Local company leverages energy deregulation to help nonprofits
By T. Reyes
The following story is exclusive advertiser-created content for Focus NewsMagazine.
When the Great Recession hit in 2007, local businessman John Nelson of Grand Junction, felt the pain and struggle of keeping staff employed at his myriad businesses across the nation. Sacrifices were made, as he vowed not to layoff any of his 500+ staff.
All of Nelson’s companies survived, and if the last eight years has taught him anything, it was that staying positive and having a boatload of gratitude were as important to his success as any business metric.
“Running my businesses during a tough recession was really humbling,” Nelson said. “For every victory or achievement, I couldn’t help but feel very grateful.”
With the tough days behind him and business booming, Nelson’s future is focused on giving back — and giving back in a big way.
THE ANSWER IS ENERGY
Here’s something the average business owner in Colorado might not know: Commercial natural gas is a deregulated utility. That means any company, business or nonprofit in Colorado can choose from who they buy their natural gas. Without a monopoly scenario, choice equals competitive pricing.
One of Nelson’s companies, Element Energy Advisors (EEA) based in Grand Junction, Colo., is a national energy-‐consulting broker doing business in states where energy utilities are deregulated. (Nelson also co-‐owns GJ-‐based Mozaic Technology and Gelu’s Italian Ice.)
EEA consultants work with companies of all sizes and types to procure the best rates for natural gas with the end goal of saving them money.
“In Colorado, we represent several natural gas suppliers, and because of the volume of contracts we negotiate, we can lock in low rates for our clients and save them money on their commercial gas bills,” Nelson said. EEA typically saves commercial customers between 5-‐20% on their natural gas bills.
EEA is able to manage a client’s energy procurement in a process that is transparent to the client. EEA also offers the service of auditing utility bills such as gas, electric and telecomm for errors, which has the potential to earn back thousands of dollars for most of its clients.
“What better value proposition is there than presenting an opportunity to lower a business’ commercial natural gas rate, and do it with the least amount of effort on the client’s part,” Nelson said.
“We make it ‘easy’ to do business with us, and at no charge to the client.”
WESTERN COLORADO ENERGY INITIATIVE
Nelson, his wife, and five children have lived in Grand Junction since 1995. A far cry from his native Brooklyn, it’s been an idyllic place to start and raise a family.
What makes this place especially unique is the amount of passionate, active nonprofit agencies and churches in Mesa County, he said.
“I could live anywhere in the world, but Grand Junction is where it’s at. I’ve never been part of a community with so many nonprofit agencies working so hard to help others. They are the backbone of this community. Love makes the world go ‘round and so do the nonprofits.”
Inspired by all the good stuff happening in his adopted hometown, Nelson wants to do his part and somehow tie his businesses, particularly Element Energy Advisors, directly into a giving program. And so the “Western Colorado Energy Initiative” was born.
EEA will donate 100% of its commissions to local nonprofits such as Hilltop, Roice-‐ Hurst Humane Society, The Salvation Army, and The House (teen homeless shelter) with more coming on board. Businesses can also designate a nonprofit of their choice, so long as it’s based in Western Colorado.
“I don’t plan on making a dime. Our broker fees will go directly to a local nonprofit.”
The program is only applicable to companies in Western Colorado who work with Energy Element Advisors and are successful at lowering their natural gas bills. The idea is that the giving stays local with businesses in Western Colorado helping nonprofits in Western Colorado.
“I don’t want to help my community a little bit. I want to help as much as I can. I hope to give a million dollars away,” Nelson said.
The idea of businesses partnering with nonprofits is called “cause marketing.” In simple terms, the concept goes like this: Buy a product (Yoplait yogurt) and a portion of the proceeds goes to a charity (breast cancer research).
EEA’s plan is much more advantageous.
“We are not selling a product and it’s not going to cost the business a thing. In fact, we are saving businesses money on a commodity they already need and investing our commission from the savings switch into a local charity.”
Nonprofits are always scraping for dollars as their demand usually exceeds their resources. EEA’s Western Slope Energy Initiative hopes to be able to make some sizable donations and give back to a great community.
If you are interested in learning more about the Western Colorado Energy Initiative, contact EEA consultant Melodie Simon or Shayla Kraft at 970‐986-6088 or visit EEA’s website.