Energy auctions save county $25M

Montgomery County, Md., has saved about $25 million in energy costs through a recent series of online auctions that pooled the buying power of 18 of the county’s agencies and other organizations.

The auction was conducted through the World Energy Exchange, a business-to-business entity that matches buyers and suppliers and automates the often-complex steps required to buy energy on the open market.

The Montgomery County Aggregation Group received 292 bids through 68 auctions, resulting in energy supply contracts totaling 611 million kilowatt hours per year valued at $125 million. The electricity will power about 616 buildings and facilities, and streetlights and traffic signals.

Steve Nash, chief of the engineering and management services section in the county’s division of operations at the Department of Public Works and Transportation, said the auctions brought in contracts for nearly double the amount of power he expected to place through them.

“We thought we might place 250 million” kilowatts per hour, he said. “The combination of knowing when to go to market, the auction’s ability to squeeze prices to the bare minimum and the supplier relationships provided over the Exchange greatly exceeded our expectations.”

The group saved 15 percent to 25 percent off the current standard prices the local Montgomery County utility offers. The group ended up placing 98 percent of its total load requirements through the auctions.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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