Echo Energy, the City of Lacombe’s electricity retailing boutique, has made some changes recently in an effort to get more interested clients signing up.
In November of last year, the City of Lacombe partnered with electricity supplier Utilitynet to retail electricity with the revenue going towards a special fund that will support new community initiatives.
Guy Lapointe, community and economic development officer for the City, said possible customers should view the arrangement as beneficial from both sides. People need to have electricity, and through Echo Energy, they can purchase it and have that money come back to them through new amenities in the community.
“Ultimately in the end what we want to see is, we want people to view this as a win-win scenario,” said Lapointe.
He said that a number of residents, customers and other interested parties have contacted the City to provide feedback regarding the Echo Energy service since it began in November, with active promotion of the service beginning with the new year.
In response that feedback, changes have been made to Echo Energy that hopefully remove some of the barriers preventing others from using the service.
Deposits are first among the changes that have been made to the retailing boutique. Lapointe said that deposits were being used in an attempt to offer customers lower rates, but most people were seeing them as a barrier.
To make things simpler, Echo Energy has eliminated deposits entirely, pending credit approval.
Echo Energy has also lowered its rates to be more competitive within the market.
Lapointe said that Echo Energy is fully in control of its pricing and can alter it without consultation from its supplier, Utilitynet and as such has changed rates from 7.95 cents per kilowatt hour to 7.49 cents per kilowatt hour.
There are some misconceptions regarding pricing that Lapointe wished to address as well.
He said that Echo Energy has promoted its fixed rate option in order to offer clients stability with their utility bill, but it still offers a variable rate as well.
Lapointe also wanted to make it clear where Echo Energy’s revenue goes. He said that income from Echo Energy goes to a fund, called the Echo Lacombe Fund, that will support new initiatives within the community and not into general City funds. Eventually, a committee will be set up to decide what the funds will be used for and will make recommendations to council accordingly.
Basically, the funds in the Echo Lacombe Fund are monies the City can use to support the community. They do not go towards the City’s operating or capital budgets.
At this point, the City needs customers to build up the fund before it can start doing anything with that money.
Lapointe said right now Echo Energy is sitting at about 60 customers and the City would like to hit 250 by year’s end.
“We’d obviously like to see it pick up a bit more.”
He added that this year is mostly about getting customers in place and then revenue will begin to build next year and in years to come. Having said that, the more people that sign up sooner, the better things will be.
“The sooner we can make the change, the sooner we can start building the fund up,” said Lapointe.
While Echo Energy is a retailer from the City of Lacombe and its revenue will go to support initiatives in the community, the service is not limited to Lacombe residents. Personal and commercial clients in Lacombe County, Blackfalds and even Red Deer are welcome to sign up.
For more information, visit www.echoenergy.ca or call 403-314-2107.