When you go shopping, look at the labels on your purchases and you will probably find that a lot of products come from China, Mexico, Guatemala, India, or the United States. But if you take the time, you can find the products you want to buy are “Made in Canada.”
In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else – even their jobs. “Buy local” is not just a catchy slogan, it’s a way of living, and the heartbeat of our economy.
There’s no doubt about it, it takes a little more effort to figure out where goods come from instead of simply buying based on fancy labels, slick marketing programs, or a heavily-advertised brand name. When you start digging into where the things you buy come from, you may just find that you are saving someone’s job. The job you save may be your own, your neighbour’s, your child’s, or even your grandchildren’s.
But what does this have to do with Get Energy and the electricity that you buy for use in your home? Unfortunately, Alberta’s Regulated Utilities do not have to put a consumer label on the product they are selling to you. If the opposite were true, here’s what ours would say:
“Get Energy, selling electricity and natural gas to residential consumers and businesses, is a local and privately family-owned company with roots in Fort McMurray dating back to 2005.”
If utility companies in Alberta had to label the products they sell, here’s what you might find out if you took a look at one of the RRO providers: Direct Energy.
Direct Energy is being sold to NRG Energy, an American company headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey. On July 24, 2020, NRG entered into a purchase agreement focused on diversifying its business by acquiring Direct Energy, including all their government regulated electricity and natural gas customers in Alberta.
In short, the government’s RRO business with Direct Energy is being bought, sold, and traded and if you are a Direct Energy Customer, you are being sold with it.
Naturally, the acquisition is still subject to approval by the shareholders of Direct Energy, as well as customary closing conditions, consents, and regulatory approvals, including the Canadian Competition Act. But given Direct Energy’s history, these are mere formalities.
Do you want one of our province’s major government regulated rate utility retailers to be run by an American company?
Direct Energy has a long history of this kind of business. They have already moved their customer care call centre from Alberta to Manila in the Philippines, then to Guatemala, and its billing processing to Texas. They also sold off their Alberta natural gas holdings to a joint partnership including Mercuria (HQ Geneva), Can-China Global Resource Fund (in part, funded by China Exim Bank), and MIE Holdings Corporation (HQ Hong Kong).
As part of its attempt to cut costs, Direct Energy outsourced its technical information technology requirements to HCL of India. By the end of the year, Alberta will have a new provider of energy once the sale closes and NRG Energy of the United States takes control.
Even with all the outsourcing that the management of Direct Energy undertook, their administration fees charged to consumers have not gone down.
If you are a homeowner and currently enrolled on the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) provided by Direct Energy, take a look at your utility bill for September. You are paying 7.3 ¢/kWh, up 15% from the previous month. Some government approved RRO prices charged by other retail utilities are even higher.
As one of many competitive Energy Marketers in Alberta, Get Energy’s guaranteed rates are lower than the RRO. Additionally, the 30-day average for our floating variable rate, which is indexed to the real cost of generation, was 4.99 cents/kWh. The difference between our current price and Direct Energy’s RRO is an astonishing 32%.
Why pay more for your electricity? If you are looking to shop around, there are many Alberta based companies who are offering lower rates than the government RRO (including Get Energy!).
If you are a customer of Direct Energy, not only are you paying more, the profits earned do not stay in Alberta. They are consolidated on the financial statement of their parent company Centrica in the UK, which in turn is selling off their North American holdings to NRG in order to raise cash to fund their planned European and African expansion programs.
Many of the people Direct Energy used to employ here in Alberta have been laid off. When the sale is concluded, will more Albertans get their pink slips? Why is our government allowing the regulated rate business to be sold off to an American company? With the latest move by Direct – what does the future hold for their customers?
Get Energy is selling electricity at competitive prices. The profits are not shipped out of the country, jobs are local, and we are investing back into our local community. In fact, we are giving 50% of the ongoing revenue for every customer that enrolled/enrolls between July 1 and September 30 to the Fort McMurray Boys and Girls Club (Check out the details here!)
It’s time to send a message to Direct Energy’s new American owners. Our government should be encouraging Albertans to switch over to an Alberta-based company. Switch over to a company that didn’t ship jobs offshore. While you’re at it, save money on your utilities.
Check out our rates, you’ll find that they are more than competitive.
There is no longer a need for the government to continue to offer franchised protection that they have given to our province’s regulated utilities, especially when they have shipped jobs out of the country. It is time to bring the jobs back home and show support for local businesses.