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Glossary of Energy Terms



Competitive Power Suppliers: Companies that sell power - also called electricity providers, power generators or energy marketers. Your power is delivered by the local electric utility/distribution company (DISCO).

DPU (Department of Public Utilities): A state agency/department that regulates electric utilities and competitive power supply sales.

Distribution Company: The company that delivers power to your home or business, also known as your local electric utility/distribution company. (DISCO)

FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission): The federal agency that regulates interstate energy transmission, sales, etc.

Generation: The process of changing other forms of energy, such as fossil fuels, nuclear or renewable energy, into electricity.

Kilowatt-Hour (kWh): The standard unit to measure electricity. For example, ten 100-watt light bulbs used for 1 hour consume one kilowatt-hour (1,000 watt-hours) of electricity. Your electricity use determines the total number of kilowatt-hours on your bill. An average residential customer uses approximately 500kWh per month.

Power Sources: The different types of fuels that can be used to produce electricity: nuclear, fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) and renewable energy resources.

PUC (Public Utility Commission): The state agency that regulates electric utilities and competitive power supply sales.

Renewable Power/Energy Sources: Power that is produced with environmentally-clean power sources such as solar, wind, and hydro.

Restructuring/Deregulation: Opening a market, whose prices and practices were formerly fully regulated by government, to competition.

Transmission: The delivery of electricity from a generator to a local electric utility/distribution company (DISCO) over high-voltage power lines.

natural gas

Natural Gas

Apollo ID: Six digit number at the top of a natural gas invoice.

Balancing: The process of equalizing a shipper's receipt of gas into a pipeline with withdrawals out of a pipeline system. This can be done daily, monthly or seasonally.

Basis Differential: The difference in the market value of natural gas at two separate physical locations at the same point in time.

BTU (British Thermal Unit): The quantity of heat required to raise one pound of water, one degree Fahrenheit.

Buy at Market Order: A buy order at the current market offer price for a specific volume and month. Buy at market orders are immediately executed at the best current market offer obtainable. This type of order gives the customer the flexibility to take advantage of current market pricing or stop themselves out in real time.

Capacity Assignment: An entity that holds the rights and obligations to interstate pipeline capacity; the entity can transfer those rights and obligations to another entity.

CCF: 100 cubic feet.

CGA (Cost of Gas Adjustment): The mechanism by which a utility periodically adjusts its prices in order to compensate for changes in the gas acquisition costs.

City Gate: Physical location where gas is delivered by an interstate pipeline to a local distribution company.

Cogeneration: The sequential production of electricity and useful thermal energy from the same energy source.

Cubic Feet: The most common unit of measure of gas volume. One cubic foot roughly equals 1,000 Btu's.

Decatherm: 10 therms of 1 million Btu's. Very roughly: 1 mcf = 1 MMBtu = 1 Dth = 10 ccf.

Distribution: Local pipeline delivery of natural gas.

Dual-Fuel: The ability of a facility or piece of equipment to use more than one kind of fuel, usually gas or oil.

FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a government agency.

Firm Service: The highest quality sales or service offered to customers - no planned interruption.

Interruptible Service: Gas service that is subject to interruption at the option of the pipeline or LDC. Tariffs for interruptible service are cheaper than firm.

Interstate Pipeline: A federally regulated company engaged in the business of transporting natural gas across state lines from producing regions to end use markets.

LDC: Local Distribution Company

Line Loss: A percentage of gas received by a pipeline or LDC that is retained to compensate for lost and unaccounted for gas.

LNG: Liquefied Natural Gas. Natural gas converted to a liquid state, usually for storage purposes, by pressure and severe cooling.

Load Factor: The ratio of the average amount of gas a customer takes to the peak amount of gas a customer takes in a given period.

MCF: 1,000 cubic feet.

NYMEX: New York Mercantile Exchange: The commodity exchanges based in New York where natural gas futures contracts and other energy futures are traded.

Off-Peak: Period of year when minimum demand for fuel occurs (typically April through October). Generally, costs are lower during this period.

On-Peak: Period of year when maximum demand for fuel occurs (typically November through March). Generally, costs are higher during this period.

Pipeline Capacity: A service provided by a pipeline for a fixed monthly reservation charge which gives a transporter the right to move up to a maximum daily quantity of gas between defined points on the pipeline's system.

Rate Class: Type of billing classification or category.

Spot Gas: Interruptible or best efforts gas for specified volumes on a limited (usually monthly) basis. 

Stop Loss Order: An above market buy order for a specific price, volume, and month. Stop loss orders can protect a customer from upside price risk in a rising market. If the NYMEX trades above the stop loss level during regular trading hours by at least 1/10 cent, execution is guaranteed. Stop loss orders may be filled higher in the event of an overnight "gap higher" through the stop loss level.

Tariff: Compilation of all of the effective rate schedules for a company, along with general terms and conditions.

Telemetering: A form of remote metering - often electronic.

Therm: Unit of measure of heat content, equivalent to 100,000 Btu's.

Transportation Gas: Third party owned gas delivered on the interstate pipeline system to a LDC on behalf of a customer.

Trigger Order: A below market buy order for a specific price, volume, and month. Trigger Orders enable customers to take advantage of a falling market. If the NYMEX trades below the trigger level during the regular session by at least 1/10 cent, order execution is guaranteed. However, if trigger levels are not achieved, customers can be vulnerable to substantial upside price risk in a rising market.

Unbundling: Separating costs on a pipeline or distribution system and charging customers for each component (commodity, transportation, storage etc).

WACOG: Weighted Average Cost of Gas.