By Jesse Berst
Consumers are increasingly setting up joint purchase agreements to get better prices from energy providers, the Washington Post reports. The latest alliance was a coalition called Groundswell made up of 103 religious and consumer groups including the NAACP and Georgetown Presbyterian Church. Groundswell will negotiate in their behalf for lower rates.
"We are seeing a detectable trend of small businesses moving to third-party suppliers," confirmed Pepco spokeswoman Mary-Beth Hutchinson to the Post.
Groundswell co-founder Will Byrne said the goal was to get members electric power
that was both clean and low cost. "We've found... that the psychology between a resident and a small-business owner is very comparable. It's not intuitive for these people that they even have an option," he told the Post. "Our idea to push for aggregation was actually an innovation to try to figure out how can we make clean energy work while delivering an economic benefit."
Prediction: In those areas with retail competition, watch for other suppliers to use this technique. It can be much easier to sign up multiple consumer groups than to sign up consumers one at a time individually.
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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.