A new study finds all is not well with the relationship betweenenergy marketers and service companies and their commercialcustomers. Indeed, BENTEK Energy Research says “commercialcustomers feel marketers and ESCOs promise prices that are notrealized, under-perform on services, and they are not meetingcustomers’ needs in helping to reduce their energy consumption.”

The study found large commercial customers embrace energyderegulation and want to centralize their energy procurement andmanagement functions into a limited number of suppliers, but theyare distrustful of prospective suppliers and service providers.Commercial customers perceive non-utility energy companies aspromising prices that frequently cannot be realized. In addition,several survey respondents expressed skepticism that energycommodity suppliers will aggressively help them reduce energyconsumption. Service companies, particularly those related toequipment manufacturers, are also viewed as too prone to promotetheir own company’s equipment instead of recommending the “best”solution.

BENTEK says commercial customers are ripe for aggregation, andone route to aggregating customers is through various industrytrade associations. “The slim margins available to marketersoperating behind most LDC territories makes sales to the commercialmarket highly problematic,” said Porter Bennett, BENTEK president.”Marketers need to find ways to provide value to customers beyondthat which is inherent in the commodity. Becoming a total energysolutions provider is one way to achieve this goal.”

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