Mayor Michael A. Nutter joined the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Councilman Darrell Clarke, Councilman Wilson Goode, and City officials to announce the creation of Philly Buying Power, a city-endorsed energy purchasing program that will pool the energy demands of interested small businesses to get them competitive prices on their electricity bills. Sazon Restaurant & Cafe, a small business participating in the program, hosted the announcement. Philly Buying Power provides opportunities for commercial consumers to benefit from deregulation, weather potential volatility in the energy generating sector, and increase the affordability and percentage of sustainably produced power in their supply.
“Because this is uncharted territory for businesses, the City wanted to help them navigate the new marketplace,” explained Mayor Nutter. “Philly Buying Power allows businesses and non-profits to buy electricity with confidence and put their money into growing their organizations instead of paying energy bills.”
When PECO rate caps expire at the end of the year, Philadelphia businesses will be able to purchase electricity generation from a supplier of their choice. In other cities with expiring rate caps, generation suppliers have competed to serve larger businesses, institutions, and residents. However, suppliers often have made fewer competitive offers to small and medium businesses.
In October, the City selected Taylor Consulting and Contracting, a Pennsylvania-based energy management firm, to operate Philly Buying Power through a Request for Information process. The RFI sought a consultant to form a buyer’s group of Philadelphia businesses and administer an on-line auction for electric utility providers to compete for the aggregated electrical demand of the buyer’s group. A selection committee including Councilman Clarke, Councilman Goode, Councilman Jones, Councilman Kenney, and representatives from the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic American Chamber, the Law Department, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, the Department of Commerce, and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability chose Taylor as the most qualified respondent to run the program.
The City endorses Philly Buying Power to let Philadelphia businesses know that Taylor has experience building and operating successful energy aggregations, including one in the City of Boston. Taylor recently opened an office in Philadelphia to recruit, enroll, and service businesses in Philly Buying Power. They anticipate increasing their local workforce as the Philly Buying Power program grows and holding their first auctions for 2011 energy generation in late November or early December 2010.
“As customers make their electricity decisions for 2011, we hope all businesses will consider joining Philly Buying Power,” said Christopher Booth, Vice President of Taylor. “In addition to the procurement of energy, Philly Buying Power will provide enrollees with a state-of-the-art utility management system and access to energy services which will help businesses reduce and manage their electricity consumption.”
Taylor will group Philly Buying Power members with other businesses that share similar energy use profiles, and suppliers will bid for the opportunity to generate electricity for each grouping. The supplier that bids the lowest price wins a contract to generate power for the group. Over time, the buyer’s group and their total purchasing power will continue to grow, increasing the ability of the group to command lower prices from energy providers.
Sazon Restaurant & Cafe, a restaurant serving home-style Venezuelan cuisine at 941 Spring Garden Street, enrolled in Philly Buying Power to reduce their 2011 electricity expenses. Judith Suzarra-Campbell, chef and co-owner, explained, “We’ve gotten calls, mail, and visitors, all claiming that they can reduce our electricity costs. With so much information out there, we weren’t sure who to trust or how to approach buying our electricity. Philly Buying Power lets the experts get us the best deal at no risk or cost to our business.”
“The City is pleased to offer this innovative tool to help Philadelphia businesses make smart choices about energy, saving money and advancing the Greenworks Philadelphia goal of reducing citywide energy usage 10 percent by 2015,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “This is another great project proving that an environmentally friendly Philadelphia is also a business friendly Philadelphia.”
“Philly Buying Power creates exactly the kind of competition deregulation was intended to promote,” said James Cawley, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission. “From a policy standpoint, everyone wins – suppliers are able to secure customers and the customers get great rates from their collective buying power. The PUC applauds the City of Philadelphia and Taylor for implementing this creative program.”
Businesses in Philadelphia and surrounding communities can enroll by visiting http://www.phillybuyingpower.com or http://www.phila.gov or calling the local Taylor office at 215.558.5185.