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New NEM President Bill Kinneary Sets Forth Goals, Says Industry Must Develop More Effective Relationship With Regulators

Continued Recovery Of Commodity Costs In Delivery Rates A Key Focus

March 3, 2020

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Copyright 2010-20
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Bill Kinneary, who was recently named President of the National Energy Marketers Association, has outlined his focus as he begins to lead the organization.

Kinneary was named President of NEM after Craig Goodman was named Chairman of NEM’s Board of Directors, as Goodman retired from his long-time role as President of the organization.

Kinneary said that NEM has developed a new regulatory strategy.

Kinneary emphasized that the overarching mission of NEM is to, "aggressively promote the right of all consumers to choose an energy supplier," including all residential customers (including those defined as low-income) and small commercial customers.

Kinneary cited three key policies in support of this objective:

• "We will promote the limitation of utilities to natural monopoly functions (functions that actually require regulation because they are not competitive)."

• "We will promote the removal of competitive functions from utilities (i.e. energy supply, billing, customer service and maybe others) where pricing can be better 'controlled' by competitive market forces."

• "We will promote the removal of all energy supply support costs from utility delivery service rates -- Correcting the so-called 'utility price to compare' in jurisdictions where this predatory utility pricing exists."

To achieve these goals, Kinneary said, "we must develop a more effective relationship with regulators."

Kinneary said that NEM members will meet with regulators to talk about these issues, including discussing why comparisons to default service pricing which are not an appropriate comparison.

While stating that the effort will be, "a bit of a battle," Kinneary said that NEM has had "very good conversations" with regulators about the issue.

Kinneary, who lives in Connecticut (which does not have residential natural gas choice), cited his February gas bill as an example of the value of choice, compared to monopoly pricing. Kinneary's utility bill had a rate of nearly $6.30 per MCF for gas supply alone. "That $6.30 per MCF is inexplicable in the current natural gas market," Kinneary said. "That's what happens in the absence of competition."

Kinneary also said that NEM plans to expand membership, "significantly."

"There are hundreds of retail energy companies operating today in the United States along with many vendors that support the services and operations of these companies. We want to encourage every one of these retailers and vendors to become NEM members," Kinneary said

A new fee structure for NEM membership has been introduced, including options for retail energy suppliers which may have a smaller size or footprint. Kinneary also hopes to attract former regulators or other individuals unaffiliated with a company (retirees, etc.) with a new membership tier offered at a minimal charge for such individuals.

Kinneary said NEM is also changing the focus and structure of its seasonal conferences. "Every NEM conference will have a theme designed to elicit interest among members and potential member attendees," Kinneary said.

Kinneary said that there will be more subjects of common interest for members covered in presentations and panels, and attendee participation for Q&A will be maximized.

For example, NEM's upcoming April Conference will be entitled "Implementing an Effective Energy Strategy for 2020 and Beyond" with 10 focused presentations by regulator panels, industry panels, and NEM leadership.

These will include:

• The End Game in Energy Competition – Restoring the "Natural" Utility Monopoly

• Why Would any Utility Fear Energy Competition?

• What do Energy Consumers Really Want and Need?

• The Potential Value of a Public Relations Initiative for Our Industry

• Examining what the Bad Players in Retail Energy Sales are Doing to Create Justified Criticism of Our Industry

• The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Where should NEM focus its Regulatory Response Activities in 2020?

• Energy Competition Advocates – Meet the Organizations that are Fighting the Good Fight!

• Apples and Oranges - Let’s End all Focus on the Utility "Price to Compare"

• A Comprehensive Review of State Activities, and …

• Energy Deregulation Activities in the "Wild" and Trailblazing West

Kinneary also hopes to forge a meaningful relationship with other organizations in the industry.

"We're all attempting to bring price, service and technology competition to retail energy markets," Kinneary said

NEM will be holding its 23rd Annual National Energy Restructuring Conference on April 8 through April 10 in Washington, D.C.

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