Friday, June 3, 2011

Spotlight on Richards Energy Group: a member's member

Richards Energy Group is an independent 'energineering' firm (and a family business) dedicated to cutting energy costs and one of our valued High Center members.

Founded in 1995 by Frank Richards and headquartered in Landisville, Richards Energy Group has been an approved electric supplier in PA since 1999 and is also licensed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Frank and his team kindly offered to answer our questions about Richards Energy Group for the benefit of "High Ground" readers:

What services do you provide to businesses? We help industrial & commercial customers manage electric costs, including competitive power purchasing, lighting retrofits, energy audits, demand response programs for backup generation, utility bill auditing, and cost analysis.

Do you have other family businesses as clients and why have they come to you? Many of our clients are family businesses. We are local, strive to do what's best for each client, have substantial expertise and focus on service and value. So, our values are closely aligned with many other family businesses.
“We consider ourselves to be quite knowledgeable in the retail food business however, when it comes to electricity usage and procurement, it becomes necessary to have a trusted partner like Richards Energy Group assisting us with conserving, buying, and auditing our electricity usage.”
                      -- Jeffrey Good (Amelia’s Inc., Center member)
Essentially, what is your value proposition? We help clients understand and control energy costs. We invest our talents to provide optimal solutions to reduce both energy consumption and energy expenditures. We only recommend projects when the payback is good.

Now that PPL rate caps are gone, is it a good time to upgrade to high efficiency lighting systems? Absolutely. Efficient lighting upgrades are always a great idea, but now with the higher electric rates, the paybacks are faster. The systems we design usually cut electricity usage in half while improving light quality.

Does PA Act 129 (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act) help even more? Absolutely again! Rebates are available to customers of PA utilities, and in some cases have actually covered the entire cost of materials for our retrofit projects. But the funding for this program, entering its third (and potentially last) year is being quickly consumed…dollars for some utility rate classes are already depleted, so there is some urgency to getting projects into the rebate pipeline right now.

Where does the money come from for Act 129 rebates? Great question…there’s a clue to the answer on every one of our electric bills…a line item that states “Act 129” or “Energy Efficiency”. So the short answer is YOU and me. Since we have to pay for it anyhow, we might as well try to get some benefit from it.

What is the REAP users group? REAP is a unique electric power purchasing consortium established in 1998 to take advantage of the buying clout a large group can exercise over electric suppliers. REAP is an acronym for "Richards Energy Affinity Program." I created REAP, making it a "strong" group...clients give us the authority to sign electric power deals for them, so we can act quickly and effectively when opportunities arise in the volatile energy futures market.

You actually sign the Supplier Contracts? Yes, and we don't take that lightly...we also review those contracts thoroughly, and review the bills when they start coming to be sure clients actually get the deal they were supposed to. It's a unique approach, but it has served our clients well.

Does REAP work? fact, in 2003 and 2004, REAP comprised most of the load actually shopping in all of PPL. We now actively manage 1 billion kWh of industrial/commercial accounts, and provide shopping solutions no one else can offer.

A final word? We like our customers and we like "win-win". That might sound worn out, but it rings true for Richards Energy.

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