Just Energy

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Just Energy Group Inc.
Type Public
Traded as TSXJE
NYSEJE
Industry Energy Marketing
Founded 1997
Headquarters Mississauga, Ontario, CA,
Houston, Texas, USA
Key people Rebecca MacDonald (Executive Chair)
Ken Hartwick (CEO)
Products Natural Gas, Electricity
Employees 1,000+ (December 2011)[1]
Website www.justenergy.com

Just Energy Group Inc. (formerly Just Energy Income Fund and previously to that Energy Savings Income Fund) is a natural gas and electricity retailer operating in markets across North America.

Operations[edit]

Just Energy is a publicly traded company (TSX:JE, NYSE:JE) and serves 4.5 million customers[2] collectively under its affiliate companies Just Energy, Hudson Energy, Commerce Energy, Tara Energy, Amigo Energy, National Home Services, Momentis, Hudson Energy Solar, Green Star Energy and Terra Grain Fuels. The company was listed and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on January 30, 2012 (NYSE:JE) and entered the European commercial energy market in July 2012 under its Hudson Energy UK brand.[3] In October 2013, the company expanded into the UK residential market under the Green Star Energy brand.

Just Energy's business involves the sale of natural gas and/or electricity supply to residential and commercial customers under long term fixed price, price-protected or variable-priced contracts and green energy products..[4] The company derives its margin or gross profit from the difference between the price at which it is able to sell the commodities to its customers and the related price at which it purchases the associated volumes from its suppliers.[5]

Markets[edit]

Just Energy supplies natural gas and/or electricity in New York, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, California, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the United States; Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in Canada; and in the United Kingdom.

Products and services[edit]

With offices across Canada, the United States and the UK, Just Energy’s business involves the sale of natural gas and electricity supply to residential and commercial customers. By providing variable price and price protected programs, Just Energy customers offset their exposure to changes in the price of these essential commodities.

The company’s JustGreen program enables customers to have all or a portion of their electricity sourced from renewable energy sources such as wind, hydroelectricity or biomass. The company also offers customers the ability to buy carbon credits to offset gas consumption.

Through Hudson Energy solar, the company produces renewable energy. Subsidiary National Home Services specializes in the rental of Energy Star-qualified water heaters, furnaces, and air conditioners; as well as smart thermostats.

Name change[edit]

In 2009, the company undertook a rebranding campaign from Energy Savings Income Fund and U.S Energy Savings, Ontario Energy Savings, Alberta Energy Savings to Just Energy Income Fund across all of its Canadian and U.S. markets. The company incorporated in 2011 and was renamed Just Energy Group.

Acquisitions[edit]

In April 2010, the company expanded its marketing distribution channel and launched a new network marketing arm under the brand, Momentis. The company completed the acquisition of Toronto-based direct energy marketer Universal Energy Corporation on July 1, 2009.[6] From that acquisition, Just Energy gained National Home Services.[7] In May 2010, Just Energy acquired Hudson Energy Group, an energy marketer in the U.S. commercial sector. In August 2011, Just Energy announced a deal to acquire Fulcrum Retail Holdings LLC, a privately held electricity provider operating in Texas.[8] In July 2012, the company entered the European commercial energy market and began marketing in the UK under its Hudson Energy Supply UK Ltd. brand.[3] In October 2013, the company expanded into the UK residential market under the Green Star Energy brand.

Controversies[edit]

The Better Business Bureau, an unofficial charitable organization funded primarily by charging companies for accreditation,[9] has given Just Energy a "F" rating, and provides the following information:

BBB files indicate that this business has a large volume and pattern of complaints concerning misleading sales practices. Consumer complaints allege that door to door sales persons are misleading consumers, providing false information and using high pressure sales tactics. This company has been notified of our concerns. They have failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints.[10]

In June 2003, the Toronto Star reported that both Direct Energy and the Ontario Energy Savings Corp., a subsidiary of the Energy Savings Income Fund, had been charged with fraud as a result of its agents having forged energy contracts and had been fined. Ontario Energy Savings Corp. defended these charges by stating that the forgery was a result of individual agents, and not indicative of the way the company conducts business.[11]

In July 2008, the Attorney General of New York state brought action against U.S Energy Savings (now Just Energy) for deceptive sales practices. The company was obliged to pay $200,000 in penalties and costs to the state.[12]

In 2009, the Illinois State Attorney General’s Office reached a $1 million settlement with Just Energy, formerly U.S. Energy Savings Corp., as a result of a lawsuit alleging the company sold natural gas offers using misleading sales tactics that promised consumers savings. Under the settlement, Just Energy must make $1 million in restitution available to eligible Illinois residential and small commercial customers. It also must allow current eligible customers to cancel their contracts without incurring an early termination fee.[13]

In 2010, three former Just Energy salespeople were alleged to have secured contracts by fraudulent means.[14][15]

In response to criticism, Just Energy's CEO Ken Hartwick said in an interview with Report on Business magazine in 2013 that Just Energy dropped the savings claim years ago. The steps taken by the company are to ensure that consumers know that they are purchasing what equates to an insurance product. All sales are followed up with a verification phone call by a third party to mitigate against any aggressive sales tactics.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Energy Savings Income Fund". Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  2. ^ Justin Loiseau (22 Oct. 2013). "2 Dividend Stocks With 12% Yields". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Lauren Pope (9 May 2012). "Interview with Steve Fitzsimons of new business energy supplier, Hudson Energy". Retrieved 11 Jan. 2014. 
  4. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Bruce Livesay (29 May 2013). "Rebecca MacDonald’s Just Energy: Golden era over for gas marketer". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  6. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc. Announces Acquisition of a 15% Interest in ecobee Inc. and Re-Institutes Drip Program for September 30, 2012 Cash Dividend". 29 Aug. 2012. 
  7. ^ "National Home Services". Retrieved 11 Jan. 2014. 
  8. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc. Announces Agreement to Acquire Fulcrum Retail Holdings LLC". Reuters. 25 Aug. 2011. 
  9. ^ Alina Tugend (15 Nov. 2013). "Sizing Up the Better Business Bureau, and Its Rivals on the Internet". 
  10. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  11. ^ John Spears (21 Jun. 2003). "Energy marketers fined over forgeries". Toronto Star. 
  12. ^ "Attorney General Cuomo Stops Wny Natural Gas Provider From Deceiving Consumers By Misrepresenting Service Contracts". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  13. ^ "The $1 Million U.S. Energy Settlement". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  14. ^ Richard Liebrecht (24 Feb. 2010). "Fraud alleged in energy contracts". Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 
  15. ^ "Energy salespeople charged with faking contracts". 24 Feb. 2010. Retrieved 14 Jan. 2014. 

External links[edit]