Bridgestone Associates and the Central Bradford Progress Authority today finalised an agreement under which Bridgestone Associates will assist the central Bradford progress authority (CBPA) in the evaluation of alternatives and the development of short, medium and long term strategies to assist large electric intensive energy users in the Northern Tier region of Pennsylvania to manage their electricity costs. These costs have remained relatively stable for the past decade due to rate caps agreed by Penelec, a First Energy Corporation subsidiary and the primary electric service provider in the Northern Tier, as part of the settlement to move to a deregulated and competitive retail market. However, the rate caps are scheduled to expire at the end of 2010 and currently regional businesses are faced with extreme uncertainty regarding future energy rates as the full open-market pricing structures loom ahead.
Under the contract with CBPA, which was won through a competitive bidding process, Bridgestone Associates will work with the larger electric intensive energy users in the area to identify their current and future energy requirements. With that data available, Bridgestone will conduct preliminary audits of selected energy users and develop strategies for energy efficiency improvement, energy management and energy cost control. Some of the medium and long term strategies that will be evaluated may include aggregation of loads, cooperative energy procurement and local or regional electricity generation. This electric generation may be a combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration plant located at one of the larger energy users in order to take advantage of the added efficiency of waste heat utilisation, or a stand-alone generating plant. Alternative sources of fuel will be evaluated including local natural gas associated with the Marcellus Shale exploration and renewable resources such as wind, solar and biomass.
Anthony Ventello, executive director of Central Bradford Progress Authority, said: “We selected Bridgestone Associates because of their demonstrated experience in all aspects of the work needed to produce a detailed feasibility study. The results of this study will guide the activities of the CBPA as it works to support the energy needs of Northern Tier businesses including those in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming Counties. As a result of this study, area businesses will be provided with short-term expertise to assist in energy decision-making during an uncertain period as the local electric utility rate caps expire. In the longer term, the study will shape the CBPA’s future efforts as they relate to energy initiatives involving local business and industry.”
Martin Anderson, president of Bridgestone Associates, said: “We are seeing a similar picture throughout Pennsylvania as companies must face up to the end of electric rate caps. These rate caps have held down rates and helped Pennsylvania electric rates become much more competitive with the remainder of the country but, coupled with the poor overall economy, expiration of these caps mean many companies are now hesitant to invest in any long-term projects without having more clarity on their future rates. We are pleased to have been selected by the CBPA to perform this very timely study. Hopefully we can develop some viable strategies that will help electric intensive industries continue to operate and prosper in the region.”