Traditionally, November 1st is the most common date that many large customers have their utility and/or supply contracts roll over to the next year. Now that her busiest time of year is behind us, Julie Kee, Account Manager for 360 Energy took a few minutes out to tell us more.
What is your role?
I’m the person primarily responsible for arranging natural gas contracts for our customers in Ontario, as well as occasionally assisting with procurement of gas and electricity contracts throughout North America. On behalf of our clients, I work with suppliers and utilities to secure the best possible pricing for gas commodity and transportation. I track their usage throughout the year, helping them balance their gas loads when needed and securing optimal utility rates based on projected consumption.
How long have you worked here?
I just celebrated my 8th anniversary at 360 Energy.
What do you most like about your work?
It’s a fast paced work environment. There are always new challenges popping up. I like problem solving. And I really like all the people I get to work with from customers to fellow employees. I am learning all the time and willing to answer any energy-related question our customers raise. When I can’t answer it, I find someone at 360 who can.
How do you describe the work you do?
We take care of many of our customers’ energy requirements by proactively managing their supply and distribution throughout the year with a customized approach. There is ongoing communication with each client so that we manage and optimize their unique costs and risks by analyzing fluctuating markets and the client’s energy usage patterns. We work closely with our customers to forecast future energy usage and then interface with each utility on their behalf to confirm the best utility rate structure for the next year. We also set up and execute competitive tendering processes to arrange their supply (commodity and/or transportation as required). Top-tier suppliers are arranged so they can provide pricing for the same options, all at the same, pre-determined time for immediate execution. This process is important for obtaining the lowest possible price for the customer, while limiting the time and effort for top tier suppliers to capture business. It’s an effective, sustainable model that we use to ensure that our customers are never subject to pricing from a single supplier, a practice which often leads to prices that climb higher over time.
Although September and October are particularly busy times for buying and selling gas, we are watching the market all year round, constantly learning. We convey this information to our customers on a daily basis through our Natural Gas Daily publication and through direct contact when it is especially relevant to a particular client’s situation. As an Account Manager, my goal is to ensure our customers are kept informed and understand what’s best for them and their businesses, without bias.
What is happening in the natural gas market in 2018?
We have been watching several factors that could heavily influence prices this coming year:
- There are record natural gas production volumes this year.
- North American power generation has also driven record natural gas use.
- The output of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in North America is increasing each year. We need to keep an eye on its expected future development/demand overseas, as this will increasingly impact pricing going forward.
- Storage levels of natural gas ahead of the coming winter are low.
- Pipeline restrictions and long haul transportation. Transporting natural gas has been increasingly priced higher than the gas commodity!
- Weather, expected weather, and the mixed impacts that extreme storms like hurricanes have. These impact natural gas consumption and subsequent prices, depending on the areas that they hit.
Do you have any advice for your customers?
Read the Natural Gas Daily. If not every day, at least read it a couple of times a week. The Gas Daily tracks all the factors I’ve mentioned. If you have questions, call us. Ask me. We want to help our customers develop their gas purchase strategy, and part of that is being aware of what’s going on with gas markets on a regular basis. It’s a great tool that all of our gas customers have access to.
What do you like doing when you are not at work?
My education background is in Environmental Studies. I love to kayak, camp and paint. I’ve been a volunteer for the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program since I was 15. Trumpeter swans are the world’s largest waterfowl and have been reintroduced to Ontario since the 1980’s. Banding and tagging them helps track their movements and population spread. I love seeing where the birds I’ve tagged end up going!