Progress for the Long-Term During Current COVID-19 Pandemic
Amid all the real, terrible, and difficult challenges, our job at PowerOptions is to protect Members in the immediate term on their energy costs. At the same time, a recent conversation with a Member particularly affected by the pandemic, as most are, reminded me to share what we are building for Members in the long term. This Member was among the hardest hit – a director at a senior living facility. But her words of optimism underscored the importance of keeping our eyes pointed to the horizon – “this will end,” she firmly stated.
With that view, here’s what we’re doing today and the vision we are progressing over the next 12-36 months. Today, we help Members on short-term energy costs and stability. Tomorrow, we will help them achieve their long-term energy goals.
Daily, Right Now
- Non-PowerOptions energy users are being hit in their commercial contracts with penalties for reduced energy consumption while in lockdown. PowerOptions’ Members have strong protections from changes in energy usage because of the contracts we’ve negotiated on their behalf.
- The lower energy demand caused by COVID-19 lockdowns and other market dynamics are also triggering record-low prices in many energy markets. PowerOptions is extending pricing agreements under contract for our Members to help them take advantage of this unique pricing landscape and further reduce energy costs.
- PowerOptions is fighting proposed increased energy costs on our Members’ behalf:
- At the wholesale market level, ISO-NE, from a new Energy Security Initiative, and
- At the state level, from Massachusetts’ Dept. of Energy Resources’ proposed regulations for the Clean Peak Standard.
PowerOptions is working tirelessly every day to protect Members’ immediate energy interests.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ll need robust, actionable programs to achieve our vision of meeting Members’ long-term energy goals. I want to share two specific programs we’re developing for Members over the next 12-36 months:
- Consortium Buying for Renewable Energy
Procurement for renewable energy is changing:
- New Solar + Storage projects now cost less than new natural gas power plants
- Though large tech companies like Google and Apple have been doing off-site renewable Power Purchase Agreements for years, deals are starting to move to more mainstream corporations.
PowerOptions will help Members participate in these changing industry dynamics. Just as PowerOptions uses the collective bargaining power of its Members to bring lower cost, better contract terms, and easier procurement to natural gas and electric contracts, we’ve begun turning our attention towards off-site renewables. Building on what we’ve seen in our current renewable options (on-site solar programs, green energy purchasing options, and a renewable procurement for Members we developed in 2016), Members are expressing interest in moving to 50-100% renewable energy over the next 5-15 years. Doing so efficiently takes an entity like PowerOptions who can:
- Lobby for the right regulations that facilitate procurements;
- Attract and negotiate with developers and suppliers for the right structures and terms;
- Simplify the contracting process, driving down costs through consortium-buying.
- Clean Transportation
Within the fast-paced and complex electric vehicle (EV) industry, many Members are looking to electrify their fleets in order to lower their operational costs and create cleaner environments for their constituents. PowerOptions is uniquely positioned to bring these new technologies to bear for its Members. Key components of this new capability include:
- Consortium-buying for EV buses, shuttles, fleet vehicles, and conversion kits;
- Expanding our existing EV charging station program;
- Develop innovative pricing and financing models.
There’s no doubt we’ve had to prioritize differently during these past few months. And we recognize the incredible challenges that our Members are facing, from sourcing PPE to support senior living facilities, to dramatic losses in revenues and employees for countless nonprofit Members, to personal tragedies. Please know that PowerOptions is fighting right alongside you; we’re fighting to keep your energy costs in check, and we’ve created a philanthropic fund, the Member COVID Assistance Program, to help Members in dire straits financially and to bring PPE and hand sanitizer to the Members most in need. We are also fighting to achieve the long-term vision and develop programs to help once the smoke has cleared.
We will do our best to help you manage these next few months while we look forward to a brighter future together.