About Honest Gorilla

Tell me a little about yourself. What is Honest Gorilla?

Honest Gorilla is an energy brokerage with a purpose-driven mission to transform electricity from a commodity service to a means for social good. We are at the intersection of technology and transparency because let’s face it, the energy industry could use a little updating. We’re busy creating an energy experience that is engaging, custom to you and honest in pricing. We gain nothing by simply displaying rates on a website, so we accompany and guide you through the energy shopping process to help you secure an energy plan that we feel best suits your building profile, energy usage trends and lifestyle.

What problem is Honest Gorilla trying to solve?

Since the advent of energy deregulation, many have tried their hand at creating a better mousetrap to capture market share and acquire the greatest number of customers. Unfortunately, the uninitiated or misinformed consumer has paid the ultimate price of paying higher-than-average energy bills each month. Customers have often come to us saying they feel misled, misunderstood or manipulated. Their decisions at that time were only as good as their options (or understanding).

At Honest Gorilla, we are transforming the very business model of energy. By taking a personalized approach to shopping for a better energy plan, we are leveling the playing field and bringing transparency to a confusing marketplace. Our honest recommendation algorithm sorts through all the fine print details and recommends only the top offers we believe are worth considering.

No more guesswork, grueling spreadsheets, or staring at a buffet of options to choose. Our goal is to put an end to your perpetual frustration each time it comes to shop for an energy plan. The brilliant minds at Honest Gorilla have reverse-engineered every portfolio company’s pricing, so you don’t have to waste any more time trying to figure it out on your own. Let Honest Gorilla be your advocate and go to work for you. If it makes sense, it will save you dollars.

How is Honest Gorilla’s buisness different?

Energy providers, suppliers, marketers, advisors, brokers, consultants — whichever you may have used in the past — have traditionally placed profits before customers. This means their profitability is more important than providing customer service. That is why we take the time to get to know you and how you use energy, so we can make an honest recommendation of the energy plans that we believe to be worth considering.

We’ll send you notifications letting you know when it’s time to renew. The energy companies call it “customer loyalty” when your contract ends and your plan defaults to a variable market rate. Instead, we call it opportunity, because it gives us another chance to serve and remind you why you chose to work with us in the first place.

There is no monthly out-of-pocket fee to use our service. Honest Gorilla was structured differently. We take a fixed fee out of your monthly payments (fractions of a penny), pay our agents and technology partners (along with some unavoidable expenses), and use the rest to perfect our algorithms and continue delivering value to our clients. In essence, we treat the fees we earn from your energy consumption as fuel to keep our company going and growing, while setting aside a percentage of profits in our annual ‘Giveback’ called ‘Light of Unity’.

Giveback is a unique feature of Honest Gorilla, where each year an allocated percentage of money is donated to Light of Unity, our social impact initiative. Honest Gorilla uses the fees earned from each client to fund the company’s operations and growth plans, giving back any leftover money to help people, in whatever capacity, to illuminate the world.

The more customers we have using our platform, the more we get paid. It’s like a performance bonus or a management fee that your private wealth manager earns every month to make you money. Honest Gorilla works the same except we save you money, which means you’re making money to save and spend on yourself, your family and loved ones, doing things you enjoy!

How does the honest recommendation algorithm work exactly?

Like the Coca-Cola secret recipe, there’s only a few people that really know how the honest recommendation algorithm works. From what we’re told, our engineers go through meticulous detail reverse-engineering every portfolio energy company’s pricing; modeling out each of the terms, charges and fees included in the fine-print; then pair up your responses to each of the questions in order to create a usage profile; and run it through the algorithm to see which plans to recommend.

It was confusing when we heard it for the first time, you’re not alone. But that’s how you see your average monthly bill and price per kWh for each recommended plan. It’s a bit of a different approach than just picking a plan by guessing which usage tier you fall into and hoping you chose the cheapest plan, or running your own spreadsheets (that’s if you go to this extent).

Why aren’t you showing a long list of all the energy plans offered?

We love going through the Chinese buffet and getting googly-eyed when we see all of the amazing food options to choose. After doing that a few times, we observed there were only a handful of items we put on our plates and even fewer items we liked enough to go back for seconds and thirds. Gleaning from those experiences at the buffet line, we figured shopping for energy triggers the same human behavior. Why display a bunch of options only to confuse and frustrate customers! That is why we recommend a single plan, but we know that not everyone will settle on the first thing they see, so then we expand the selection and let you see a few more. We don’t want to overwhelm you, just give you enough options for you to make an informed decision so that you feel you made the best decision.

How are you using the fees earned from my energy consumption?

So glad you asked! No matter how a company tries to spin the way they get paid, nothing is free. Ultimately it is the customer that pays for the service. Our fee is baked into the price you pay, there is no separate bill or charge to your credit card. This takes care of developing cool technology, running an energy brokerage business (including salaries, rent, and such), and hopefully making some profit at the end of the day. This way, our desire for profit does not conflict with our duty to provide valuable service and keeps us all in alignment to help make this world a better, brighter place.

How can I access Honest Gorilla?

Honest Gorilla is available either on your smart phone or desktop computer through our website. There is no app that you have to download to get the full experience. We currently provide electricity solutions to residential, commercial and industrial customers within ERCOT, the deregulated parts of Texas. We’ll be rolling out additional energy providers, services and states in the coming future. Stay tuned!

When can I expect Honest Gorilla to be available in my state?

If you’re living outside of Texas in an area that is open to retail energy competition, we’re on our way. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How can I reach you guys?

You can get in touch with us directly through the mobile or desktop versions of our website. Look for the ‘Help’ button on the lower right corner of this page. If you are considering Honest Gorilla, feel free to get in touch with us using the message box on this page.

Deregulation Explained

I’m new to deregulation. What is it? How does it work?

Believe it or not but banks, railroads, airplanes and telephone companies (even energy companies) were once monopolies. There was only one company in each category you could do business with. We had no choice as customers. Matter of fact we weren’t even called that, we were referred to as ‘rate-payers’. Because no matter the rate, we had to pay their fee. We had nowhere to go and complain or shop to find a better deal.

If you’re on our website, chances are someone said you can choose your energy company and that we could help you find a better deal. Since you’d like to know more about energy deregulation, we figured a picture is worth a thousand words. Peep the infographic below.

Honest Gorilla Dereg 101 Infographic

Great, but how does deregulation really work?

If you never liked art class and don’t like to interpret those artsy pictures, we get it. You want the quick and skinny version. Here it goes: when you choose an energy provider, the local utility company or transmission distribution provider does not change. The local utility still owns the poles and wires, reads your meter, handles all emergencies, and transmits and/or delivers energy to home or business. The only thing that changes is whose logo appears at the top of your bill, the price you pay for energy and who you call for questions. That’s it.

Why are there so many energy providers? How do I know which one to choose?

Energy deregulation spawned retail competition, and competition created an environment where the strong strive to survive. Then there are the fledglings that try to make it, the up-and-comers and the savvy tech innovators that are trying to change the world one kilowatt-hour at a time. Regardless, everyone is fighting for your business, everyone is touting they have the best options and cheapest plans. But how do really know who’s telling the truth? Who can you trust to tell you the truth? What is the truth? That is when you can count on Honest Gorilla. It says it all in the name, because ‘In a world of 800lb gorillas, we are honest.”

BTW, what’s up with your company name? Why Honest Gorilla?

When we were coming up with a name to call ourselves, we wanted to go with Honest Energy but it was already taken. Then GoDaddy recommended ‘Honest Gorilla’ and immediately it was love-at-first-sight. It speaks to the heart of the company motto: ‘Shop for energy, save with confidence.’

Side note: according to Wikipedia, an 800lb gorilla (even though gorillas in the wild never reach more than 600lbs), is an expression for an organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the rights of others or the law; or a corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush any would-be-competitors.

Even though we are in the startup phase of our company’s lifecycle, we did not want to be mistaken by the competition as naïve. In a world where perception is reality, we felt the only way for us to go toe-to-toe with the big boys (aka 800lb gorillas) of the energy industry was to be transparent. We wanted to deliver value to our customers where we felt everyone else was missing the mark. And so it is said, that ‘In a world of 800lb gorillas, we are honest.’

Back to the deregulation stuff. What happens if my power goes out? Who do I contact in the event of an outage or emergency?

Just because you switched providers does not mean you’re going to receive less quality service. It is commonly understood everyone has refrigerators full of food, as well as pets, animals and loved ones that have certain requirements that demand electricity, and whether that can directly affect us if we are without the AC or heater running. Energy is an essential service and by law, everyone is treated equally and without discrimination. If you happen to experience a power outage, no need to panic. Simply call your local utility provider and they will do their best to restore power to your premise at their earliest convenience.

When I switch providers, will there be any noticeable difference in the quality of service?

Switching energy providers isn’t like changing your home phone service from landline to voice over IP (the internet) and you experience those robotic or jittery sounds. Truth is, there is no differentiation in quality of the energy itself. All electrons were created equal. There are no Gucci, Walmart or Coach electrons. They all flow down the same poles and wires and right into your home or business. Your lights won’t flicker or shine any brighter or dimmer when you switch from Company X to Y, then Z and back to X. You may be thinking the phone company said the same thing too. Except the difference with energy is that it flows in a very specific sinusoidal curve pattern (remember trigonometry, sine and cosine) and if it’s off in any way, then it will wreak major havoc. So technically, the quality of your service can’t be any different or we’d all be in trouble!

What about all this talk about going green. If I buy an energy plan that says it comes from renewable sources (like wind or solar), does it mean it comes directly to my property?

Only if you have grid-tied windmills or solar panels connected to your property via an inverter, then yes. You are getting 100% Pure, Grade A, Non-GMO, Vegan, Certified Organic renewable energy. Otherwise, our answer is no.’

When you see “renewable content” listed on an energy plan’s Electricity Facts Label, that refers to the percentage of energy coming from renewable sources of power generation. By way of an analogy, think about it this way..

There are multiple fuel sources to generate electricity or different types of power plants like nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydro, wind, solar, and biomass to name the more common types. When electricity is generated, each power plant pours their electricity into a massive ocean (aka the grid). As each power plant pours their electricity, it all gets mixed together making it difficult to know the fuel source of a particular sample. When you have a certain percentage of each different fuel type mixed together, this is called “generation mix.” In like manner, without getting any more technical, each energy provider finds the right generation mix in order to offer their customers competitive rates.

Coming back to the question, unless explicitly stated in the Electricity Facts Label, what you receive at your home or business is a mixture of different fuel types. For example: A% from nuclear, B% from natural gas, C% from coal and D% from a combination of renewables.

Switching Process

Is there a charge to switch providers?

Technically, there is no charge to switch providers if you’re within 14 days of your contract expiration date, or if your contract has already expired. Be sure you meet either of those 2 scenarios, otherwise you will be subject to early termination fees assessed by your current energy provider and those sometimes can be onerous. But, if you’re moving-in to a new house, apartment, townhome, condo etc., there are different rates (i.e. move-in fees) depending on how soon you need service turned on. These fees are subject to change but typically don’t exceed a few dollars, each utility’s fees are different.

What if I change my mind after a few days of signing up?

If you happen to change your mind and decide you want to cancel or go with another plan, then no worries. Just be sure to read the Terms and Conditions so you know the details. To avoid paying any early termination fees, typically you have 3 days to cancel from your original date of enrollment. Again, contact your energy provider to explore your options and learn about their specific requirements.

How long does it take to switch energy providers?

It all depends on when your enrollment is accepted by ERCOT (the governing body that oversees electricity deregulation in Texas) and when it occurs in your meter reading cycle. Generally, switching can take 1 to 2 billing cycles, sometimes less if you process a “self-select switch date” — in which case you can select a date 14 days prior to when your contract expires without penalty from your current provider.

Will I experience any interruption in service? Do I have to let my current provider know I am switching or pay my bill even though I am leaving them?

Switching providers is a seamless process. Once you submit your information on the Honest Gorilla website, the computers will talk with each other to get make sure you get switched over. If there’s ever a hiccup, you can ensure our fine operational folks and those at your new energy provider will work their Oz-like magic to get you onto their platform.

Whatever you do, please do not contact your current energy provider letting them know you are switching, there is no need to get them involved. We take care of everything. If you have an outstanding bill, be sure to pay up and bring your balance to zero. Otherwise, failing to do so can delay your switch and/or confuse the entire process. And no, you cannot get away from paying your bills. Your current energy provider was kind enough to let you use their energy for a full month before they billed you for it, so make sure you pay the ‘final bill’. You don’t want any hiccups or issues later down the road.

What if I (have to) move before my contract ends?

Just because you signed an energy contract does not mean it’s the end of the world for you. Put it this way, if you are moving to another area that is deregulated, then you can request a “move-out, move-in” from your energy provider. This allows you to take your current contract with you to the new place and enjoy all of its benefits. If you’re moving to somewhere that is not deregulated or you’re moving into a situation where you will not be able to fulfill the terms of your contract, in most cases, you’ll just need to provide documentation showing proof and can avoid having to pay an early termination fee. Don’t just take our word for it, be sure to read the Terms and Conditions of your agreement or contact your energy provider to be sure.

I used to have X company, but switched to Y and Z for a while. Can I come back to X, or will that be weird?

TBH nobody really cares. It’s not like you’re dating your energy company. They’ll actually be excited to have you back as a customer! (FYI, TBH means ‘to be honest’)

[ALERT: Technical question] I was told I cannot switch providers because I have a switch-hold on my meter. What is that and how can I get rid of it?

A switch-hold is a mechanism or market transaction that energy providers use to prevent customers from switching providers when their service has been disconnected for non-payment until they pay the outstanding balance. It keeps customers from gaming the system by switching providers when they don’t want to pay their energy bill. To get a switch-hold removed, simply contact your energy provider and show documentation that you are a new resident occupant and not associated with the customer for which the switch-hold was imposed.

Contract Stuff

Is there a “best” time to start shopping for a new energy provider?

When it’s your money on the line, you’re the best judge of how, when and who to spend it with. But we don’t mind giving you a couple of pointers to guide your decisions.

(Pro Tip #1) We generally recommend you try and start (or end) your energy contract between November and March. Try to avoid signing an agreement that starts (or ends) between April and October, those months are generally referred to as “peak” and is when rates tend to increase or be the most expensive (i.e. hurricane season, hot summer temps, supply/demand etc.).

(Pro Tip #2) It’s a good matter of practice to keep an eye on energy rates, especially if you locked in when rates were “high.” If you’ve been keeping up with how much energy your home or business consumes (if not, we can help), and know how much is your early termination fee, then you could consider breaking your contract to secure the new, lower rate if it makes financial sense. You have to be very careful when exercising this option to make sure you know how much it would cost to leave, but if there’s enough money to be saved, then it’s definitely worth considering.

As tempting as it may sometimes be to “wait and see” what prices will do tomorrow (or later this week), that strategy may end up costing you in the end. When you see a good rate, we generally recommend you lock it in because there’s no guarantee how long that price will hold or change against your favor.

(Pro Tip #3) You save the most amount of money when choosing the right energy plan, and it does not matter how many LED lights, Argon-filled, double-paned windows, radiant heat barrier, 14+ inches of attic insulation, smart thermostats, or 16+ SEER HVAC system you may have. If you experience a high rate at the wrong time, all that money you spent upgrading your home could be awash. All it takes is a couple months of high energy bills to wipe any savings you may have been looking forward to or had realized. Let’s not be mistaken though, making all those upgrades are great, but we recommend you implement them when financially feasible.

I checked rates yesterday and they are different today. Why are they constantly changing?

Energy rates are no different than fuel prices you find at the local gas station. Factors that can affect price volatility include geopolitical forces, economic conditions, weather (extreme temperature and weather related events like hurricanes, snowstorms) and general supply and demand. If you really want to get a feel for this stuff and see how electricity or natural gas has performed, then follow natural gas futures contracts on the NYMEX. That is the best indicator and underlying commodity for energy prices.

Why do you typically recommend fixed-rate contracts over variable or indexed?

When it comes to your home or business, we tend to be risk-averse. Fixed rates come with certainty, security and peace-of-mind knowing that your rate will not change, that’s why like we them and view them very favorably. Your usage will vary each month depending on your lifestyle, household and preferences, but to the extent you can minimize risk, it’s generally a good idea to secure a fixed-rate.

Index or variable rates are good if we are in a down-market and rates are declining, that’s about the only time they’re a good idea. Or if you’re looking for a short-term solution because your present situation won’t allow you to commit for a longer term. Otherwise, just one month of unpredictable weather, shortage of supply or increased demand could send rates through the roof and give you a heart attack. To the extent no one has yet discovered a crystal ball that foretells the future, we recommend the boring yet safer route of price certainty (aka fixed rate plans).

My credit isn’t all that great. I haven’t established credit before. What are my options?

No one’s credit score is perfect and, like our grades back in school, it is something always in need of improvement. Whether you have a social security number, poor credit or no credit, have no fear because we have a solution for you.

You could always pay a couple hundred dollars to post a deposit, but who has that kind of money laying around?! With pre-paid energy (which is only available in Texas), you can get started with a low, upfront payment and have your power turned on same day, in some cases. Pre-paid energy works like a debit account. Whatever amount of money you put in your account is how much energy you’re able to use (i.e. fund your account with $25 and get $25 worth of electricity). This will get the kids to turn off the lights real quick when they leave a room! Not to mention it teaches them good habits.

You even receive daily notifications letting you know much you spent or used and how much remains. This is a great way to budget your cashflow, help the environment and build your credit back up. It’s kinda like extra-credit back in school.

Can’t I just go to the energy provider’s website and sign up there?

There’s nothing holding you back to check others, but chances are you’ll be right back here where you started. It won’t take you long to find the value that Honest Gorilla provides and the very frustration we had when we started this company. We aren’t selling rates, we’re providing an experience and opportunity for you to make a difference.

Lower prices? Your quote was higher than I found elsewhere. What gives?

We have injected technology to lower our cost of operations to offer competitive rates. While our prices tend to be cheaper than the more established market participants, we recognize that may not always be the case. Energy companies use different pricing models and algorithms to set their rates, and on occasion our prices may be higher than someone else’s. That’s just how numbers work statistically and we understand that reality. If it’s any comfort, please remember that any leftover money will be contributed to Light of Unity, so go ahead and use Honest Gorilla anyway! What are you waiting for? Let’s get started.

Givingback and Light of Unity

Energy brokering works by pooling small amounts of money (commissions) earned from a large group of customers who sign up for the service. Since our fees are based on how our customers use energy, and aren’t directly involved with provisioning customers (the part that actually bears the risk of providing competitively priced energy service), there is some money left-over after all expenses have been paid. We take this money as profits. Instead of keeping this money all to ourselves, we intend to pay it forward to help bring positive social impact to local communities and global initiatives.

Light of Unity is our social impact initiative. We were inspired by the quote, “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” And so we have taken that literally to heart. We want to be the spreaders of goodwill and help shed light on any person, family, entity or organization locally or globally whose light could be further illumined.

Many are choosing to spread the love and make this world a better, bright place simply by using Honest Gorilla as their conduit to finding a better energy plan. As our community grows, our social impact becomes even stronger.

Note: the Giveback is currently not recognized as a tax deductible donation, sorry!

Why doesn’t Honest Gorilla donate to other charities?

Social impact is baked into the core of the business. It is our core philosophy and the very reason for the founding of Honest Gorilla. We could’ve partnered with various charities, but we wanted to start something new and different. We didn’t want to just send a check and get a ‘thank you’ note in the mail. To giveback to our own initiative is an opportunity for us to serve at the grassroots. This allows us to create community, be hands-on and connect with local and global community members in impactful and memorable ways that we can then share and inspire others.

When do you pay the Giveback?

At the end of February each year, we recommend to the board how much we’d like to Giveback and pay it on March 1st.

What happens to my Giveback if I cancel my contract?

Because the way our contract reads with each of our portfolio energy providers, the allocation of profit towards Giveback is based on the total number of active, paying customers. If you cancel your contract, not only are we penalized but we miss out on those fees we would’ve otherwise collected.

Is the Giveback guaranteed?

No. Giveback is a feature of our policy, and our intent is to pay it every year, but considerations to overall profitability, company viability and sustainability must also be given. The decision to Giveback is at the sole discretion of the board.

Commercial Energy

Why does Honest Gorilla need copies of my energy bills? And specifically, why two?

The same way that a doctor checks your vital signs to see how healthy you really are, the experts at Honest Gorilla evaluate your energy bills to see how effectively your business is using energy and identify how we can help you manage your energy expenses. We are looking for trends and patterns from one month to the next to see if anything has changed, that is why one bill is simply not enough. Your personal information is not included on your energy bills, so no need to worry about that. We are mostly interested in the numbers. Our analysts home in on things like your service address, meter number, utility account number or ESIID, the type of product, energy and demand charges, payment history and contract expiration date.

What is a Letter of Authorization (“LOA”) and why do I need to sign it?

Letter of Authorization can sound real formal and intimidating, but don’t fret, you’re not signing over the rights to your business. It is NOT a contract. In layman terms, the LOA is nothing more than a fancy way of calling the form a permission slip. The LOA grants us permission to access two things from your local utility provider: (i) how much energy (i.e. supply) your business consumed over the past 12 months, and (ii) how you consumed that energy (i.e. demand). Once we have obtained and analyzed all of the data, including the information we extrapolated from your energy bills, we then use it to engage our energy providers in a reverse-auction and have them compete for your business.

I’ve heard of an auction, but what is a reverse-auction?

Instead of prices going up, as they do in a typical forward auction, prices go down in a reverse-auction. Because we have relationships with many energy providers, we make them compete for your business. We effectively create a market where competitive pressures force the energy providers to offer their lowest and best prices to win your business.

Why do you have relationships with multiple energy providers?

Every client has different business objectives; no two businesses are alike. Each business owner or operator requires different terms, products, payment options and has different credit history, therefore it is our goal to pair clients with an energy provider that meets each client’s needs. And, to take full advantage of our platform, leverage and negotiating power, the more energy providers we have in our portfolio the better it is for our customers. When there are more energy providers, you win due to increased competition.

Can’t I negotiate energy prices myself? Why do I need an energy advisor or broker?

Of course you can, but do you think you would get a better deal than someone whose sole job is to negotiate and win energy contracts? We often hear customers say, “I used to just call up three energy providers, compare each quote and choose the cheapest one.” That may work for some, but most clients have been unsuccessful using that strategy and that is why they turn to Honest Gorilla to help them source and negotiate energy contracts on their behalf. Here’s a few reasons why clients choose to work with us:

Have you ever bought something and then found out a short while later that somewhere else was offering a better deal for the same exact thing? It’s a not-so-good feeling knowing that you left money on the table. Now, imagine having knowledge of that other deal before you went shopping! Having an energy broker or advisor works the same way. We save you time and money. Here’s how:

  1. The same reason why your customers trust and repeatedly give you business, analyzing energy data, shopping and negotiating energy contracts is our business. That is something we do all day, every day. We have subject matter expertise because we have negotiated energy contracts for plenty of customers, large and small.
  2. Fail to choose the right plan and the wrong plan will choose you. There’s more to it than just securing a fixed rate, especially when you’re burning lots of energy. Oftentimes predatory products can be disguised as friendly low prices, and unless you know what you’re doing, you could be taken advantage of. You don’t want to be faced with questions about how you are going to keep your doors open or staff employed due to high energy bills. When we price deals for our clients, we take into consideration everything, not just each of the pricing elements and lock-in a low rate for all of your supply charges, but also your financial goals and future plans for your business. Sounds complicating, because it is. Just one or two months of high energy bills and you could be up late at night trying to find answers to some of your career’s hardest questions.
  3. We know what prices have done historically, what prices and products are currently being offered, and have some level of market insight into what they could be doing in the near future. We don’t claim to have a crystal ball, but if past results can be an indication of future performance, then we have a slight edge and can advise you accordingly;
  4. We have relationships with not just one or two energy providers but many, and that makes us a clearinghouse of sorts. Since we interface with a bunch of energy providers, we have an advantage seeing see what products and pricing everyone is offering all at once. Unless you like to shop, after about the second or third request, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or confused. So leave the shopping to the experts.
  5. Because of the volume of energy that we close on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis, we are able to negotiate favorable terms for our clients and pass along those savings. It’s the difference between buying a can of your favorite soft drink at the hotel convenient store vs going to a wholesale club and buying a case or pallet of the same and comparing the per unit price. In the case for using Honest Gorilla, you buy the amount you need for your business except you pay competitive, low prices.

What is the difference between fixed rate and variable or indexed rate?

Having a fixed rate means that the energy charge is fixed and is not subject to market volatility. No matter what the season, weather pattern, or economic condition we are experiencing, your price per unit of energy will always remain the same. Of course, the total amount you will owe at the end of the month will vary, as it depends on how much energy you used, but the price you pay per unit of energy will remain fixed.

Contrary to a fixed rate which, in most cases, is known to provide price stability and security, variable or indexed rates vary each month. The energy charge is determined by the cost of some underlying index, usually the natural gas futures contracts traded on the NYMEX. And similar to the stock market, the NYMEX is constantly changing. These products are generally cheaper than fixed rates because they transfer risk from the energy provider to the customer.

Consulting with Honest Gorilla will help us better understand your risk tolerance so that we can recommend a solution that best caters to your needs.

When is a good time to lock in a fixed rate vs signing up for a variable or indexed rate?

Honest Gorilla will be able to consult with you as to what product could make the most sense for your budget given your particular circumstances and business objectives. For educational purposes, however, fixed rates are a great option for most businesses looking for price security and certainty as they are typically not subject to change. It is best to lock in when energy prices are on the rise. On the other-hand, variable or index rates become attractive options when the market is trending downward and prices are notably decreasing. In essence, you want to ride the rollercoaster down and lock-in when prices go up. It sounds easy when reading it here, but timing these events and foreseeing these circumstances is left to the energy gods and carefully consulting one’s risk management protocol to determine the preferred path forward.

Can I switch now, even if I’m in a contract?

The beautiful thing about commercial energy contracts is that there is much more flexibility than there is with residential contracts. With commercial contracts, if you see that rates are low and you want to take advantage of it, then you can sign a contract today to start one year into the future. This implies you don’t have to terminate your existing contract. You can ride out your current contract and proceed with the knowledge that you have a great rate waiting for you a year from now. This sounds amazing, we know!

In case this sounds too good to be true or are slightly confused, let’s play out an example to help you better understand this concept of a Futures Contract or Forward Start Date. Let’s say for instance that your current contract will expire in six months’ time. Being the opportunist that you are, you notice that prices have gone down and you want to take advantage of today’s low rates. Well, guess what….you can! You can sign a 12 or 24 month contract today to start in six months from now. Talk about taking advantage of market opportunities!

Rates are low and I want to lock-in my rate. Can I get out of my contract, or am I stuck?

Yes and no. Buyer beware: you can always get out of your contract, but you may be subject to paying an Early Termination Fee (“ETF”). You will want to consult the contract that you had previously signed to see how the ETF is calculated and how much it will cost you to terminate early. If you experience any difficulties figuring out this information or calculating your ETF, we can always assist. Depending on the market situation, it may be advisable to pay the ETF and secure a lower rate today or doing a blend-and-extend. There have been countless cases where either scenario makes sense. We will be happy to do a cost-benefit analysis to see how different scenarios will play out and identify which strategy ultimately is to your financial benefit.

What is a blend-and-extend?

In some cases, it may not be financially feasible to pay a large lump sum to offset the Early Termination Fee. Securing a blend-and-extend contract can be a way to save money now, without any out-of-pocket expense, and spread out the cost of energy over a longer period of time, especially if on a higher rate and noticed that rates have gone down.

Here’s how a blend-and-extend deal might work: let’s assume that you’re currently paying $0.10 per kWh for electricity and are into the second year of your three year contract. Let’s say that your energy provider is projecting electricity prices will drop next year to $0.06 per kWh. If that’s the case, then you could extend your current contract another year, lock in next year’s price of $0.06 per kWh, and blend it with this year’s rate to pay only $0.08 per kWh starting today and through the third year of the contract as well. This would mean you’d be paying $0.02 less this year but $0.02 more next year.

What if my business gets acquired, we acquire another company, move, add or close down some locations?

That’s exactly why would want to count on Honest Gorilla…to help you navigate through complex situations like these! Ever tried selling a house “For sale by owner” and then quickly realized that’s not your gig? We will serve as your main point of contact throughout your relationship with us and will interface with your energy provider to ensure your business needs are met and to your satisfaction.

FAQ

Tell me a little about yourself. What is Honest Gorilla?

Honest Gorilla is an energy brokerage with a purpose-driven mission to transform electricity from a commodity service to a means for social good. We are at the intersection of technology and transparency because let’s face it, the energy industry could use a little updating. We’re busy creating an energy experience that is engaging, custom to you and honest in pricing. We gain nothing by simply displaying rates on a website, so we accompany and guide you through the energy shopping process to help you secure an energy plan that we feel best suits your building profile, energy usage trends and lifestyle.

What problem is Honest Gorilla trying to solve?

Since the advent of energy deregulation, many have tried their hand at creating a better mousetrap to capture market share and acquire the greatest number of customers. Unfortunately, the uninitiated or misinformed consumer has paid the ultimate price of paying higher-than-average energy bills each month. Customers have often come to us saying they feel misled, misunderstood or manipulated. Their decisions at that time were only as good as their options (or understanding).

At Honest Gorilla, we are transforming the very business model of energy. By taking a personalized approach to shopping for a better energy plan, we are leveling the playing field and bringing transparency to a confusing marketplace. Our honest recommendation algorithm sorts through all the fine print details and recommends only the top offers we believe are worth considering.

No more guesswork, grueling spreadsheets, or staring at a buffet of options to choose. Our goal is to put an end to your perpetual frustration each time it comes to shop for an energy plan. The brilliant minds at Honest Gorilla have reverse-engineered every portfolio company’s pricing, so you don’t have to waste any more time trying to figure it out on your own. Let Honest Gorilla be your advocate and go to work for you. If it makes sense, it will save you dollars.

How is Honest Gorilla’s business different?

Energy providers, suppliers, marketers, advisors, brokers, consultants — whichever you may have used in the past — have traditionally placed profits before customers. This means their profitability is more important than providing customer service. That is why we take the time to get to know you and how you use energy, so we can make an honest recommendation of the energy plans that we believe to be worth considering.

We’ll send you notifications letting you know when it’s time to renew. The energy companies call it “customer loyalty” when your contract ends and your plan defaults to a variable market rate. Instead, we call it opportunity, because it gives us another chance to serve and remind you why you chose to work with us in the first place.

There is no monthly out-of-pocket fee to use our service. Honest Gorilla was structured differently. We take a fixed fee out of your monthly payments (fractions of a penny), pay our agents and technology partners (along with some unavoidable expenses), and use the rest to perfect our algorithms and continue delivering value to our clients. In essence, we treat the fees we earn from your energy consumption as fuel to keep our company going and growing, while setting aside a percentage of profits in our annual ‘Giveback’ called ‘Light of Unity’.

Giveback is a unique feature of Honest Gorilla, where each year an allocated percentage of money is donated to Light of Unity, our social impact initiative. Honest Gorilla uses the fees earned from each client to fund the company’s operations and growth plans, giving back any leftover money to help people, in whatever capacity, to illuminate the world.

The more customers we have using our platform, the more we get paid. It’s like a performance bonus or a management fee that your private wealth manager earns every month to make you money. Honest Gorilla works the same except we save you money, which means you’re making money to save and spend on yourself, your family and loved ones, doing things you enjoy!

How does the honest recommendation algorithm work exactly?

Like the Coca-Cola secret recipe, there’s only a few people that really know how the honest recommendation algorithm works. From what we’re told, our engineers go through meticulous detail reverse-engineering every portfolio energy company’s pricing; modeling out each of the terms, charges and fees included in the fine-print; then pair up your responses to each of the questions in order to create a usage profile; and run it through the algorithm to see which plans to recommend.

It was confusing when we heard it for the first time, you’re not alone. But that’s how you see your average monthly bill and price per kWh for each recommended plan. It’s a bit of a different approach than just picking a plan by guessing which usage tier you fall into and hoping you chose the cheapest plan, or running your own spreadsheets (that’s if you go to this extent).

Why aren’t you showing a long list of all the energy plans offered?

We love going through the Chinese buffet and getting googly-eyed when we see all of the amazing food options to choose. After doing that a few times, we observed there were only a handful of items we put on our plates and even fewer items we liked enough to go back for seconds and thirds. Gleaning from those experiences at the buffet line, we figured shopping for energy triggers the same human behavior. Why display a bunch of options only to confuse and frustrate customers! That is why we recommend a single plan, but we know that not everyone will settle on the first thing they see, so then we expand the selection and let you see a few more. We don’t want to overwhelm you, just give you enough options for you to make an informed decision so that you feel you made the best decision.

How are you using the fees earned from my energy consumption?

So glad you asked! No matter how a company tries to spin the way they get paid, nothing is free. Ultimately it is the customer that pays for the service. Our fee is baked into the price you pay, there is no separate bill or charge to your credit card. This takes care of developing cool technology, running an energy brokerage business (including salaries, rent, and such), and hopefully making some profit at the end of the day. This way, our desire for profit does not conflict with our duty to provide valuable service and keeps us all in alignment to help make this world a better, brighter place.

How can I access Honest Gorilla?

Honest Gorilla is available either on your smart phone or desktop computer through our website. There is no app that you have to download to get the full experience. We currently provide electricity solutions to residential, commercial and industrial customers within ERCOT, the deregulated parts of Texas. We’ll be rolling out additional energy providers, services and states in the coming future. Stay tuned!

When can I expect Honest Gorilla to be available in my state?

If you’re living outside of Texas in an area that is open to retail energy competition, we’re on our way. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How can I reach you guys?

You can get in touch with us directly through the mobile or desktop versions of our website. Look for the ‘Help’ button on the lower right corner of this page. If you are considering Honest Gorilla, feel free to get in touch with us using the message box on this page.

I’m new to deregulation. What is it? How does it work?

Believe it or not but banks, railroads, airplanes and telephone companies (even energy companies) were once monopolies. There was only one company in each category you could do business with. We had no choice as customers. Matter of fact we weren’t even called that, we were referred to as ‘rate-payers’. Because no matter the rate, we had to pay their fee. We had nowhere to go and complain or shop to find a better deal.

If you’re on our website, chances are someone said you can choose your energy company and that we could help you find a better deal. Since you’d like to know more about energy deregulation, we figured a picture is worth a thousand words. Peep the infographic below.

Infographic illustration that shows how deregulation works and all of the key players

Great, but how does deregulation really work?

If you never liked art class and don’t like to interpret those artsy pictures, we get it. You want the quick and skinny version. Here it goes: when you choose an energy provider, the local utility company or transmission distribution provider does not change. The local utility still owns the poles and wires, reads your meter, handles all emergencies, and transmits and/or delivers energy to home or business. The only thing that changes is whose logo appears at the top of your bill, the price you pay for energy and who you call for questions. That’s it.

Why are there so many energy providers? How do I know which one to choose?

Energy deregulation spawned retail competition, and competition created an environment where the strong strive to survive. Then there are the fledglings that try to make it, the up-and-comers and the savvy tech innovators that are trying to change the world one kilowatt-hour at a time. Regardless, everyone is fighting for your business, everyone is touting they have the best options and cheapest plans. But how do really know who’s telling the truth? Who can you trust to tell you the truth? What is the truth? That is when you can count on Honest Gorilla. It says it all in the name, because ‘In a world of 800lb gorillas, we are honest.”

BTW, what’s up with your company name? Why Honest Gorilla?

When we were coming up with a name to call ourselves, we wanted to go with Honest Energy but it was already taken. Then GoDaddy recommended ‘Honest Gorilla’ and immediately it was love-at-first-sight. It speaks to the heart of the company motto: ‘Shop for energy, save with confidence.’

Side note: according to Wikipedia, an 800lb gorilla (even though gorillas in the wild never reach more than 600lbs), is an expression for an organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the rights of others or the law; or a corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush any would-be-competitors.

Even though we are in the startup phase of our company’s lifecycle, we did not want to be mistaken by the competition as naïve. In a world where perception is reality, we felt the only way for us to go toe-to-toe with the big boys (aka 800lb gorillas) of the energy industry was to be transparent. We wanted to deliver value to our customers where we felt everyone else was missing the mark. And so it is said, that ‘In a world of 800lb gorillas, we are honest.’

Back to the deregulation stuff. What happens if my power goes out? Who do I contact in the event of an outage or emergency?

Just because you switched providers does not mean you’re going to receive less quality service. It is commonly understood everyone has refrigerators full of food, as well as pets, animals and loved ones that have certain requirements that demand electricity, and weather that can directly affect us if we are without the AC or heater running. Energy is an essential service and by law, everyone is treated equally and without discrimination. If you happen to experience a power outage, no need to panic. Simply call your local utility provider and they will do their best to restore power to your premise at their earliest convenience.

When I switch providers, will there be any noticeable difference in the quality of service?

Switching energy providers isn’t like changing your home phone service from landline to voice over IP (the internet) and you experience those robotic or jittery sounds. Truth is, there is no differentiation in quality of the energy itself. All electrons were created equal. There are no Gucci, Walmart or Coach electrons. They all flow down the same poles and wires and right into your home or business. Your lights won’t flicker or shine any brighter or dimmer when you switch from Company X to Y, then Z and back to X. You may be thinking the phone company said the same thing too. Except the difference with energy is that it flows in a very specific sinusoidal curve pattern (remember trigonometry, sine and cosine) and if it’s off in any way, then it will wreak major havoc. So technically, the quality of your service can’t be any different or we’d all be in trouble!

What about all this talk about going green. If I buy an energy plan that says it comes from renewable sources (like wind or solar), does it mean it comes directly to my property?

Only if you have grid-tied windmills or solar panels connected to your property via an inverter, then yes. You are getting 100% Pure, Grade A, Non-GMO, Vegan, Certified Organic renewable energy. Otherwise, our answer is no.

When you see “renewable content” listed on an energy plan’s Electricity Facts Label, that refers to the percentage of energy coming from renewable sources of power generation. By way of an analogy, think about it this way:

There are multiple fuel sources to generate electricity or different types of power plants like nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydro, wind, solar, and biomass to name the more common types. When electricity is generated, each power plant pours their electricity into a massive ocean (aka the grid). As each power plant pours their electricity, it all gets mixed together making it difficult to know the fuel source of a particular sample. When you have a certain percentage of each different fuel type mixed together, this is called “generation mix.” In like manner, without getting any more technical, each energy provider finds the right generation mix in order to offer their customers competitive rates.

Coming back to the question, unless explicitly stated in the Electricity Facts Label, what you receive at your home or business is a mixture of different fuel types. For example: A% from nuclear, B% from natural gas, C% from coal and D% from a combination of renewables.

Is there a charge to switch providers?

Technically, there is no charge to switch providers if you’re within 14 days of your contract expiration date, or if your contract has already expired. Be sure you meet either of those 2 scenarios, otherwise you will be subject to early termination fees assessed by your current energy provider and those sometimes can be onerous. But, if you’re moving-in to a new house, apartment, townhome, condo etc., there are different rates (i.e. move-in fees) depending on how soon you need service turned on. These fees are subject to change but typically don’t exceed a few dollars, each utility’s fees are different.

What if I change my mind after a few days of signing up?

If you happen to change your mind and decide you want to cancel or go with another plan, then no worries. Just be sure to read the Terms and Conditions so you know the details. To avoid paying any early termination fees, typically you have 3 days to cancel from your original date of enrollment. Again, contact your energy provider to explore your options and learn about their specific requirements.

How long does it take to switch energy providers?

It all depends on when your enrollment is accepted by ERCOT (the governing body that oversees electricity deregulation in Texas) and when it occurs in your meter reading cycle. Generally, switching can take 1 to 2 billing cycles, sometimes less if you process a “self-select switch date” — in which case you can select a date 14 days prior to when your contract expires without penalty from your current provider.

Will I experience any interruption in service? Do I have to let my current provider know I am switching or pay my bill even though I am leaving them?

Switching providers is a seamless process. Once you submit your information on the Honest Gorilla website, the computers will talk with each other to get make sure you get switched over. If there’s ever a hiccup, you can ensure our fine operational folks and those at your new energy provider will work their Oz-like magic to get you onto their platform.

Whatever you do, please do not contact your current energy provider letting them know you are switching, there is no need to get them involved. We take care of everything. If you have an outstanding bill, be sure to pay up and bring your balance to zero. Otherwise, failing to do so can delay your switch and/or confuse the entire process. And no, you cannot get away from paying your bills. Your current energy provider was kind enough to let you use their energy for a full month before they billed you for it, so make sure you pay the ‘final bill’. You don’t want any hiccups or issues later down the road.

What if I (have to) move before my contract ends?

Just because you signed an energy contract does not mean it’s the end of the world for you. Put it this way, if you are moving to another area that is deregulated, then you can request a “move-out, move-in” from your energy provider. This allows you to take your current contract with you to the new place and enjoy all of its benefits. If you’re moving to somewhere that is not deregulated or you’re moving into a situation where you will not be able to fulfil the terms of your contract, in most cases, you’ll just need to provide documentation showing proof and can avoid having to pay an early termination fee. Don’t just take our word for it, be sure to read the Terms and Conditions of your agreement or contact your energy provider to be sure.

I used to have X company, but switched to Y and Z for a while. Can I come back to X, or will that be weird?

TBH nobody really cares. It’s not like you’re dating your energy company. They’ll actually be excited to have you back as a customer! (FYI, TBH means ‘to be honest’)

[ALERT: Technical question] I was told I cannot switch providers because I have a switch-hold on my meter. What is that and how can I get rid of it?

A switch-hold is a mechanism or market transaction that energy providers use to prevent customers from switching providers when their service has been disconnected for non-payment until they pay the outstanding balance. It keeps customers from gaming the system by switching providers when they don’t want to pay their energy bill. To get a switch-hold removed, simply contact your energy provider and show documentation that you are a new resident occupant and not associated with the customer for which the switch-hold was imposed.

Is there a “best” time to start shopping for a new energy provider?

When it’s your money on the line, you’re the best judge of how, when and who to spend it with. But we don’t mind giving you a couple of pointers to guide your decisions.

(Pro Tip #1) We generally recommend you try and start (or end) your energy contract between November and March. Try to avoid signing an agreement that starts (or ends) between April and October, those months are generally referred to as “peak” and is when rates tend to increase or be the most expensive (i.e. hurricane season, hot summer temps, supply/demand etc.).

(Pro Tip #2) It’s a good matter of practice to keep an eye on energy rates, especially if you locked in when rates were “high.” If you’ve been keeping up with how much energy your home or business consumes (if not, we can help), and know how much is your early termination fee, then you could consider breaking your contract to secure the new, lower rate if it makes financial sense. You have to be very careful when exercising this option to make sure you know how much it would cost to leave, but if there’s enough money to be saved, then it’s definitely worth considering.

As tempting as it may sometimes be to “wait and see” what prices will do tomorrow (or later this week), that strategy may end up costing you in the end. When you see a good rate, we generally recommend you lock it in because there’s no guarantee how long that price will hold or change against your favor.

(Pro Tip #3) You save the most amount of money when choosing the right energy plan, and it does not matter how many LED lights, Argon-filled, double-paned windows, radiant heat barrier, 14+ inches of attic insulation, smart thermostats, or 16+ SEER HVAC system you may have. If you experience a high rate at the wrong time, all that money you spent upgrading your home could be awash. All it takes is a couple months of high energy bills to wipe any savings you may have been looking forward to or had realized. Let’s not be mistaken though, making all those upgrades are great, but we recommend you implement them when financially feasible.

I checked rates yesterday and they are different today. Why are they constantly changing?

Energy rates are no different than fuel prices you find at the local gas station. Factors that can affect price volatility include geopolitical forces, economic conditions, weather (extreme temperature and weather related events like hurricanes, snowstorms) and general supply and demand. If you really want to get a feel for this stuff and see how electricity or natural gas has performed, then follow natural gas futures contracts on the NYMEX. That is the best indicator and underlying commodity for energy prices.

Why do you typically recommend fixed-rate contracts over variable or indexed?

When it comes to your home or business, we tend to be risk-averse. Fixed rates come with certainty, security and peace-of-mind knowing that your rate will not change, that’s why like we them and view them very favorably. Your usage will vary each month depending on your lifestyle, household and preferences, but to the extent you can minimize risk, it’s generally a good idea to secure a fixed-rate.

Index or variable rates are good if we are in a down-market and rates are declining, that’s about the only time they’re a good idea. Or if you’re looking for a short-term solution because your present situation won’t allow you to commit for a longer term. Otherwise, just one month of unpredictable weather, shortage of supply or increased demand could send rates through the roof and give you a heart attack. To the extent no one has yet discovered a crystal ball that foretells the future, we recommend the boring yet safer route of price certainty (aka fixed rate plans).

My credit isn’t all that great. I haven’t established credit before. What are my options?

No one’s credit score is perfect and, like our grades back in school, it is something always in need of improvement. Whether you have a social security number, poor credit or no credit, have no fear because we have a solution for you.

You could always pay a couple hundred dollars to post a deposit, but who has that kind of money laying around?! With pre-paid energy (which is only available in Texas), you can get started with a low, upfront payment and have your power turned on same day, in some cases. Pre-paid energy works like a debit account. Whatever amount of money you put in your account is how much energy you’re able to use (i.e. fund your account with $25 and get $25 worth of electricity). This will get the kids to turn off the lights real quick when they leave a room! Not to mention it teaches them good habits.

You even receive daily notifications letting you know much you spent or used and how much remains. This is a great way to budget your cashflow, help the environment and build your credit back up. It’s kinda like extra-credit back in school.

Can’t I just go to the energy provider’s website and sign up there?

There’s nothing holding you back to check others, but chances are you’ll be right back here where you started. It won’t take you long to find the value that Honest Gorilla provides and the very frustration we had when we started this company. We aren’t selling rates, we’re providing an experience and opportunity for you to make a difference.

Lower prices? Your quote was higher than I found elsewhere. What gives?

We have injected technology to lower our cost of operations to offer competitive rates. While our prices tend to be cheaper than the more established market participants, we recognize that may not always be the case. Energy companies use different pricing models and algorithms to set their rates, and on occasion our prices may be higher than someone else’s. That’s just how numbers work statistically and we understand that reality. If it’s any comfort, please remember that any leftover money will be contributed to Light of Unity, so go ahead and use Honest Gorilla anyway! What are you waiting for? Let’s get started.

What is this Giveback thing?

Energy brokering works by pooling small amounts of money (commissions) earned from a large group of customers who sign up for the service. Since our fees are based on how our customers use energy, and aren’t directly involved with provisioning customers (the part that actually bears the risk of providing competitively priced energy service), there is some money left-over after all expenses have been paid. We take this money as profits. Instead of keeping this money all to ourselves, we intend to pay it forward to help bring positive social impact to local communities and global initiatives.

Light of Unity is our social impact initiative. We were inspired by the quote, “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” And so we have taken that literally to heart. We want to be the spreaders of goodwill and help shed light on any person, family, entity or organization locally or globally whose light could be further illumined.

Many are choosing to spread the love and make this world a better, bright place simply by using Honest Gorilla as their conduit to finding a better energy plan. As our community grows, our social impact becomes even stronger.

Note: the Giveback is currently not recognized as a tax deductible donation, sorry!

Why doesn’t Honest Gorilla donate to other charities?

Social impact is baked into the core of the business. It is our core philosophy and the very reason for the founding of Honest Gorilla. We could’ve partnered with various charities, but we wanted to start something new and different. We didn’t want to just send a check and get a ‘thank you’ note in the mail. To giveback to our own initiative is an opportunity for us to serve at the grassroots. This allows us to create community, be hands-on and connect with local and global community members in impactful and memorable ways that we can then share and inspire others.

When do you pay the Giveback?

At the end of February each year, we recommend to the board how much we’d like to Giveback and pay it on March 1st.

What happens to my Giveback if I cancel my contract?

Because the way our contract reads with each of our portfolio energy providers, the allocation of profit towards Giveback is based on the total number of active, paying customers. If you cancel your contract, not only are we penalized but we miss out on those fees we would’ve otherwise collected.

Is the Giveback guaranteed?

No. Giveback is a feature of our policy, and our intent is to pay it every year, but considerations to overall profitability, company viability and sustainability must also be given. The decision to Giveback is at the sole discretion of the board.

Why does Honest Gorilla need copies of my energy bills? And specifically, why two?

The same way that a doctor checks your vital signs to see how healthy you really are, the experts at Honest Gorilla evaluate your energy bills to see how effectively your business is using energy and identify how we can help you manage your energy expenses. We are looking for trends and patterns from one month to the next to see if anything has changed, that is why one bill is simply not enough. Your personal information is not included on your energy bills, so no need to worry about that. We are mostly interested in the numbers. Our analysts home in on things like your service address, meter number, utility account number or ESIID, the type of product, energy and demand charges, payment history and contract expiration date.

What is a Letter of Authorization (“LOA”) and why do I need to sign it?

Letter of Authorization can sound real formal and intimidating, but don’t fret, you’re not signing over the rights to your business. It is NOT a contract. In layman terms, the LOA is nothing more than a fancy way of calling the form a permission slip. The LOA grants us permission to access two things from your local utility provider: (i) how much energy (i.e. supply) your business consumed over the past 12 months, and (ii) how you consumed that energy (i.e. demand). Once we have obtained and analyzed all of the data, including the information we extrapolated from your energy bills, we then use it to engage our energy providers in a reverse-auction and have them compete for your business.

I’ve heard of an auction, but what is a reverse-auction?

Instead of prices going up, as they do in a typical forward auction, prices go down in a reverse-auction. Because we have relationships with many energy providers, we make them compete for your business. We effectively create a market where competitive pressures force the energy providers to offer their lowest and best prices to win your business.

Why do you have relationships with multiple energy providers?

Every client has different business objectives; no two businesses are alike. Each business owner or operator requires different terms, products, payment options and has different credit history, therefore it is our goal to pair clients with an energy provider that meets each client’s needs. And, to take full advantage of our platform, leverage and negotiating power, the more energy providers we have in our portfolio the better it is for our customers. When there are more energy providers, you win due to increased competition.

Can’t I negotiate energy prices myself? Why do I need an energy advisor or broker?

Of course you can, but do you think you would get a better deal than someone whose sole job is to negotiate and win energy contracts? We often hear customers say, “I used to just call up three energy providers, compare each quote and choose the cheapest one.” That may work for some, but most clients have been unsuccessful using that strategy and that is why they turn to Honest Gorilla to help them source and negotiate energy contracts on their behalf. Here’s a few reasons why clients choose to work with us:

Have you ever bought something and then found out a short while later that somewhere else was offering a better deal for the same exact thing? It’s a not-so-good feeling knowing that you left money on the table. Now, imagine having knowledge of that other deal before you went shopping! Having an energy broker or advisor works the same way. We save you time and money. Here’s how:

(1) The same reason why your customers trust and repeatedly give you business, analyzing energy data, shopping and negotiating energy contracts is our business. That is something we do all day, every day. We have subject matter expertise because we have negotiated energy contracts for plenty of customers, large and small.

(2) Fail to choose the right plan and the wrong plan will choose you. There’s more to it than just securing a fixed rate, especially when you’re burning lots of energy. Oftentimes predatory products can be disguised as friendly low prices, and unless you know what you’re doing, you could be taken advantage of. You don’t want to be faced with questions about how you are going to keep your doors open or staff employed due to high energy bills. When we price deals for our clients, we take into consideration everything, not just each of the pricing elements and lock-in a low rate for all of your supply charges, but also your financial goals and future plans for your business. Sounds complicating, because it is. Just one or two months of high energy bills and you could be up late at night trying to find answers to some of your career’s hardest questions.

(3) We know what prices have done historically, what prices and products are currently being offered, and have some level of market insight into what they could be doing in the near future. We don’t claim to have a crystal ball, but if past results can be an indication of future performance, then we have a slight edge and can advise you accordingly;

(4) We have relationships with not just one or two energy providers but many, and that makes us a clearinghouse of sorts. Since we interface with a bunch of energy providers, we have an advantage seeing see what products and pricing everyone is offering all at once. Unless you like to shop, after about the second or third request, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or confused. So leave the shopping to the experts.

(5) Because of the volume of energy that we close on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis, we are able to negotiate favorable terms for our clients and pass along those savings. It’s the difference between buying a can of your favorite soft drink at the hotel convenient store vs going to a wholesale club and buying a case or pallet of the same and comparing the per unit price. In the case for using Honest Gorilla, you buy the amount you need for your business except you pay competitive, low prices.

What is the difference between fixed rate and variable or indexed rate?

Having a fixed rate means that the energy charge is fixed and is not subject to market volatility. No matter what the season, weather pattern, or economic condition we are experiencing, your price per unit of energy will always remain the same. Of course, the total amount you will owe at the end of the month will vary, as it depends on how much energy you used, but the price you pay per unit of energy will remain fixed.

Contrary to a fixed rate which, in most cases, is known to provide price stability and security, variable or indexed rates vary each month. The energy charge is determined by the cost of some underlying index, usually the natural gas futures contracts traded on the NYMEX. And similar to the stock market, the NYMEX is constantly changing. These products are generally cheaper than fixed rates because they transfer risk from the energy provider to the customer.

Consulting with Honest Gorilla will help us better understand your risk tolerance so that we can recommend a solution that best caters to your needs.

When is a good time to lock in a fixed rate vs signing up for a variable or indexed rate?

Honest Gorilla will be able to consult with you as to what product could make the most sense for your budget given your particular circumstances and business objectives. For educational purposes, however, fixed rates are a great option for most businesses looking for price security and certainty as they are typically not subject to change. It is best to lock in when energy prices are on the rise. On the other-hand, variable or index rates become attractive options when the market is trending downward and prices are notably decreasing. In essence, you want to ride the rollercoaster down and lock-in when prices go up. It sounds easy when reading it here, but timing these events and foreseeing these circumstances is left to the energy gods and carefully consulting one’s risk management protocol to determine the preferred path forward.

Can I switch now, even if I’m in a contract?

The beautiful thing about commercial energy contracts is that there is much more flexibility than there is with residential contracts. With commercial contracts, if you see that rates are low and you want to take advantage of it, then you can sign a contract today to start one year into the future. This implies you don’t have to terminate your existing contract. You can ride out your current contract and proceed with the knowledge that you have a great rate waiting for you a year from now. This sounds amazing, we know!

In case this sounds too good to be true or are slightly confused, let’s play out an example to help you better understand this concept of a Futures Contract or Forward Start Date. Let’s say for instance that your current contract will expire in six months’ time. Being the opportunist that you are, you notice that prices have gone down and you want to take advantage of today’s low rates. Well, guess what….you can! You can sign a 12 or 24 month contract today to start in six months from now. Talk about taking advantage of market opportunities!

Rates are low and I want to lock-in my rate. Can I get out of my contract, or am I stuck?

Yes and no. Buyer beware: you can always get out of your contract, but you may be subject to paying an Early Termination Fee (“ETF”). You will want to consult the contract that you had previously signed to see how the ETF is calculated and how much it will cost you to terminate early. If you experience any difficulties figuring out this information or calculating your ETF, we can always assist. Depending on the market situation, it may be advisable to pay the ETF and secure a lower rate today or doing a blend-and-extend. There have been countless cases where either scenario makes sense. We will be happy to do a cost-benefit analysis to see how different scenarios will play out and identify which strategy ultimately is to your financial benefit.

What is a blend-and-extend?

In some cases, it may not be financially feasible to pay a large lump sum to offset the Early Termination Fee. Securing a blend-and-extend contract can be a way to save money now, without any out-of-pocket expense, and spread out the cost of energy over a longer period of time, especially if on a higher rate and noticed that rates have gone down.

Here’s how a blend-and-extend deal might work: let’s assume that you’re currently paying $0.10 per kWh for electricity and are into the second year of your three year contract. Let’s say that your energy provider is projecting electricity prices will drop next year to $0.06 per kWh. If that’s the case, then you could extend your current contract another year, lock in next year’s price of $0.06 per kWh, and blend it with this year’s rate to pay only $0.08 per kWh starting today and through the third year of the contract as well. This would mean you’d be paying $0.02 less this year but $0.02 more next year.

What if my business gets acquired, we acquire another company, move, add or close down some locations?

That’s exactly why would want to count on Honest Gorilla…to help you navigate through complex situations like these! Ever tried selling a house “For sale by owner” and then quickly realized that’s not your gig? We will serve as your main point of contact throughout your relationship with us and will interface with your energy provider to ensure your business needs are met and to your satisfaction.