks to Enrolling in a Load Response Program and Earning Financial Incentives?
A: As long as you meet eligibility standards and are willing and able to comply with program and market rules, there is generally little risk involved in enrolling in a Load Response program for anyone committed to it. However, in many areas there are penalties for non-performance or not properly communicating with the service provider. Participation in such programs helps to stabilize the electric grid and thereby helps to reduce the risk of blackouts, and as a result it is important that participants can and do perform as required.
Q: How Does my Organization Get Paid?
A: Settlement is the process by which a customer receives payment for their participation in Load Response. The Load Response provider measures and verifies data from a Load Response event, which is sent to the ISO or utility to become the basis for payment. The Load Response provider then receives compensation directly from the ISO or utility and distributes it accordingly to customers. In some markets, payment can occur even without an actual deployment event.
Q: How Does the Enrollment Process Work?
A: In order for an end-use customer to participate in Load Response, they must contract with a Load Response provider, such as Constellation Energy. A Load Response provider is registered with the Regional Transmission Organization / Independent System Operator (RTO / ISO) or utility, and facilitates communication and program management between the customer and its ISO/utility. Though specific services and requirements vary by region, it is generally the enrolling participant's job to work with the customer to determine the appropriate level of curtailment capability, assist in any on-site equipment requirements, and then complete registration directly with the ISO or utility.
Q: How Can Load Response Participants Curtail Electric Load?
A: Participants can reduce electricity consumption in two ways:
Curtailment: turning off lights, raising temperature set-points or changing production schedules. Self-Generation: emergency backup generation, distributed generation or UPS systems.
Q: How Does Enrolling in a Load Response Curtailment Program Help Your Organization?
A: A load response program can help organizations earn economic incentives by reducing their electricity load (i.e. curtailment) at times when the grid is under stress. When demand starts to increase on the hottest or coldest days of the year, Load Response programs are activated across the region to help ease the power grid. These programs were created to help reduce the need for additional generation resources and to prevent blackouts. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), power grid operators, state utility commissions, and various state agencies helped form these programs.
Q: What is Load Response?
A: Load Response, sometimes called demand response, is the reduction of electrical consumption at the end-use customer level in response to high wholesale electricity prices, system resource capacity needs, or system reliability events.
Q: When you Buy Green Power, How Does the Green Power Reach Your Business?
A: In order for renewable electricity to benefit the environment, it doesn't have to reach a specific end user. The important fact is that the renewable electricity is delivered to the electricity grid. The generation of zero- or low-emitting electricity has benefits to the environment, no matter whether your business uses a specific, renewable-generated electron. By purchasing RECs, you help support the operation of renewable energy generation.
In a typical "green power purchase" an electricity consumer pays for generic electricity from the "grid," and also separately purchases RECs from one or several renewable energy facilities in an amount that match all or a portion of the actual electricity purchase. Consumers may be able to buy RECs from their electricity supplier and have the cost included in their bill, or they may purchase RECs separately from a supplier.
Q: What is Green-e Energy?
A: Green-e Energy is the nation's leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy and companies that use renewable energy. Green-e Energy sets consumer protection and environmental standards for renewable electricity products. Green-e Energy standards address such issues as the environmental performance of the facility, the year in which the facility began operation, and the year in which the REC was generated. The Green-e Energy label certifies that the power is from an eligible renewable energy resource.
Q: What is the US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design?
A: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was developed to act as a national benchmark in the design, construction, and operation, of environmentally friendly buildings. LEED provides a framework and checklist for new and existing structures wishing to meet set benchmark standards. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum are currently the ascending levels of recognition that can be attained for buildings seeking to meet LEED benchmark standards. RECs can be used to gain credits under LEED.
Q: What is the Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership®?
A: The Green Power Partnership® is a government program that encourages companies to purchase renewable energy. As part of the program, technical and analytical information is made available for participants regarding renewable energy. By joining the partnership, press and communication support, the allowance to use the Green Power Partnership logo, and a company profiles on the partnerships page, are provided. There are over 750 members of the Green Power Partners, accounting for over 10 billion kWh of green power purchased annually.
Q: What is the Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders® Program?
A: The Climate Leaders® Program is a government initiative that works with companies to set achievable individual GHG reduction goals. Companies agree to inventory their GHG emissions, set an aggressive reduction plan, and report annually. In return, the Climate Leaders Program provides marketing opportunities for the organization through print, and web-based media. For companies to meet their goals, technical assistance is provided. Currently there are more than 100 organizations that have partnered with Climate Leaders Program.
Q: What is a Carbon Offset?
A: An offset is an action taken to reduce or store carbon dioxide (or other GHG emissions) in one place to compensate for the emissions of carbon through another activity. Practices that can offset GHG emissions include energy conservation, reforestation, and the destruction of methane from waste. Renewable energy can sometimes be used to address carbon emissions from electricity purchases.
Q: What are the Benefits of RECs?
A: A REC allows attributes of renewable power to be "stored," unlike electrons which are used immediately. Renewable Energy Credits make it easy for a buyer to purchase green power because they can be sold separately from electricity. They can be purchased from a variety of locations, and the REC purchase can be based on any amount of electricity. Buying RECs provides support to renewable resources, and in certain cases, the buyer may adjust its emissions from the purchase of electricity.
Q: What is a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC)?
A: A REC represents the environmental attributes of one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity generated from renewable sources delivered somewhere on the power grid. The attributes may be sold separately from the associated electricity. Attributes represented by a REC include the fuel source (wind, solar, etc.), actual emissions from the facility, the location and vintage of the facility, and the date that the MWh that produced the REC was generated. Learn more about RECs.
Q: What is Renewable Energy?
A: Renewable Energy, also known as green power, is energy generated by the sun, wind, earth, and water. These resources replenish themselves naturally. Renewable energy fuels include solar, landfill biomass, wind and geothermal.