Find the answers you’re looking for. Our comprehensive FAQ includes relevant information about all the issues we get asked about most often.
What is the role of an Energy Marketer or Supplier?
To sell natural gas and electricity to residential, commercial, industrial and other types of customers on a retail basis. Energy Marketers provide an alternative choice for consumers to procure natural gas and electricity in states that are deregulated. The Energy Marketer is the Load Serving Entity, procuring the commodity for delivery to the customer by the Utility.
What other names and acronyms that are used for an Energy Marketer or Supplier?
Retail Energy Marketer
Load Serving Entity
Retail Energy Supplier
Some of these acronyms may also have regional or state designations:
NY→ESCO, Energy Service Company
PA→EGS, Electric Generation Supplier
PA→NGS, Natural Gas Supplier
OH→CRES, Competitive Retail Electric Supplier
OH→CRNGS, Competitive Retail Natural Gas Supplier
TX→REP, Retail Electric Provider or CR, Competitive Retailer
IL→ARES, Alternative Retail Electric Supplier
IL→ARGS, Alternative Retail Gas Supplier
What is EDI?
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the electronic exchange of business information using a standardized format; a process which allows one company to send information to another company in a file, electronically rather than with paper. Business entities sending and receiving file data electronically, are called trading partners. In most electric and gas markets, EDI capability is mandated by the state and utility. EC Infosystems® is the leading provider of EDI and file transfer processing between Energy Marketers and Utilities, with over 300 clients in the deregulated energy industry and can provide this service to you.
What is FERC?
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. FERC also regulates wholesale prices. Energy Marketers retailing electricity in deregulated states must also file an application with FERC.
What is the PUC or PSC, URC and BPU?
In the United States, a Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Public Service Commission (PSC), Utility Regulatory Commission (URC), or Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is a governing body that regulates the rates and services of a public utility within their state.
These regulatory bodies also oversee the deregulated market to ensure consumer protections and fair business practices. A retail energy marketer must file an application to become a licensed supplier with the PUC, PSC, URC or BPU of the state the marketer intends to sell electricity and natural gas.
What is an ISO and which are in deregulated Electric Markets?
Independent System Operator (ISO) is responsible for the power system within a state or group of states. The ISO manages electricity requirements, monitors power production and consumption to insure there is enough electricity in the grid to fulfill the electric supply requirements. The ISO is responsible for the overall power system within its operating area. An ISO is necessary to facilitate the deregulated electric market where alternative suppliers can provide electric supply choice to consumers.
The ISOs in today’s deregulated electricity markets are as follows:
New England Power Pool (NEPOOL)
New York ISO (NYISO)
PJM ISO (PJM)
Midwest ISO (MISO)
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)
California ISO (CAISO)
An Energy Marketer selling electricity in a deregulated state, falling under the jurisdiction of an ISO; must become a member of that ISO. EC Infosystems® provides education and assistance for clients deciding to join a particular ISO.
What is a Utility or distribution company?
A large firm that owns and/or operates facilities used for the transmission and distribution of electricity, gas, or water to the general public. In deregulated markets, the Energy Marketer supplies electricity or natural gas which is scheduled to be delivered to the end consumer by the Utility.
Common Acronyms for Utility Companies:
Electric Distribution Company-EDC
Transportation and Deliver Service Provider-TDSP
Local Distribution Company-LDC
Transmission Dependent Utility-TDU
Transmission System Operator-TSO
Transmission System Company-TRANSCO
Natural Gas Distribution Company-NGDC
What are the active deregulated states?
What do Energy Marketers need to sign-up and work with a Utility?
Each Utility has a set of business forms and agreements the Energy Marketers must complete and submit. These can be found on the respective Utility’s website. Once the business forms are accepted by the Utility EDI testing is scheduled with EC Infosystems® on the marketer’s behalf. After the EDI testing is completed, the Energy Marketer is in a position to enroll customers.
What is the EDI testing, certification and approval process?
EC Infosystems®, on behalf of our Energy Marketer clients, transmits and receives EDI transactions in a test environment. Market transactions are sent and received to establish the electronic file transfer path between the Energy Marketer and the utility company, fulfilling the requirement of transaction testing. Once EDI testing is complete, EC Infosystems® moves the Energy Marketer into EDI production with the Utility. The Marketer now has a live connection between EC Infosystems® and the Utility’s systems to receive and send electronic files (EDI transactions).
Does EC Infosystems® support non-EDI market transactions?
Yes. A number of natural gas Utilities use non-EDI standard market transactions. EC Infosystems’ transaction processing service takes disparate market transactions types and translates them into a single format which can easily be used by the Energy Marketer.
In New York: What is Phase I and Phase III EDI testing?
Phase I EDI testing is a New York State requirement to receive an electric or natural gas supplier license. The Phase III is the required EDI test conducted between the Energy Marketer and a Utility to ensure the trading partners can properly transact.
Can I choose the billing type to offer my customer as a supplier?
In some cases, suppliers can choose which billing type if the Utility offers a choice of Utility Consolidated Billing (UCB) models. However, the dictates what subtype of UCB is offered. Some Utilities only offer Consolidated Rate-Ready Billing or Consolidated Bill-Ready Billing. This is determined by the Utility’s in-house billing system capabilities.
Most deregulated utilities will also give the supplier the opportunity to offer Dual Billing to their customers. In the event that Dual Billing is the chosen method, the customer would receive two bills for each bill cycle – one from the utility for delivery and a second from the marketer for supply.
Depending on the market (such as the Texas electric and Georgia natural gas markets), Marketer Bill-Ready (MBR) Billing may be another billing option. In the MBR scenario, Marketers receive their customers’ delivery charges from the Utility and combine that with the commodity charges to generate one consolidated bill to the consumer. The customer sends a check to the Energy Supplier for both parts of the bill. The Energy Supplier then remits the amounts received for delivery portion of the bill to the Utility.
Why do I need a Billing/CIS system?
While the Utility may send out a consolidated bill with the both supply and delivery charges, Energy Marketers are still responsible to provide their billing information to the utility. For a supplier in multiple deregulated territories, this process could involve sending rate information or invoice total to their trading partners. EC Infosystems’ UtiliBill™ Billing/CIS platform manages customer information, rates and automates the tasks and reports on the billing function thereby reducing the manual effort required by a supplier.
Some customers prefer a separate bill (Dual Billing) with more granular detail about the commodity charges than the Utility can provide. In this billing scenario, Marketers would require a Billing/CIS tool to generate a detailed bill for the commodity to provide to the customer.
Regardless of billing methods, Billing/CIS systems make transacting and operating with trading partners inherently simpler. From running complex reporting to managing rates to generating sales commissions, a comprehensive Billing/CIS tool gives suppliers leverage within the marketplace.
What is UBP and HEFPA in New York?
Stands for Universal Business Practices (UBP) and Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA).
UBP is a set of rules that Energy Marketers and Utilities must adhere to for providing consistent business process and procedures. HEFPA provides residential energy customers with comprehensive protections in areas such as application for service, customer billing, and payment and complaint procedures.
What services does EC Infosystems® provide to Retail Energy Marketers?
EC Infosystems® offers an Integrated EDI and Billing/CIS platform in a hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) model.
Unique EDI tools: EC Central, TrueTrack, and Utiliport, EDI, XML, and Proprietary Format transaction processing, 24x7x365 transaction processing, EDI Nonstandard services/processing, direct billing to customers via EDI
The UtiliBill™ Billing/CIS system is live in all deregulated energy markets for gas and electric. UtiliBill™ provides a user-friendly interface to complete operational tasks such as automated billing and enrollments, rate management automation, extensive operational/billing/financial reports, complex pricing structures, online bill payment, and online customer self-service modules. UtiliBill™ also offers an integrated CCH tax package solution, parallel mini-SQL database, Business Intelligence Dashboard Applet, and Consulting Services as add-ons to our standard UtiliBill™ model.
What is a TPV?
TPV stands for Third-Party Verification. In some states like New York it is required that the Energy Marketer connects the customer to a third party company to verify that the customer provides consent to switch. These confirmation recordings are captured and stored by the Energy Supplier., These TPV recordings can be automatically attached directly to the customer record in UtiliBill™ via an automated process and can be retrieved by a customer service representative
Can ECI recommend good partners in other areas of the Energy Marketer supply chain?
Yes, EC Infosystems® has relationships with the top service providers in the industry who can assist Energy Marketers in other facets of the business.
I am an existing supplier and am looking at switching to EC Infosystems®. Can I do that and what is involved?
Yes, EC Infosystems® has converted many Energy Marketers to our integrated EDI and Billing/CIS platform. Our sales staff will be glad to discuss the process with you in detail. Contact us for more information.
What are your support hours?
EC Infosystems® provides manned support between the hours of 8:30-5:30 EST.
EC Infosystems® transaction processing routines are run 24x7x365. Customers have access to their UtiliBill™ Billing/CIS and EDI tools any time.
Do you provide any training?
EC Infosystems® provides remote training to all new and existing clients. At the time of go-live, all clients receive a complementary online training Package. This comprehensive training covers the UtiliBill™ platform and EDI tools. Additional training can be purchased with the sales team.