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PowerSpring Targets Commercials, Citygates

PowerSpring Targets Commercials, Citygates, a newly-formed marketer-technology partnership, is rolling out a B2B website aimed at bringing price transparency to citygates across the country, to tap the next level of cost-conscious customers, commercial end users, according to John Harpole, PowerSpring executive vice president.

The key to the citygate market is adequate measurement and invoicing, which PowerSpring will provide through one of its founding partners, Metretek Technologies. Harpole's own natural gas services and brokerage company, Mercator Energy, based in Denver, CO, which served producers and end users, is the other part of the team. PowerSpring's targets, citygates and commercial customers, which are the next rung on the volume customer ladder after large industrial users.

In the past, the problem has been that while the utilities did the metering and presented customers with invoices, commercial customers did not have access to the raw data. "Thirty to 40% of the invoices they received were wrong," Harpole told a GasMart/Power 2000 audience in Denver last week. Individual meters, plus the software that goes with them, were too expensive for individual commercial customers. On the other side Metretek had just about saturated the utility meter market and was looking for new markets. solves the problem by presenting commercial customers who sign on to the system with a meter for which they will pay $1 a day. The customers also will pay 0.5% to 1% of their burnertip cost and receive audited meter readings and back office reports of their gas usage.

In addition, PowerSpring is dedicated to educating commercial end users to "how natural gas works," Harpole said, telling the story of one commercial customer who asked what a mu-bo-tu (MMBtu) was. The transaction website will also host an energy portal to help end users organize grass roots efforts to change local rules to favor competition.

PowerSpring also has latched onto an experienced e-business partner, Scient, which has created web-based platforms for a number of industries.

"We have 35 people working on an e-business platform," Harpole said. "We're hiring another 30 to 40 people, have done our first round venture capital and are planning an IPO later this year."

Ellen Beswick, Denver

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