As we approach the end of another year, I feel it is important to report on the progress we’ve made.
Gas and Electric
As some members may remember, I have previously talked about the deregulation of utilities and the possibility of the Galway Co-op becoming part of an existing Energy Service Company (ESCO). After discussing the idea with a number of ESCO’s it became apparent that there was no real savings to be realized. For those who are either involved with an ESCO or are considering it, the best advice I can give you is, don’t. I also investigated the possibility of becoming a government approved ESCO. Without going into the litany of it all, and after it was all said and done, I still could not see meaningful savings for residential members. I will continue doing the research, but it doesn’t look hopeful.
Since last year we have taken on over 1,000 new members. We have lost about 200. Our membership now stands at close to 4,000. We have lost members for a few reasons; some have moved and are using natural gas. Unfortunately some have passed away. Some have been offered a better price from competing distributors. Out of the 200 or so members that left our group, close to 85 have asked to once again be part of the Co-op. Initially we accepted these reenrollments, but then a member made an interesting point; we simply cannot let members jump back and forth whenever the grass looks greener on the other side. The October, 25, 2010 posting on our website homepage sums it up:
Recently, the Galway Co-op has received several New Customer Set Up Forms from former Co-op members seeking to re-join our organization. We have decided to reject these applications and I would like to take this opportunity to explain that decision.
The Co-op was designed so that members could collectively show a high level of usage in order to obtain lower fuel prices. Its purpose was not, however, intended for members to use Co-op pricing to negotiate better individual pricing with an outside fuel distributor. When a member elects to leave the Co-op for the promise of better individual pricing, the member in effect takes away from the very tool that allows the Co-op to negotiate our pricing ñ usage, for their own self-interest. When a member takes the usage with which the Co-op bargains and then commits that usage to a non-Galway Co-op provider, it may help that former member but it fails to show respect for the Co-op and our efforts. It is the group effort that allows the Galway Co-op to maintain lower negotiated pricing. Individuals have every right to seek better pricing on their own; however they shall not do so at our group’s expense.
Ben Neri, President
I personally, would like to think that all members understand how important it is to stick together. Each and every member represents gallons of fuel that the Co-op uses to negotiate pricing and terms for the entire group. There is no doubt that with the exception of our fuel suppliers, other fuel suppliers would like to see the Galway Co-op disappear and have gone to great lengths to try and make it happen. The bottom line is that I’ll continue to fight only as long as you do.
We have recently established fuel oil contracts with Charlton Oil and J&R Fuels. The Co-op has interviewed both companies and we are very confident that Co-op members using fuel oil will find the grade of oil, pricing and service to be much higher than the industry standards. I have learned a little about fuel oil that I’d like to share with you. First, not all fuel oil is of the same quality. There are inferior fuel oils being sold by area distributors under the guise of premium grade. It’s important to point out that in some cases customers are paying a slightly lower rate for the inferior and some are not. In both cases the customer is not aware that they are purchasing a sub-standard product. Also, the inferior fuel oil sometimes or always omits a strong odor. The strength of the odor could depend on the efficiency of your system and the purity of the fuel oil. Lastly, because of the lack of purity, your system will not generate the btu’s that a higher grade fuel oil will. In the case of Charlton Oil and J&R Fuels, we have and will continue to verify the source of their fuel oil and can confidently say Co-op members will be buying the best.
We are putting together a Business Directory. The directory will be comprised of business that will give Co-op members discounts and extraordinary service. I strongly urge you to patronize these business for two reasons; you will be assured of getting Co-op endorsed products and services at honest, fair prices and the business owners will sincerely appreciate your business.
Finally, I would like to wish all members a great holiday season, and please remember the less fortunate during this time. And remember, we are all in it together, and together we have made a difference.