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Energy Procurement Training Opportunities

March 18, 2015 By Josh Kessler

There are many training opportunities available to professionals interested in developing their energy buying expertise. Many are free, either online or over the phone. In-person seminars and advisory services are fee-based. Course content can include:

  • Competitive energy market fundamentals
  • Provisions of electricity and gas contracts
  • Procurement and negotiation tactics
  • Specific topics of interest, such as renewables or demand response

This article presents an overview of the different types of organizations that offer training and educational opportunities for energy buyers. Each category lists examples of specific organizations and the trainings they offer.

Energy Advisors and Brokers

Energy advisors and brokers offer a wide range of services to help energy buyers make better purchasing decisions. This can include standardized trainings as well as customized consulting and advisory services. Whereas energy service companies (ESCOs) focus on internal energy management strategies, energy advisors often focus more on external markets, while brokers often focus on the procurement process (solicitations, contract terms and conditions, negotiations, etc.).

Examples:

  • Mercatus Energy – Advisory firm offering both standard and customized seminars, as well as consulting services, related to energy hedging, trading, and risk management for electricity, natural gas, and petroleum-based products.
  • Tradition Energy – A brokerage and advisory firm that offers trainings for its clients.

Retail Energy Suppliers and ESCOs

Many retail energy suppliers and ESCOs that offer retail energy as part of a larger suite of products and services can provide insight into how retail purchasing decisions fit in with broader energy management strategies. Some suppliers are willing to customize their trainings to the specific needs of customer segments, such as industrial gas or electricity buyers, municipal aggregators, hospitals or commercial building owners.

Although some providers may push their own retail products or other services, others try to remain objective and build trust with customers. For customers who choose to receive training directly from retail suppliers or ESCOs, it can help to speak with multiple providers to give them a broader perspective.

Examples:

  • ConEd Solutions – Retail supplier and ESCO that provides advisory services related to business objectives, risk tolerance, budgeting needs, sustainability concerns and other energy management topics.
  • GDF Suez – Supplier that offers seminars and webinars on wholesale and retail energy markets and related topics.

Industry Organizations

Many industry organizations and trade associations provide training on topics that can help with energy buying. Energy-oriented organizations often provide seminars explaining energy markets, best practices in energy management, and in one case an energy procurement certification program. Procurement associations offer broad guidance on best practices for buying commodities. Financial organizations can offer guidance or training related to energy trading and risk management.

Examples:

Government Agencies

Some state and local government agencies in states with restructured energy markets provide training for retail energy buyers.

Examples:

Independent System Operators/Regional Transmission Organizations

The independent system operator (ISO)’s and regional transmission organization (RTO)’s that oversee power markets and grid reliability offer numerous trainings to electricity industry professionals. Many of the courses are intended for system operators, but some can be useful to energy buyers as well, as they cover electricity market concepts, region-specific regulations and other topics. These courses can be quite complex, and participants should possess some existing expertise in energy markets before enrolling in some of the more advanced courses.

Examples:

  • ERCOT (Texas) – Offers instructor-led or web-based training on retail and wholesale markets, as well as transmission systems.
  • PJM (Mid-Atlantic/Midwest) – Currently offers nearly 80 online, in-person, and virtual courses on electricity markets, regulations, operations, and technologies through its Course Catalog.

Other Organizations

Various other organizations offer educational opportunities that can benefit retail energy buyers.

Examples:

  • Schneider Electric – A vendor in the energy management solutions industry offers three e-learning courses on energy procurement through its College of Energy Efficiency; also offers a broader online Professional Energy Manager certification in collaboration with the Institute of Energy Professionals.
  • PGS Energy Training – Specialized training company that offers fee-based classroom seminars, in-house training, phone and web-based seminars and recorded webinars.

EIA Training Calendar

The DOE Energy Information Administration maintains an Energy Training Calendar that lists a wide range of classes for energy industry professionals. The calendar lists numerous events each month, but it is not restricted to topics that are relevant to retail energy buyers, and many of the events are international.

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