By Simón Rios
New Bedford Standard Times
Posted Dec. 7, 2014
NEW BEDFORD — Precix, one of the city’s largest manufacturers and a global player in the o-ring industry, was on edge about its finances this fall. Though the company projects its growth at 11 percent in the coming year, skyrocketing energy prices had officials warning of layoffs.
But by joining another 100 companies in an energy buying collaborative, the company managed to chip 7 percent off its projected energy bill. It’s a welcome change in the eyes of Chief Finance Officer Lynne Mastera.
“The numbers are just so staggering,” Mastera said in reference to this year’s energy costs. The company expects to save $70,000 by joining the Massachusetts Manufacturing Energy Collaborative, a buying group formed under Gov. Deval Patrick’s advanced manufacturing initiative.
MassMEC is managed by Shaun Pandit of EarlyBird Power, an energy broker that was chosen to run the governor’s energy collaborative. Pandit said electricity prices are so high because of limited natural gas lines into the state, with 45 percent of the state’s nuclear and coal energy replaced in recent years by gas.
“The price of gas is cheap; it’s getting it to New England that’s gone through the roof,” Pandit said.
Massachusetts has the eighth highest electricity rates in the country, a common complaint from the business community. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, two-thirds of the fuel producing Massachusetts’ electricity is natural gas, representing a shift away from coal and petroleum because of the low price of gas.
As a result, National Grid providers’ prices are climbing 37 percent from last winter, while NSTAR customers can expect a 29 percent increase.
Joining MassMEC is simple. After a company registers, the group runs an analysis of its energy data, according to the MassMEC website. MassMEC monitors the market and notifies members of opportunities before procuring electricity and natural gas, continually watching the market.
In exchange for its services, EarlyBird Power gets a percentage of the final price.
Pandit said the consortium, which launched in the spring, has more than 100 customers across the state and hopes to grow to 1,500 in the coming years. Those include everything from manufacturers to restaurants to hospitals, saving more than $1 million, Pandit said.
In all, four New Bedford companies participate in the energy group, with savings of over $100,000 among them.
For Mastera at Precix, it’s nice to have energy industrial pros looking out for the company’s best interest. “They have great contacts and they work with all the local suppliers so they’re able to negotiate great rates on our behalf.”
More information about the energy group can be found at massmec.com.
Follow Simón Rios on Twitter @simonfriosSCT
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