All posts by Deana Faria

The Power of a Penny

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The minting of the penny began in 1858 and was a part of Canada’s coinage system until its final minting in 2012. After nearly six years without the penny, it might seem easy to overlook the value of a cent. Where commodities are concerned, though, the penny is still a valuable piece of the conversation.

Pinching Pennies

What does commodity pricing mean for the average homeowner? Commodity pricing affects nearly all areas of pricing either directly or indirectly, from the cost of gas to the cost of a litre of milk. Families seeking to cut back on spending often look first to reign-in their spending on non-essentials such as dining out or entertainment (all the fun!). And while responsible spending is an honorable endeavor, we’re here to tell you that savings doesn’t always have to come at the expense of the fun you work so hard to have!

A Little Goes a Long Way

Many of us keep track of gas station pricing because we know that a penny or two difference in pump pricing impacts our total expenditures. We often take measures to make sure that we get the best possible price by gassing up before the long weekend price increase or making creative U-turns when we see better pricing on a competitor’s lot. But what about the price of the utilities that run in our homes for so many hours day in and day out? How much could we be saving if we reduced the expenditure per kilowatt by only a penny?

The Johnson Family pays $0.06/kWH for their electrical utilities. This family of four averages 9600 kWH annually, resulting in a total cost of $576.00. If they save just a penny per kWH, their annual price decreases to $480.00, saving them a total of $96.00 annually!

The Burst Advantage

All utility companies are not created equal – but they do purchase electricity for the same price. The price of electricity is determined by the pool price (the cost of a megawatt of power). Retailers purchase power at the pool price and add a discretionary premium to determine the customer rate per kWH.
Burst Energy has a simple formula for determining its retail rate – pool price plus a penny. That means that Burst pricing often beats those of its competitors. But that’s not all.

Putting Albertans First

If you knew that some gas stations were owned by international entities, meaning that your money would be sent out of Alberta to support a foreign market, would it impact your choice of gas station? We believe strongly in supporting our local economy. That means that the funds generated in Alberta stay in Alberta. Burst Energy is locally owned and operated, employing only within Alberta.
We encourage you to take a minute or two, and visit www.burstenergy.ca for a complimentary bill review and quote. Investing locally is easier than you think – and it could save you many pennies along the way!

Alberta’s Job Market – A Direct Cost (Vol II.)

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Valued Customers,

When we started Burst Energy some five years ago, we did so with a mind to offer great value to families and businesses in the province that we love. To that end, we continue to hold true to our tagline: By Albertans, For Albertans. That means that we operate and employ within our great province. Your customer service representatives answer calls from our call center in Calgary, and your bills are generated and sent through departments within Alberta. Heck, even the writer of this article is a contracted fellow Albertan.

We know that we could find great people anywhere, but the owners of Burst Energy feel strongly that the right strategy is to operate and employ within Alberta. We encourage our Burst customers to start a meaningful dialogue with the people that matter most to them about the importance of choosing a provider who is invested in Alberta’s future, even if that means that they select an alternative non-RRO retailer. We believe in Alberta’s potential to remain an economic stronghold in Canada, despite its current challenges.

So, to our Burst family we say thank you! We are proud to offer our services in a way that we can all feel good about – by Albertans, for Albertans.

Call: 1-866-516-3085

Click: www.burstenergy.ca

Email: clients@mail.burstenergy.ca

For your free utility consultation

Sincerely,

Your Burst Energy Leadership Team

Alberta’s Job Market – A Direct Cost (Vol I.)

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Canadians angry as Direct Energy’s back-door exit from Canada means fewer jobs for Canadians, despite continued regulated rate subsidy.

Alberta’s resource sector has been in the spotlight recently, and for good reason. With the headlines showing potential for additional fiscal challenge, including a pipeline we own but can’t, to this point, operate; we are seeing grave shortcomings at the level of government. But that’s not all. International entities like Direct Energy are making business decisions that will have immediate and reverberating implications for Alberta’s economy, and more generally, Canada.

Background (2000-2004)
Direct Energy was purchased by UK company Centrica PLC in 2000. In 2004, Direct Energy/Centrica bought the right to Atco’s customer list, extending their customer base by approximately 1M. European ownership meant the consolidation of profits outside Canada’s borders and trading on the London exchange. While this was a concern for residents and economists alike, there were positive moves being made to support gas production, offering hope that this would counterbalance the ‘loss’.

Investing in Canada (2004-2017)
Among these strategic investments was the acquisition of CQ Energy, a Canadian exploration and production organization with significant operations in western Canada. Purchased in a joint venture with Qatar Petroleum International (40% ownership) from Suncor for 1 Billion dollars, CQ Energy Canada had ownership of 11 major Canadian facilities. At Dec 2016, CQ was producing 56 070 barrels of oil daily (of which 90% was natural gas).

Investment Loss (2017-Current)
2017 brought significant changes in Direct Energy’s operations as we saw the organization systematically divorce itself from Canadian investment. The divestment strategy, the company said, was part of a strategic move toward focusing on European assets. In line with this strategy, May 2017 saw the company sell-off its assets in Trinidad and Tobago.

On September 29, 2017, Direct Energy/Centrica sold its interest in CQ Energy for 722M to a joint partnership comprised of: Mercuria Energy Group (Switzerland), the Can-China Global Resource Fund (CCGRF), and MIE Holdings Corporation (China).

Job Loss
Direct Energy/Centrica has established call centers in Guatemala and Manila and has moved its billing departments to Texas where a third party (HCL India) handles billing services. Currently, all Canadian customer information is stored on servers outside of Canada, with its front office for billing coming (however misleadingly) from Calgary’s Post Office Station M.

Direct Energy, Atco, Enmax and Epcor are Alberta’s regulated rate providers (RROs), meaning that Direct Energy continues to receive subsidy by the millions of dollars every month despite having no meaningful Canadian presence.
With a socialist policy of subsidizing rates above 6.8 cents (Sept 2018 real cost 8.472 cents/kWh) combined with the loss of hundreds of jobs, Albertans have cause for significant concern. This year alone, Albertans will spend over 70 million of our carbon tax dollars in subsidy, and over 700 million over the life of the current RRO capping legislation.

Vote with your Business
We believe that the government of Alberta does a serious disservice to its constituents by continuing to funnel hard-earned tax dollars outside of the country without speaking openly about the available alternatives in electricity and natural gas. Burst Energy your local competitive retailer is available across Alberta and is offering fair and competitive energy rates.

So, to our Burst family we say thank you! We are proud to offer our services in a way that we can all feel good about – by Albertans, for Albertans.

Call: 1-866-516-3085
Click: www.burstenergy.ca
Email: clients@mail.burstenergy.ca
For your free utility consultation
Sincerely,
Your Burst Energy Leadership Team

2017 – A New Year at Burst Energy

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Another year has come and gone, and has brings with it many changes, challenges and opportunities.

This month, Burst Energy celebrates its 3rd year as a private player in Alberta’s utility matrix! Burst began with a vision to offer Albertans a sustainable and affordable utility platform, which would grow and change with the market.

We’ve held true to our vision of an Albertan owned and operated organization, employing Albertans from all over our diverse province, and rooting all of our products and services within the Alberta market. Burst has experienced considerable growth and development since our foray into the utility market, including the fostering of key partnerships within our communities such as YESS and AMA. We have also had the privilege of participating in community sponsorships, such as the festival of trees in Stony Plain. Our team has worked to increase awareness around green energy in our partnerships with independent retailers in the green energy sector, and have expanded our offerings to include natural gas! We continue to offer great customer support, and assist our clients in navigating the utility system in our province.

Plans for 2017
With the introduction of carbon tax in Alberta, Burst Energy will continue to stay informed and keep you informed of changes and the implications of those changes on your utility experience. 2017 will also see a focus on the continued expansion of our client base and further community involvement within our Province.

In April, Burst Energy will be featured as an AMA REWARDS Partner with the Alberta Motor Association (AMA). Do you know someone who wants to know more about Burst Energy? We encourage you to bring a friend down to Kingsway mall in Edmonton for a complimentary bill review and to be entered for a chance to win prizes! Watch our Facebook page @BurstEnergy.CA for more information about this exciting event!

Above all, we’d like to thank you for your part in making the Burst vision a success! We value our customer relationships, and look forward to continuing to serve our Burst family in 2017 and beyond.

Heating Costs Rise across Alberta

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If you have seen an increase in your heating bill over the last few months, you aren’t alone. Customers across Alberta are feeling the burn of rising resource costs, and gas bills for usage during December and January are confirming it. So what’s the Deal?

#1 Cold snaps
When temperatures dip, as they have off and on recently, usage increases across the board as furnaces compensate for frigid temperatures with more gas usage. Across Canada, users have seen an increase in the base price of natural gas. Increased cost per GJ combined with increased demand during cold days is reflected on your bill.

#2 Increased pass through fees
Private utility providers, like Burst, use gas lines owned by ATCO Gas to transport natural gas into your home where it can be used and recorded by your meter. When Atco increases the fee it charges for using their lines, that increase is reflected on your bill. In other words, it is ‘passed through’ to you.
Alberta’s Utility Commission allows ATCO to use a two-tiered costing program to determine its line fees. They charge a base distribution fee for using the line, and an additional fee for the volume of product (natural gas) that is running through it.

#3 Natural Disasters
Natural disasters, accidents, anything that damages infrastructure can prompt a line provider to increase their rates as above. Recently, the reconstruction following fires in Fort McMurray has required additional manpower and, of course, money to fix. While your region may not have been directly impacted by the fire, all of Atco’s line customers have seen an increase in fees as a result of these unforeseen rebuild costs.

Overall, Alberta has seen a trifecta of circumstantial increases that have been outside of our scope of influence as providers (i.e. base rate for natural gas, increased variable line fees and added consumer demand).
Burst Energy remains committed to providing the best possible rates for its users across Alberta. Our administrative fee remains a fixed monthly rate of $4.50 CAN – that’s our commitment to you.

For more information on Burst Energy’s Natural Gas offering, visit us at: burstenergy.ca/floating-gas-rate/

Affordable Green Sun Solar (AGSS)

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At Burst, we pride ourselves in our partnerships with like-minded organizations. Working toward a greener, healthier Alberta is what we aim for by using forward thinking philosophies and supporting other organizations in their mission to do the same. AGSS is one such Alberta based company that is making solar energy generation available to people across Alberta, and facilitating change one sunny day at a time.
Devon Lybbert is the founder and President of Affordable Green Sun Solar, and a licensed Professional Engineer by trade. In 2014, Devon was designing drilling rigs for the Alberta oil patch when he decided that it was time to change his engineering focus to more progressive and sustainable forms of energy. Along with his friend Kenny James, an expert in all things oil, they drafted a plan for their bold entry into the green energy world and AGSS was born.

Today, AGSS provides end-to-end service in the area of solar energy generation, from design to installation and even financing! Serving residential, agricultural, and commercial customers, AGSS makes the solar panel installation stress free with their full service solutions. “Many municipalities are now requiring signed permits, which as a Professional Engineer I can provide. We have in-house design capabilities and personally train all of our installers. It gives us a leg up on the competition,” he says. As if that wasn’t enough, their affiliation with the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) and the Solar Energy Society of Alberta lends further recognition of the company’s high standards of practise.

These days, even recreational vehicles are being outfitted with solar panels, which translates to steady work for Devon’s 26 salesmen and installation experts. AGSS operates all over Alberta, with highest demand for their services in the area of Lac La Biche and north.
About Solar

Anyone can achieve benefit from solar energy generation, but those whose host structure offer an uncomplicated roof structure will find the most potential for gain. “Structures with numerous peaks and crannies provide a challenge for solar installers,” he says. Residential investment generally hovers around the 15 thousand dollar mark if you want to offset your utility bill completely, with commercial varying greatly.

So what is the term of the investment? Generally, it will take about 12 years to recover your investment, but there are other items to consider. “The panels are an asset to your home,” Devon remarks. Once the panels are installed and wired into your home’s electrical system, they become a significant feature of your home and add to the home’s equity. The lifespan of solar panels is not yet fully understood, because it is still a newer technology. Don’t let that fool you, though, because these panels are warrantied for 25 years, and are expected to last no less than 30! What’s more – they’re basically maintenance free! Shower your panels with a garden hose one or twice a year, and enjoy the benefits of solar for years to come.

What about Alberta’s winter climate? AGSS has you covered. With winter months in Alberta seeing significantly less daylight than in summer months, only about ¼ of the generation can occur. AGSS offers credits for your solar generation through the summer months, to be used in carrying you through winter without relying solely on traditional power sources. AGSS panels run slightly warm; warm enough to keep your panels clear of snow and ice and keep maintenance requirements at a minimum.

What’s next for this new green energy player? “Once carbon tax details are defined, we will know more”, says Devon, “at this point we expect to see the increased cost of diesel generators, frequently used in remote areas up north, to increase by 4%. That’s a lot for a company to absorb”.

“Alberta still has a long way to go,” Devon admits. With Alberta’s energy grid capacity for solar energy at around 10%, the potential for growth from the current 2% mark is impressive. Devon and his team work constantly to develop new ways for solar to meet its potential in the utility market. With upcoming changes in January 2017, AGSS may find themselves busier than ever. And when that happens? “We’ll be ready,” he says.

Feed in Tariff Program

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At Burst Energy, we believe in giving credit where credit is due. We believe in the green energy movement, and the power of every Albertan to change the energy landscape by changing the way we do things both drastically and incrementally.

The green energy discussion in Alberta is often met with confusion. The ‘who’ and ‘how’ of getting involved is often muddied by the fact that although the concept of green is generally understood, the lack of available subsidies to smaller generators is marginal at best, turning a well-intentioned effort into a careful calculation of affordability, following the cessation of the FIT program’s predecessor, Light Up Alberta, in 2014. The timeline to pay down the investment in green energy generation is often too hard a pill to swallow for the average family or business.

The good news? The FIT program is here!

We see you, micro generators! We know what you’re doing for our province’s energy grid, and we want to recognise you for your contribution to a cleaner place for Alberta families to live and grow.

If you are a micro generator, or have taken an interest in the concept of microgeneration, you will no doubt be interested in hearing about the FIT program offered in Partnership between Burst Energy and Green Alberta Energy.

The FIT program is a voluntary program, and free to join simply by speaking to your Burst Representative! FIT channels $0.0166/kWh back to you, the generator, and allows you to offset the costs associated with microgeneration. As a Burst Energy customer, the payments will be listed as a credit on your billing statement. You might be surprised what a difference a few extra pennies can do for your investment!
The program is privately funded by people who care about the proliferation of subsidy programs for green energy producers. Our aim is not only to recognize micro generators, but to foster public awareness about the prevalence of such producers in Alberta and spark larger dialogue about how to get involved and how the Provincial Government can help.

You are making a difference, let us help take the pressure off. Call your Burst Energy provider today to request to be a participant in the FIT program.

FIXED RATE REMINDER

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ARE YOU PREPARED FOR RISING ENERGY COSTS? FIX IT!

The end of summer is around the corner, and the coziness of fall is on its way! Families are preparing to re-enter the routines of school, sports and homework! As the seasons begin to change, it is worth noting that winter will bring with it rising costs, due to additional heating and lighting needs. Combined with this increased usage is the real potential for cumulative increases in resource costs as the new carbon taxation program comes into effect.

Beginning Jan 1, 2017, Albertans will see the costs of consumer products rising as a result of, among other things, transport costs associated with getting consumer goods to the consumer. With the uncertainty around what the true cost to consumers will be, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your utility bills will remain consistent?
We can help!

Act now to lock into one of our fixed rate plans and pay just 5.76¢/kWh through December 2018, or only 6.49¢/kWh through December 2020! *(Offer valid through October 31, 2016).

Burst Energy is pleased to offer a variety of plans to consumers for residential, agricultural or commercial purposes. Reduce the risk of climbing rates by locking in to a fixed rate plan today. Our fixed rate plans ensure that you pay a consistent rate despite any market increases for the duration of your guaranteed contract! That means added security against rising costs for your business, your family and you.
Let us help you make 2017 a great year! Contact your Burst provider today to lock in, or see our Fixed Rate options in detail at Our Rates.

Carbon Tax and the Consumer

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Despite all the discussion around the NDP’s plan to introduce a carbon tax in Alberta, you may feel you’re foggy on the details and you’re not alone. Most of us know that it will cost us more at the pumps, but uncertainty remains as we begin to understand that this move will have far-reaching impact on consumer and industry behaviour within our markets.

The Climate Leadership Plan, which launches January 1, 2017, will impose an initial tax of $20 per tonne for one year. The 2018 fiscal year will see an increase to $30 per tonne, with some producers and manufacturers being eligible for government rebates. As producers and manufacturers incur costs associated with the carbon tax, consumers will undoubtedly see price increases across the board. Predictions in the increase to household expenses vary among analysts, anywhere from $500 to over $1000 annually. These numbers will be greatly impacted by factors such as rebate accessibility, the transportation costs of goods, and consumer purchasing habits.

There have been many questions left unanswered regarding the Climate Leadership Plan, among consumers and producers alike. With no clear timeline on the carbon tax plan outside of its commencement date, Albertans are looking for ways to shield themselves from the uncertainty of rising resource costs.

The good news?

You don’t need to be at the mercy of rising utility prices. Burst Energy’s fixed rate program provides cost stability through 2020! Fixed rate pricing allows you to avoid the uncertainty of rising utility costs by ‘locking in’ at a fixed rate. Visit us to find out how fixed rates could benefit your budget and your financial peace of mind. It pays to be part of the Burst family!

Bakx, Kyle. “Alberta’s carbon tax: What we still don’t know.” CBC News . CBC News, 24 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.

Rieger, Sarah. “Alberta’s Carbon Tax Might Be A Major Blow To Cities.” Huffpost Alberta. HPMG News, 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 23 July 2016. .

Practical Energy Cost-saving Tips

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In Alberta, the transition to summer means that days are longer, and everything seems just a little bit brighter. It also signals a break from costs associated with heating our homes. Less utility expenses means more money to spend on summer fun, but don’t overlook the major power consumers in your home. Power bills can add up during the summer months as costs associated with items like air conditioning and fan use rise. Here are some practical ideas to help you save on utilities year round while limiting your carbon footprint!

1. Limit Dryer Time
No one likes wrinkly pants, but consider a compromise. Throw your just-washed items in the dryer for ten minutes to steam out those wrinkles, and transfer to a drying rack or flat surface to finish the drying process. Your clothes will be ready to wear in no time!

2. Limit A/C and Fan Use
High heat during the summer months can be uncomfortable, and if you’re lucky enough to enjoy an air conditioned living space you know just how great they can be. Despite this, these systems are major power consumers in the home. To limit associated expenses, try setting your air conditioner‘s thermostat to a warmer heat setting. You’ll still feel relief when coming in from outdoors, and you’ll be saving more of your hard earned cash. Don’t leave the air conditioners and fans running when you’re out, and look to practical ways to compliment your system’s cooling efforts by keeping curtains drawn in the heat of the afternoon and drink plenty of cool water.

3. Pack Your Dishwasher
Fill ‘er up! Your dishwasher is working hard whether it is half full, or filled to capacity. Make the most of each load by loading it to capacity, and washing pots and other large items by hand. You’ll run fewer weekly loads and maximize efficiency.

4. Don’t Use Dry Cycle
The element in your dishwasher is not only used during the washing process, but continues by drying your dishes near the end of the cycle. Consider setting a timer to avoid the dry cycle! Open up your washer, and let those dishes air dry.

5. Wash in Cold Water
Technological advances in laundering appliances and detergents mean that your clothes can be washed in cold water. You’ll save on hot water and avoid accidentally shrinking your garments.

6. Turn the Lights Off
Get into the habit of turning lights off in unused spaces, or limit lighting sources in areas of high use. Get the whole family in on it! Our extended sunlight hours make this an easy cost saver during the summer months.

7. Unplug Unused Appliances
It might seem silly, but appliances that are plugged in are drawing a small amount of power even while they’re turned off, just by being part of the electrical circuit. Going out of town? Never use that spare room television? Consider unplugging while not in use.

8. High Efficiency Lights
If you haven’t joined the masses in transitioning your lighting from incandescent to high efficiency LED, what are you waiting for? These lights are longer lasting and save you money each and every time they’re used, in comparison with their incandescent predecessors.

9. Programmable Thermostats
Programmable thermostats are a must-have for any home or business owner all year round. Set your thermostats to maintain lower temperature when you’re sleeping or away, and increase that temperature to a comfortable room temperature when you are home. Want to save even more? Grab some cozy slippers and your favorite sweater at home. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save.

10. Check for drafts
Older homes, in particular, commonly develop drafty areas where cold air can enter and warm air can leave. Check your window frames and doors for drafts, and install weather stripping to keep cold air out.

Written by: Deana Faria