Key Attributes for Hiring the Right Energy Consultant

March 9, 2020

The hiring of an energy consultant has become the norm for large C&I businesses around the globe. Many CEOs recognize that energy is a huge cost center, and many are looking for additional ways to reduce costs and improve their bottom lines. As such, companies like Acclaim are in high demand because of their years of experience in contracting for energy, ensuring regulatory compliance, improving efficiency, reducing electricity and natural gas costs, enhancing reliability, and mitigating fiscal risks.

The question is how do you choose the right energy consultant? What experience and attributes should they possess beside some of those highlighted above? What is the difference between a broker and an energy adviser? Today, we live in a volatile market and with change comes not only opportunities but also significant risk and financial impact associated with failing to manage energy effectively.

Listed below, are the key attributes you should consider when evaluating a potential energy adviser:

  • Do they have the proven experience and knowledge? These requirements may appear obvious; however, few if any have the deep expertise or record of accomplishments in multiple markets to create the value for large users of energy or natural gas. Because the U.S. is a lucrative market, many will say they have the expertise, but it is more than just knowing how to buy power.
  • They should demonstrate an intimate knowledge of the energy markets, its participants, market mechanisms under different legal schemes, and technology. Therefore, it is important to check their credentials, because the truth is, businesses would be better served if the consultant worked in other markets previously. It is not so much where the energy market is today, but what experience they have to help your organization navigate the future of energy, data, and sustainability.

Strategic Thinking: Energy management deserves the same critical and strategic thinking as any other business activity. This means that the energy consultant needs to develop and implement robust energy strategies tailored to your company’s budget, risk tolerances, and the organizational short-term and long-term energy needs and financial objectives. This strategic thinking needs to be based on the profound insights of regulations and markets as well as understanding the idiosyncrasies and nuances of each client.

Independence: Another very important attribute for energy consultants is their independence. This means that the energy consultant has no affiliation or preference to any generator or qualified supplier, since this could skew his or her analysis. If this bias is eliminated or nonexistent, then the interests and objectives of both the energy-consulting firm and their clients can align. This alignment of interest should ensure the energy consultant stays engaged throughout the duration of your energy contract and provides objective advice to safeguard your business interests.

Commitment: In Acclaim’s experience both in the U.S. for more than 18 years and in Mexico for the past three years, we suggest you avoid consultants or brokers rushing to complete a project or providing services on a transactional basis, due to the risks and variables required to manage energy effectively. An energy consultant needs to be committed rather than seeking a quick turnaround and completion of the project. Energy procurement and the negotiation of supply contracts are not high-frequency activities where the parties can get in and out almost instantly as if they were trading stocks. These two activities require focus and determination on behalf of the energy consultant to guarantee the best outcome for the client.

Strong learners: Having extensive experience and knowledge is critical because the market and regulations are constantly evolving; therefore, it is important for them to demonstrate how they have assisted companies adjust to change. Today’s energy market requires continuous learning, so the recommendations the advisers make come from deep market understanding, bill analysis, technology, legal, etc. To benefit from a comprehensive view of the market, most good consultants will dedicate a team to help protect and ensure your business enjoys the best options.

Accountability: Energy consultants must convert their words into actions. This means honoring their commitments to their customers and suppliers. It also means operating with transparency and proven systems and processes, so they can share how they reached their recommendations or conclusions. After all, you want and need an energy adviser who is collaborative and transparent and will defend and take complete responsibility for their actions.

Strategic energy management can be very complicated, but when you have the right people on your team, with deep industry and functional expertise, you will be in a better position to protect your business and your organization’s bottom line.

If you currently hold a position of leadership in an organization that uses a large amount of electricity or natural gas, it is not too late to engage a proven expert to reap the rewards deregulation provides. Acclaim has delivered significant results and value to C&I customers across North America (including customer savings of 15 to 40 percent) for many years, and we have a 97 percent customer retention rate, so if you want to have an exploratory call to see what we can do for your business, school, hospital, etc., please contact us.