Trade groups carry clout with members, could emerge as next energy aggregators.
Electric utility restructuring has finally arrived as an A-list topic at many mainstream trade associations. According to a new study by the Second Opinion market research firm, energy deregulation is one of the top three issues of concern to groups as disparate as the Chemical Manufacturers Association and the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire.
That could foretell a new wave of competition for retail energy.
Meg Matt, president of the Second Opinion, says the groups her firm surveyed (see list) expressed an "urgent need for education" for their members on restructuring, particularly regarding what their opportunities and options will be in a new market. Many of the associations have committees that are actively looking for information on restructuring and are willing to talk with anyone who can help them, Matt notes, although not all of the groups are able to dedicate personnel and other resources full time to the topic.
"It isn't real complicated," explained a survey participant and representative of the Steel Manufacturers Association of his interest in deregulation. "Since electricity typically represents 15 to 20 percent of [members'] cost, obviously it's of great interest to them, and therefore, if this is what they want, this is what we're going to do."
"We're telling our [energy industry] clients that they need to form a close relationship" with their customers and these trade groups, Matt adds.
The Second Opinion's report, "Trade Associations: The Silent Aggregators," focuses on information such as:
What factors do associations consider when selecting or recommending a provider to their members?
What types of aggregations opportunities have the associations received and from whom?
What role do new products and services play in the marketing mix?
What outside resources are they using to become educated on deregulation?
How do associations wish to receive marketing information?
Twelve investor-owned utilities and energy service companies provided the initial funding for the research for "Trade Associations: The Silent Aggregators." To order the report, call 404-222-9822.
The Surveyed Groups
American Textile Manufacturers Institute
Anne Ross Company
ATCO Properties & Management
California Manufacturers Association
Chemical Manufacturers Association
Food Distributors International
The Food Marketing Institute
Home Builders Association of Bucks & Montgomery
Illinois Manufacturers Association
International Facility Management Association
International Mass Retail Association
National Association of Convenience Stores
Ohio Manufacturers Association
Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire
Steel Manufacturers Association
Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association
Texas Coalition for Competitive Electricity
West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce [Indiana]
Wisconsin Grocers Association
Source: The Second Opinion.
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