“Retail Energy Contribution to the Community” – Summary of the EMC Webinar 6/30/2020

By Jack Doueck

On Tuesday June 30th, 2020, my partner Larry Leikin and I moderated a panel for an EMC Webinar entitled “Retail Energy Contribution to the Community.” Click HERE to view it.

Our Five Panelists included Louis DeSanto, Principal and Vice President of Park Power, Rob Cantrell CEO of Pulse Power, Michael Stein CEO of Genie Retail Energy, Darin Cook CEO of Infinite Energy and Ananda Goswami of EC Infosystems.

The Webinar was sponsored by Earth Etch, Pulse Power and Genie Retail Energy.

All four Retail Energy Provider panelists are nominees for the Leadership and Integrity Award which will be presented to the winner at the luncheon of the Energy Marketing Conference taking place on November 17th in Orlando, Florida. 

The panelists discussed their personal and corporate philosophies regarding community involvement.  They each discussed the contributions that they and their companies made to their communities during (and after) the Coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Stein noted that his company, Genie Energy, and most REPs in our industry, are giving generously to charity, doing important volunteer work and running special promotions for customers during this trying time.  “When adversity strikes, don’t just keep the lights on, make the lights brighter,” Michael said.

Rob Cantrell mentioned that 33% of Texans are unbanked and thus don’t have a bank account so their stimulus checks went directly for food.  57% of Americans can’t cover a $500 unexpected expense; there is a real need for energy companies to assist.

It was unanimous that as a group, REPs should work to improve their reputations with public utilities commissions and states. The retail energy industry does a lot more good than we publicize.  The goal is to get the word out on social media and other channels. As a group, REPs employ hundreds of thousands of people and they are also doing good work. 

Everyone agreed that REPs need to show PUCs / PSCs the good they are doing and work together to emphasize more ways that they serve customers and add value.  REPs are brining competition to an industry that has been a monopoly for over 100 years.   

Darin Cook noted that JD Power and Associates studied Texas REP customers and the average rating is better than ANY utility in the state of Florida!  He mentioned that Infinite Energy has a 4.9 Google rating.

Companies such as Earth Etch‘s people are volunteering at local community food banks doing a variety of things such as sorting, packing, keeping the and keeping the shelves stocked They assisted at mobile pantries and no-contact distributions, helping their neighbors feed their families.  They delivered meals to those in need, helping to make sure the most vulnerable have the food they need while staying safe. 

Prisma Energy Solutions, another company in the retail energy space, donated surgical masks to The Woodlands Township in support of the local community and activated the company’s crisis management plan in pro of employee safety.  They posted on social media important articles on how to volunteer or get COVID -19 help and encouraged others to support local businesses. 

Concentric Energy Advisors donated a percentage of their monthly billings to designated charities including shelters and food banks.  They gave every one of their employees $50 gift cards to hand out to their ”hometown heroes.”     

Starion Energy donated more than $10,000 to COVID-19 charities, donated masks, food, and made direct contributions to local hospitals. They demonstrated their support for local businesses, nonprofit organizations, first responders, and front-line personnel who are putting their lives on the line every day in order to help everyone overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Some of the vendors in the retail energy space re-shaped their products and offerings to better focus on charitable and social impact options.  Optimus Rewards teamed up with a number of REPs to give customers something to smile about and provide a sense of community with things like charity choice options for customers, local hospital donations, and campaigns to support local communities and businesses.   

Every year at the Energy Marketing Conference we present the nominees and winner of the Leadership and Integrity Award.  The Nominees are companies that have exemplified superior leadership and integrity in their customer interactions.  We asked our panelists what they thought were the most important qualities, values, or actions for this year’s winner.  Their responses all had to do with community involvement. REPs like to see themselves as local players that want to make a difference for their customers.  We are sure that there will be many more nominees for this year’s award, and it will be extremely difficult for us to decide who the winner will be!

“In every adversity there is a seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” We asked our panelists what the benefits or blessings that they have experienced as a result of going through this COVID-19 Pandemic.  Louis DeSanto mentioned, and the panelists all agreed that, although the pandemic was catastrophic, there were definitely positives.  More people working from home translates into less commuting, less fuel usage, and more free time. Michael Stein pointed out that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The new processes that were put into place might stay in place on a going-forward and will be a positive development for the business. One example of that is digital marketing.  This customer acquisition channel is here to stay thanks to the pandemic. 

As a result of Coronavirus, the team at the Energy Marketing Conference invested a lot of time and money in our new three-dimensional the Virtual Exhibition Hall. This will launch in July with 50 exhibitor booths and will be running 365 days’ a year.  Like our industry, we are also putting more emphasis on digital communications and media. Readership in our monthly newsletters, and attendance at our Webinars are growing rapidly – and these improvements are also here to stay.

Finally, we talked about what the Energy Marketing Conference is planning for the upcoming Fall conference in Orlando on November 17th.  Anyone who signs up can get a credit for a future conference if there are any governmental restrictions.  We will ensure that the event will be safe, educational, highly productive, the best networking ever, and loads of fun. Click HERE to register and take 20% off your registration using this coupon code: “ORLANDO20.”

See you in Florida!

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Jack Doueck is the co-founder of Energy Marketing Conferences, Advanced Energy Capital and LED Plus.