Energy terms and definitions:

Alternative Energy - Energy as solar, wind, hydro, nuclear or other, that can replace or supplement traditional fossil-fuel based sources of energy as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Ampere - A unit of measure for an electrical current; the amount of current that flows in a circuit at an electromotive force of one Volt and at a resistance of one Ohm. Abbreviated as amp.

Array - Any number of solar photovoltaic modules or solar thermal collectors or reflectors connected together to provide electrical or thermal energy Audit (Energy) The process of determining energy consumption, by various techniques, of a building or facility.

Benefits Charge - The addition of a per unit tax on sales of electricity, with the revenue generated used for or to encourage investments in energy efficiency measures and/or renewable energy projects.

BIO Energy -The conversion of the complex carbohydrates in organic material into energy.

Capacity - The maximum electric power output of a generating unit (measured in MW) or the maximum amount of power that lines or equipment can safely carry.

Cogeneration - The generation of electricity or shaft power by an energy conversion system and the concurrent use of rejected thermal energy from the conversion system as an auxiliary energy source

Congestion - A condition that occurs when the amount of requested transactions across a transmission path exceeds the physical capacity of that path.

Demand Response - Economic programs that offer end-use customers the opportunity to modify their electric usage in response to wholesale market price signals. Emergency Demand Response programs involve situations where demand will outstrip supply; in a critical peak day, measures are taken to maintain grid reliability.          

Demand - The rate at which electric energy is delivered to or by a system or part of a system, generally expressed in kilowatts (kW), megawatts (MW), or gigawatts(GW), at a given instant or averaged over any designated interval of time.

Deregulation - The process of decreasing or eliminating government regulatory control over industries and allowing competitive forces to drive the market. Deregulation involves breaking up or "unbundling" the 3 components of electricity supply; generation, transmission, and distribution.

Distribution - One of the three parts that makes up the electric grid. The delivery of electricity over medium and low-voltage lines to end-use consumers. Distribution is owned and represented by the consumer's local distribution company (LDC), and is state regulated.

States with Deregulated Energy

State Electricity Gas
California No Yes (Limited)
Connecticut Yes No
Colorado No Yes
Delaware Yes No
Florida No Yes
Georgia No Yes
Illinois Yes Yes
Indiana No Yes
Kentucky No Yes
Maine Yes No
Maryland Yes Yes
Massachusets Yes No
Michigan Yes Yes
Montana Yes Yes
Nebraska No Yes
New Hampshire Yes No
New Jersey Yes Yes
New Mexico No Yes (Limited)
New York Yes Yes
Ohio Yes Yes
Oregon Yes No
Pennsylvania Yes Yes
Rhode Island Yes No
South Dakota No Yes
Texas Yes No
Virginia No Yes
Washington No Yes
Washington DC Yes Yes
West Virginia No Yes (Limited)
Wyoming No Yes
Lighting, Heating and Air Conditioning account for up to 70% of energy usage in most commercial buildings.
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Fixed-price Contract - Energy costs that are fixed for a predetermined amount of time                                                                                           regardless of market conditions.

Geothermal Power - Energy derived from heat within the Earth's interior.

Grid - Usually used to describe the interconnected electricity transmission system.

Index -price Contract - The cost of energy that is determined by and fluctuates with current market conditions.

Kilowatt (kW) - A unit of energy equal to 1,000 watts: equivalent to approximately 1.34 horsepower.  

Kilowatt-hour (kWh) - A unit of energy equal to 1,000 watts over the course of 1 hour. The kWh is most commonly known as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.      

Lighting Retrofit - The practice of replacing lighting components in a facility with counterparts that make it use energy more efficiently.

Local Distribution Company (LDC) - Common term for a privately-owned natural gas utility that provides retail natural gas services to end use customers and is usually regulated by the PUC.

Megawatt (mW) - A unit of energy equivalent to 1000 kW or 1,000,000 watts.

Megawatt-hour (mWh) - A unit of energy equivalent to one thousand kilowatt-hours or 1 million watt-hours.   

Meter - A device used to measure the amount of el electricity flowing through a point on the system.

New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) - An organization that runs the market for trading of commodity futures and options.

Pass - Through Charges these are fees that are “passed-though” to the customer with no added margin.  These include Capacity, RMR, Congestion, Ancillary Services, Renewable Resources.  

Peak Demand - The maximum demand for electricity in a given period of time.

Megawatt (MW) - A megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts or 1 million watts.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) - A financing option for residential solar in which a solar company owns (and installs, monitors, maintains) your solar panels; you pay for electricity. With PPAs, you avoid the high upfront costs of installing solar and pay a monthly rate that depends on how much energy your panels produce

Public Utility - an investor owned utility regulated by the PUC. “Public utility” excludes municipal utilities, cooperatives, and power marketing authorities.

Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) - One of the three parts that makes up the electric grid. Synonymous with ISO, an RTO operates over a regional geographical area and fits specific criteria defined by FERC. The system operation manages the transmission grid by dispatching generation and scheduling reserves and transmission.

RMR: Reliability Must Run - This fee was instated to meet the demands on the grid that might be needed only during energy emergencies. These needs can be during extreme weather conditions or if a power plant stops generating electricity. The result is that there are generators sit idle to be available for these peak periods.   These costs and the cost to run the plants when needed are supported by the RMR fee.

Renewable Fuel - A fuel that is naturally replenished such as wind or solar.

Smart Grid - Hardware, software and other upgrades added to the power system to enhance responsiveness to events that impact the electrical power grid and optimize day-to-day operational efficiency.

Smart Meter - An advanced electric meter that records consumption in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes.

Tariff - All effective rate schedules for a utility, along with the general terms and conditions of service.

Transmission Charge - Charges for moving high voltage electricity from a generation facility to the distribution lines of an electric distribution company.

Natural Gas Terms:

Basis -  an amount of money added to the NYMEX natural gas price to account for the pipeline and delivery costs of getting gas from the well-head to the local distribution center.

BCF - Billion Cubic Feet

Dekatherm or DTH - One million BTU of energy, or ten therms                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      NYMEX Plus Basis -  A method of contracting gas where the contract specifies a fixed Basis number that is added to the NYMEX market price. This approach makes sense for customers who expect energy prices to remain stable or go down.
Therm - A unit of measurement for natural gas equal to 100,000 BTU of energy.