AGR Nevada Recognizes Veterans Service

agr_vetVeterans Day always provides occasion for heartfelt recognition at AGR Group offices. It’s especially solemn at AGR Nevada, where All Global Resources General Manager Dan Rieke, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, leads the reflections.

In honor of our veterans, Dan wrote the following and delivered an address to the staff.

Two hundred forty years ago, a sleeping beauty awoke for the first time from a slumber that began at the dawn of man…and her name was Liberty.

And she cast a newborn eye across a land of plenty, and troubled times. For her people struggled with the tyranny of an unjust government, and a world without rights.

And her people needed rescue…So she created the Veteran.

She needed someone too young to vote, unable to read, owning nothing, yet willing to pick up a rifle and win for her people the right to vote.

She needed someone to skip dinner, lift a hundred-pound pack on their back, hike 20 miles through the rain, dig a ditch, lay down in the mud, and sleep for thirty minutes…then get up and do it all over again.

She needed someone to say goodbye to family and friends, sweethearts and unborn children, and travel to unknown shores so they could jump on a grenade to save the life of another.

Someone to leap from a helicopter into icy waters and swim a thousand yards in a hurricane to save a drowning dog.

Someone to calm a terrified child, dig survivors from the rubble, run into a burning building, and unload food for starving villagers…All while under enemy fire.

She needed them to travel across the world, lose a leg, return home, and learn how to walk again.

And then learn to flip burgers, dump trash, mop floors, and thank a customer for a tip for the rest of their lives.

And she needed them to do all that having only asked them once.

And in the end, after all the sacrifice and despair that appends itself to war, and peace, her quiet thank you would be the draped flag adorning her silent hero lying there, a humble goodbye to one who helped her stand…

Her veteran.

Dan Rieke
11 November, 2016

Long Island Organized for Power to Choose

nyFor years, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has lagged behind the rest of the state of New York in implementation of the Power To Choose program. The New York Public Service Commission may finally be working toward a solution to that problem.

LIPA is a municipal power authority that has historically overseen the distribution of electricity to customers within Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York. Since LIPA owns no generation assets and no resources with which to operate the grid, it has historically contracted with other regulated utilities to handle the task. Previous operators have included Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG, owner of PSEG in New Jersey) and National Grid.

Calls for the privatization of LIPA have been more audible in recent years. Citing issues with LIPA’s ability to respond to Hurricane Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo transferred operational control of LIPA to PSEG. This pseudo-privatization of the power authority resulted in a rebranding to PSEG Long Island effective January 2014.

PSEG Long Island is currently in the process of soliciting approval for a new three-year rate plan. During this process, the issue of limited availability of retail choice has been brought to the forefront. The New York Public Service Commission has declined to allow PSEG Long Island to form an independent collaborative with energy service companies to resolve issues inherent in the Long Island market. Instead, the PSC has elected to investigate the issue directly.

Improvements to retail access may finally be in sight for the Long Island market, and a major opportunity for retail suppliers may be available as a result. LIPA represents about 1.1 million potential choice customers, few of which currently have taken part in the Power To Choose program.

We will continue to monitor the LIPA situation and provide coverage of important developments. As the market inevitably opens to competition, we stand ready to provide marketing assistance for energy service companies looking to enter the market. AGR Group has more than a decade worth of success in the retail energy market. Contact us today for a consultation.

Chicago Aggregation Saves Millions in Energy Costs

We cheered when old friend Integrys Energy Services won the City of Chicago’s electric aggregation contract. Six months into the program, we’re on our feet screaming “bravo” and whistling with our fingers.

chicagoThe program has been a smashing success, as nearly a million customers have saved a combined total of $21 million on their monthly power bills. And because of the City’s required renewable energy component, the program has also helped to reduce carbon emissions by 16%, based on a study from the Perfect Power Institute.

“Through the success of the municipal aggregation program, the City of Chicago has decreased its carbon footprint while delivering savings to residents and small businesses,” explained Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in a press release. “By supporting Illinois wind farms and eliminating coal from the city’s portfolio, Chicagoans will build a cleaner, healthier environment for our children.”

The program was approved by Chicago voters in November 2012, allowing the Windy City to negotiate the best possible energy rates on behalf of its citizens. Integrys Energy Services, a longtime client of AGR Group, won the bidding process and began onboarding customers in January in one of the largest-ever municipal aggregations.

A major factor in the success of this program is the opt-out rules, whereby small businesses and residents are automatically migrated unless they specifically indicate otherwise. Other states, like Connecticut, allow municipalities to serve as aggregators for only for those customers who opt in, resulting in much lower participation rates.

“It’s a great success story for energy choice and for municipal aggregations,” AGR Group President Matt Judkin said. “It’s resulted in significant savings for Chicago residents, and provides a great example of what’s possible on a grand scale.”

AGR Group provides the finest sales and customer support services in the retail energy industry. If you are a competitive energy supplier looking to grow your customer base through energy telemarketing, door-to-door energy sales or lead generation, contact us for a consultation.

AGR Nevada Names New IT Manager

AGR Group’s energy sales representatives walk through the doors of their respective call centers every morning and flip on their terminals, confident that they’ll blink to life as an essential tool of productivity.

Without a flawlessly functioning computer and phone system, our salespeople would be just stuck in neutral, grinding their gears.

Smooth and efficient data flow between internal AGR Group departments and our clients has been a focus in recent years, as we’ve upgraded our systems and made significant technological investment. Our business continues to grow at a rapid pace, as we add seats to existing call centers and network remote offices.

It’s extremely important to have capable hands on our IT wheel, and at AGR Nevada, it’s our new IT Manager, Anthony Gorss.

Anthony joined the team in July, with 20 years of progressive IT experience. He’s an expert on systems operations and security, and has keen troubleshooting skills.

Anthony’s duties cover a wide range of essential functions, including firewalls, networking components, VoIP services, server management and hardware purchases.

“Our technical teams are more important than ever to the strength of our operation and our ability to expand,” AGR Group Chief Operating Officer Adolfo Quintero said. “IT is at the heart of everything we do.”

AGR Group provides the finest sales and customer support services in the retail energy industry. If you are a competitive energy supplier looking to grow your customer base through energy telemarketing, door-to-door energy sales or lead generation, contact us for a consultation.

Energy Telesales Team Recognizes The Best

If it’s Friday at an AGR Group call center, you’ll see people wearing their pride.

Friday is the day that the elite energy telesales representatives and managers break out their sports teams jerseys, specially tailored to represent excellence on the job.

The names on the back are as cryptic as they are unique: Enforcer. Dead Eye. Mr. Incredible. Ice Man. The monikers reflect the character and personality of the individual, but they all mean the same thing: top producer.

“It’s a fun recognition program we have” AGR President Matt Judkin said. “Somebody earns their jersey after a long period of consistent performance. We only recognize the best of the best, and it’s become a real honor – not only to receive it, but also to award it. They’ve earned them through hard work and persistence.”

The winners and their nicknames are picked by executive staff, and recognized in front of the entire energy telesales room. They receive a rousing ovation from their peers, and a polyester-mesh ticket to an exclusive club.

“It’s kind of like an athlete making the Hall of Fame,” said Judkin. “Only a small percentage make it to the top.”

Leading Clean Energy States Among AGR Group’s Most Active Markets

Clean Edge, a West Coast clean-energy consulting firm, released its annual “State Clean Energy Index,” a comprehensive measurement of how the country is progressing with renewable energy development.

States were ranked based on more than 70 indicators spanning categories including technology, policy and capital. Among the top 10 states in the rankings were New York, Illinois and Massachusetts, all of which are long-time proponents of energy choice and active AGR Group markets.

“It’s great to see several states that promote retail energy competition are also leaders in clean energy advancement”, said AGR Group President Matt Judkin. “We have had positive customer response to our clients’ green product offerings, and we look forward to providing more environmentally-friendly options in the future.”

At AGR Group, our energy telesales, appointment setting and lead generating services are first-in-class outsource options for retail energy suppliers. In 10 years of operation, we have developed an expertise unmatched by other energy sales and service providers.

If you want to grow your customer base, provide superior service to your existing clients, or are in need of consulting services in the retail energy space, AGR Group is your source.

Taking Postive Steps Toward Industry Standards

AGR Group recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of retail energy sales, which easily makes us an old-timer. We’ve been around since the early days of our industry, and have a unique perspective on its maturation process.

We’ve witnessed first steps, growing pains and triumphs. A recent meeting between energy suppliers and direct marketers provided the framework for another milestone in the industry’s growth, into self-awareness and shared responsibility.

AGR Group is a proud member of the National Energy Marketers Association (NEM) the nation’s leading non-profit trade organization representing energy suppliers, consumers and industry-related products, services and information technologies. The NEM works to build consensus among its members to promote competitively neutral rules and standards that support a competitive retail energy marketplace.

In late January, the NEM began a bold and welcome initiative. At its Winter Executive Committee Meeting, held in Charleston, S.C., the first agenda item for discussion was Energy Industry Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Compliance.

Representatives of about a dozen retail energy suppliers and a handful of direct marketers such as AGR Group had a positive, lively discussion about the need to establish and self-enforce a member code of conduct. It’s not only prudent; it’s the right thing to do.

In a decade or so of energy deregulation, it’s become clear that shopping for an alternate supplier is rarely high on a consumer’s to-do list. The energy products offer price protection and, in many cases, significant savings, but a very small percentage of sales are unsolicited. Suppliers routinely engage sales organizations, like AGR, to make outbound phone calls or knock on doors to offer their products directly to consumers.

But how do energy suppliers evaluate their prospective sales partners, and choose a vendor trusted to convey an accurate message and uphold brand values?

The direct sales process, especially surrounding a product and process with which customers may not be familiar, inherently leads to a certain level of miscommunication, and consumer complaints are inevitable. But we as an industry must do everything we can to minimize them.

Complaint levels can only be reduced through proper agent training, stringent internal monitoring and quality control processes, and fostering a proper atmosphere that emphasizes long-term growth and interpersonal responsibility rather than the quick buck.

At AGR Group, we have always taken great pride in our quality assurance measures, and our results are, frankly, quite impressive. Our clients understand and appreciate our reputation for delivering clean sales, and it’s a primary reason they continue to do business with us.

For the long-term health of our industry, however, quality sales and low complaint ratios should not be a competitive advantage. It should be baseline standard. And that’s what makes the NEM initiative so exciting.

For the first time, there is a recognition that we need to act collaboratively to establish and self-police a standard of ethics across the entire retail energy industry. Yes, there are codes of conduct in various states to which suppliers are asked to agree, and in turn they work with their chosen sales vendors to run a clean program. But this initiative is something different. It’s a grassroots, bottom-up effort that we all recognize as vitally important for sustainable growth.

We advocate for a standard code of conduct for NEM members; a “good housekeeping” seal, if you will, that conveys to suppliers and regulatory bodies alike that training, quality and compliance measures are in place to ensure a positive consumer experience. It would also allow the members to hold each other accountable, in the recognition that their individual efforts reflect upon the retail energy community as a whole.

As a proud member, I applaud the NEM for taking this initiative, and wholeheartedly support its intended outcome.

–Matt Judkin
President, AGR Group

Pennsylvania PUC Encourages Switching

Our friends at Energy Choice Matters report the encouraging news that the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission is ordering eight of the state’s Electric Distribution Companies to send postcards to its smaller-volume customers encouraging them to shop for a competitive supplier.

The consumer postcard will also promote href=””>, the PUC’s web site for customers considering their alternate electric options. The site boasts the statistic that more than 1.4 million customers have already switched their electric suppliers. It also highlights factors to consider when switching, ways to pay your bill, and conservation ideas.

We welcome all forms of public education around the benefits energy choice, of course, and it’s always a benefit to our outbound telemarketing efforts when regulatory bodies echo that message. AGR Group has been selling in Pennsylvania since 2009.

Another Big Month of Outbound Telemarketing

Kudos to the entire sales team for another great month of outbound telemarketing sales on behalf of our energy clients. The call centers in Florida, Nevada and California combined to enroll 24,170 residential and 3,957 small-medium commercial accounts in energy choice programs across the U.S. and Canada.

These numbers are very significant for a number of reasons. First of all, we love it when we can win for our clients. Secondly, our statistics are up over last month (which is always a good thing). Lastly, and perhaps most important to our energy sales force, The Game is well underway. That’s the year-long race for bragging rights, awarded every fall at the employee party in Las Vegas. Stay tuned for a standings update.

Team Effort Produces Green Energy Award

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently presented Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES) with its prestigious Green Power Supplier of the Year Award in the non-utility category. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in programs and products that significantly advance the development of green power sources.

WGES is one of our longest-tenured partners, and we’re happy to have contributed to the sales effort of their green products. AGR Group began outbound telemarketing campaigns for WGES in 2008. Our efforts on their behalf have included offering CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets and CleanSteps® WindPower products in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, DC.

“It’s an honor for our company to be recognized for our green power initiatives, especially by the Department of Energy,” said Sherry Robinson, Manager of Mass Market Sales and Field Services for Washington Gas Energy Services. “We rely on our sales partners to support our efforts to market our products to consumers and we appreciate AGR Group’s contributions towards our receiving this recognition. It’s been a team effort.”

WGES has a history of green energy leadership. In 2002 WGES was the first supplier in the mid-Atlantic region to include wind power in its standard electricity offer, buying renewable energy from the first wind farm to come online in the local region.

“When customers choose WGES as their energy supplier, they have the ability to choose green products that can reduce their carbon footprint,” WGES President Henry Warren said in a release announcing the award. “In 2010 alone, WGES customers have helped offset more than 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking almost 90,000 cars off the road for an entire year.”

Hundreds of those environmentally conscious customers said ‘yes’ to a WGES green offering through an AGR outbound telemarketing representative. It’s a great feeling to know that together with our trusted partners, we’re making a difference.