In case you haven’t noticed, we seem to be having a slight energy problem. Starting in the West and moving steadily eastward, power costs are rising, and the expectation of many energy focus groups is that businesses better start helping out a little. A supply crunch, coupled with deregulation, reregulation, and industry restructuring, has many energy customers scrambling for ways to cut procurement costs and manage consumption. Like magic, a crop of Web-based business products and services have now emerged, claiming to manage the pain of skyrocketing energy prices. How do they do it?
Yet deregulation raised new problems. The energy market is fragmented both geographically and functionally, meaning it can be time-consuming and expensive for buyers and sellers to meet and obtain pricing data. A lack of procurement standards means that buyers and distributors have different terms and requirements. Also, the paper-based process of settling contracts can take weeks with limited opportunity for suppliers to rebid.