How does a local couple
become involved in the utility industry?
The Alberta electricity industry is quite unique to North America. We have both regulated and nonregulated portions of our electricity bills. This process of deregulation began in 1996. It was through this that deregulation opened the market to competitive retailers.
Our journey started in 2012. We had just moved into a new home, and were exploring the option of putting solar panels on our house. Russell was a home builder at that time. He was attending training courses on how to install the solar panels and acquire information on them.
He came home more excited than usual from one of those courses. He had found out about Utility Net and they were looking for individuals in different communities in Alberta to provide a regional and local presence.They were looking to partner with companies that would be local. They were looking for partners who were part of the community they served to provide a more local service.
On the next Saturday, we headed to Calgary to meet with Nick Clark from Utility Net. The purpose of the visit was for Russell to convince me this was a good idea, learn more and to basically interview each other and see if we could work together in this partnership.
Russell and I discussed the pros and cons of Utility Net all the way home. In our minds there was no reason why we would not proceed with this. Ironically, 3 days later Russell had a major accident and ended up in hospital for 10 days. Sitting by Russell’s bedside while he was in hospital, i wrote up the business plan to this venture.
It was right from inception that we came up with the Community Partner Program. Nick had stated that there was this capability already in the billing system that Utility Net had. It was this opportunity, compiled with my past fundraising efforts with The Sifton Playground Committee and The Val Wolski memorial Award, that put this idea into motion. I knew how hard it was to fundraise and how many times not-for-profits were put under fire and the mercy of the funding source. I was looking at giving them an opportunity for long term residual income with partnership. We wanted to help increase a sense of community and involvement by letting our customers choose where we sent the 10% of our profits from their home. To pick an organization that aligned with their personal ties to the community.
We originally chose 3 organizations to work with. Habitat For Humanity, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Battle River Watershed Alliance. In 2014 we were approached by the Drumheller Humane society to be added as a partner. In 2015 we added The Open Door to our partnership.
Utility Net has been in the industry for +30 years. They were instrumental in changing the billing for the oilfield. Their streamlined billing process was a game changer, as the prior process was lengthy and redundant. When deregulation occurred, they had the billing software in place and entered the competitive retail electricity market.
Camrose Energy is a Marketer under the Service Alberta Licensing of Utility Net. They take care of the administration of the billing for us.. It is with this built in support that allows Camrose Energy to focus on the individual customer service that we have become known for.
So Camrose Energy became my passion! I am able to help my customers find the best option for them and give back to the community. We are able to be a support, and to help people understand their utility bills and answer any questions they have, usually by appointment at the comfort of their kitchen table. We strive to make the faceless utility industry understandable and accessible.