Retail electricity providers offer a variety of electricity plans that allow customers to choose the best combination of price, rate protection, and renewable energy options to meet their needs. They serve as billing and customer service entities, connecting customers to power from their regional utilities. Unfortunately, making sure they are in the most cost-effective plans is not a high priority.
Energy Ogre has successfully transformed the electricity space by building an optimized plan selection process for its members. It is the first company in Texas to work exclusively on the consumer’s behalf, and therefore fully unlocking the benefits of the deregulated electricity market.
It has been a dream of some in the industry to make a business like Energy Ogre happen for a long time, but the technology to accomplish this has only recently become available. It is practically impossible to do what they do without using highly automated systems and adaptive technology to match the best programs with an individual’s unique usage profile.
In conversation with Jesson Bradshaw, CEO.
Q. Why did you start Energy Ogre?
There was a clear opportunity to turn an industry problem into an advantage. Energy Ogre was founded on the idea that retail electric consumers would benefit from an easy-to-use platform that analyzes the many different competitive products available and identifies a good fit for the customer based on their usage and desired product attributes.
I’ve been in the power business for quite a long time and have all too often seen consumers getting out-gunned while trying to make good decisions.
The problem with the marketplace is that it is structured in such a way that assumes the consumer will be actively involved in the process, and not being so is one of the main reasons folks struggle. It’s the right thing from a consumer protection standpoint that retail providers can’t automatically roll someone from one fixed-price contract into another. Consumers have to willingly sign on to any new contract.
When people get busy or distracted, however, it’s easy for them to fall out of contract and into a variable, month-to-month situation. Or they opt to renew, even though the renewal process is typically not a competitive one.
Q. What are the benefits of your services?
Energy Ogre is an electricity management company that acts on behalf of its members to ensure they are always paying the lowest possible electricity rate. Our goal is to make it simple and easy by providing unbiased guidance navigating the complicated marketplace. Acting as an energy autopilot of sorts, we enroll our members, contract after contract, in the most competitive plans based on their usage profile and their preferences.
For a $10 monthly membership fee, we apply our technology to analyze our members’ usage, the rate plans available in the marketplace, and predictive weather profiles in all the deregulated areas of Texas, in order to match our members with the best plans for their home. We also manage the entire enrollment process and handle any issues that may arise, saving our members time and money.
But we are now well beyond just a plan picking service. Utilizing our data and analysis, we are able to acquire exclusive, custom plans with below-market rates for a majority of our members. By providing them comprehensive usage profiles, we are able to secure better pricing from electricity providers. We use every tool in our arsenal to give our members the best advantage in the marketplace.
Q. Tell us about your Savings Calculator.
The Savings Calculator is a quick and free tool for anyone in the deregulated areas of Texas to use as a “gut-check” for whether they are overpaying for electricity. Just plug in a bit of information from your electric bill and the calculator gives you a look at what you should be paying in today’s market and whether or not Energy Ogre can help you save. The calculator will tell you what you are effectively paying based upon the information provided from your bill. For example, you may think you’re paying 6 cents for electricity but in reality, you’re paying 12 cents because there’s a bunch of other charges that boost that overall rate.
Q. Has technology improved or diminished your company’s profitability and performance? If so, how?
Technology is the core of our product, and subsequently our profitability and performance. Our proprietary systems, and all of the required support systems, are critical to the service we provide our members. We are constantly updating our system capabilities and improving its functionality, as well as designing new automation to streamline our product.
Our online platform, with a web-based signup process and member portal, provides constant access and convenience for our members. We also have a mobile app, which allows members to manage their account on the go. Though our member care team is always available during regular business hours, the majority of our communications are done through email and text notifications.
How do you keep your customers satisfied?
Since Energy Ogre’s inception, we’ve tried to do business differently. Each day, we redefine what it means to be a “successful” business by maintaining our focus on the best interest and outcomes for each of our members instead of maximizing profits. We win when they win.
Energy Ogre is a subscription service, which means customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance in order to retain our members year after year. We offer the opportunity for members to provide feedback after every phone call or email, and we gauge our success by tracking their compliments and complaints.
Member referrals are a large driver of our growth. While saving our members money is our top priority, and we have saved them over $100M in the last five years, we know we have to wow members with our service so they will remain long-term members.
Q. What plans do you have for the future? Any plans for expansion?
Energy Ogre plans to help drive positive change for consumers in the electricity space by managing demand-response programs via load interrupters. The overall demand on the grid increases every year. Instead of continuously building new plants, if we change the way we use the electricity during peak demand, we can provide an altogether better solution for the system. Energy Ogre will make home automation impactful for our members by actually reducing costs, as opposed to having automation with no function beyond the “cool” factor.
Jesson Bradshaw began his career in the mid 90’s trading power in the WECC, ERCOT and SERC before taking commercial responsibility for Dynegy’s Midwest and Southeast generation portfolio. In 2003, Mr. Bradshaw co-founded Fulcrum Energy. Fulcrum’s focus was based upon commercially managing generation resources nationwide with a particular focus on ERCOT, while having both generation assets and LSE companies in its portfolio. Following the sale of those retail businesses in 2011, Mr. Bradshaw co-founded Energy Ogre in 2013.