NRG Energy Launches Program to Attract New Customers: Platts Energy Week

Washington - October 28, 2013

Millions of U.S. consumers have gained flexibility in choosing electricity providers over the past 20 years, but options have varied regionally and consumer interest in the opportunity has typically lagged.

NRG Energy, the largest U.S. independent energy producer, is launching a new service aimed at improving customized home energy savings options for Beltway and Northeast consumers, James Steffes, NRG’s president of Northeast Retail, announced Sunday on Platts Energy Week, an all-energy news and talk show program.

"Sundays now become a special day in the fall for Americans," Steffes said. "About 75% of Americans are now watching their local [or] hometown team try to win every Sunday or Monday night."

NRG hopes to capitalize on the popularity of football to attract new customers through its "two-cent Sundays" offer, which could provide savings to customers in Washington, Maryland and portions of the Northeast, Steffes said.

NRG has installed 8,000 solar panels on FedEx Field near Washington, the home of the Redskins. Now it plans to offer customers who switch to its NRG Residential Solutions retail unit a "two-cent Sunday" deal that passes on typically lower weekend power pricing to its customers. The "two-cent" refers to 2 cents per kilowatt hour.

Although NRG operates across the country, "the Northeast is a huge opportunity for us," Steffes said. "We're really starting to look at bringing 'two-cent Sundays' and other time-variant pricing over time to the marketplace."

The new service, Steffes said, would offer "unprecedented" levels of customer choice, bringing "affordability, sustainability, reliability and convenience, control and intelligence" to consumers by offering "a truly customized solution. And we're going to continue to evolve to give them the technologies, the control devices and the energy packaging ... that's good for them at their home."

Examples of customized solutions include allowing customers to pick how green their home electricity package would be and using a "smart" thermostat company to pinpoint how energy is bought and used.

Deregulation, when it was first introduced several years ago, promised consumers better prices and service, but in some areas, such as Maryland, prices shot up and consumers got angry.

"We had some fits and starts, today it's much better," Steffes said, adding that "consumers are more aware."

"Now you have ... a range of suppliers ... that are coming in and offering customized products to help customers avoid price movements in the underlying wholesale market," Steffes said. "Some consumers may want that. Most consumers want to know there is some level of stability, and they can find that through the marketplace."

And as suppliers get more innovative and consumers get savvier, Steffes said, the marketplace for energy will become "smarter." This is a change, of sorts, from the old range of consumer response that went from angry when deregulation didn't work, to apathetic when things went well.

“You have consumers becoming much more educated, more aware that the options are available, and now they're starting to take more opportunity," he said.

Other Program Highlights

Lynn Westfall, director of energy markets and financial analysis with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), introduced the EIA’s new report, which attempts to tell the full story of the U.S. shale bonanza by improving lagging U.S. government counts of oil and gas drilling rigs. In a separate segment, Westfall examined trends in gasoline and diesel supplies and prices.

Also on Sunday’s program, Platts News Director John Kingston discussed what was shared during a conference he attended recently in Mexico amid recent attempts by the Mexican government to reform the nation’s oil industry.

"Platts Energy Week" airs on Sundays in Washington on WUSA, a CBS affiliate, and in Houston on KUHT, a PBS affiliate, as well as on other PBS stations in the US. The program is also available on the web at

Platts Energy Week airs at 7:30 a.m. U.S. Eastern time Sunday mornings on W*USA TV 9 in greater Washington, D.C., in Houston at 1:30 p.m. U.S. Central time on KUHT HoustonPBS (Channel 8), at 3:30 p.m. CT on San Antonio, Texas’ PBS-KLRN, and in North Carolina at 5:30 p.m. ET on North CarolinaPBS (digital channel UNC-MX). The program also airs Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. ET in North Carolina on PBS (digital channel UNC-MX), and is available on other PBS stations throughout the United States. For online viewing, the program is accessible at

The program features interviews with leading figures from government, industry, markets, think tanks and the financial community. Host Bill Loveless is an editorial director at Platts who brings 30 years of energy journalism experience to the anchor chair. The program also features veteran energy news editor and Platts Energy Week Senior Correspondent Chris Newkumet.

Platts Energy Week is produced by Platts, the world’s leading source of information and intelligence on energy and related commodities and a division of McGraw Hill Financial [NYSE: MHFI], and W*USA-TV, the Washington, D.C., CBS affiliate and flagship television station of Gannett Company. [NYSE: GCI]. While the program is US focused and produced in Washington, it reflects the global vantage point of Platts, whose correspondents are stationed in such major capitals as London, Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo and Moscow.

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