Viridian Energy Review

Viridian Energy is a new company, founded in 2009, who offers a variable electric rate to customers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

Viridian Energy only offers a variable rate which can be dangerous if you are a customer.  There is really no limit to how high a variable electric rate can go up in any given month, and history shows that eventually the rates will increase drastically.  The main reason for this is the huge dependency that Viridian places on the wholesale market.  When the market behaves, Viridian can offer a rate that is slightly lower that the utility default rates, however when the market spikes they will be forced to pass on the extra costs to their customers.  I recommend finding a fixed electric rate that will lock in a rate for a set period of time.

Viridian Energy markets through “Direct Selling” or multi-level marketing.  They attract independent associates, who are often not well informed on energy prices and markets, to sell Viridian electric rates to their friends and family in hopes that it will cause these customers to stay loyal to them long term.

Viridian’s rates are not attractive.  Lower electric rates, both variable and fixed, can be found by comparing other electric companies’ offers to Viridian’s offers.

Besides the lower rates offered by these other companies, the important thing to note is that these offers are fixed.  Viridian’s offers are variable and can go even higher at any time.  Viridian advertises that they have “no contracts”, but when it comes to buying electricity, it is good to have a contract as it will state the exact rate you will pay assuming that the contract is for a fixed rate.  Without a contract you are truly at the mercy of the electric company.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Giovannielli October 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I am a Viridian customer and I saved some money on my first bill versus the utility. I thought that was pretty good. We just had one of the hottest summers on record and the rates did spike but Viridian was still able to remain under the utility. I noticed some of the other companies were offering fixed rates and the rate decreased in the second year. That tells me that they anticipate the rates coming down. If I am in a fixed rate and the rates do drop below my fixed rate I feel as though Viridian offers me a better chance to remain under the utility rate simply because it is variable. I’m no expert, would you say that is a naive view.

Pennsylvania Tim October 5, 2010 at 8:43 am

What’s even worse is that they do not disclose their adder.

ElectricityWatch Team October 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

Rob,

I’m glad to hear that you are participating in electricity competition.

To follow up with your comments: I really have no idea how Viridian will adjust their rates in any situation.

However, from experience, I’ve seen that electricity companies who offer floating month-to-month rates, like Viridian, will wait to lower their rates, when the market allows, until they start loosing a significant amount of customers. It is more of a smart business decision than anything else:

If a company has 100 customers content with paying 9 cents, why lower the rate to 8.5 cents instead of keeping it at 9 cents and make extra profit? Let’s say that the company is making $10 profit from each customer when the rate is 9 cents for a total of $1000 profit (100 customers x $10). Now lets say that the company can lower the rate to 8.5 cents and continue to make $10 profit per customer, but instead they decide to keep it at 9 cents and now make $15 in profit per customer. In this scenario, the company could lose 32% of their customers (keeping 67 of the original 100) and still make more profit by keeping the rate at 9 as opposed to lowering the rate to 8.5 and keeping all 100 customers.

So the chances of them lowering the rate significantly are low, however if the market causes rates to increase, they will have to raise rates in order to stay in business.

This is why I recommend signing a fixed electric rate.

Dave October 21, 2010 at 10:01 am

I believe Rob was actually correct in his assumption. The rates could and very well could go down, and if you’re in a contract – you lose. With variable rates, you ALWAYS have a choice.

ElectricityWatch Team October 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Rob and Dave,

Your arguments are not solid and in my opinion you guys are more than just customers of Viridian. You keep pointing out that the rates could go down, but they also could go up. Is that not a fair statement? You don’t lose by locking in a rate that guarantees you savings.

Furthermore, current fixed rates are lower than Viridan variable rates in all markets that they are in. So this isn’t a case of low variable versus high fixed rates like we are used to seeing in the mortgage market. This is a case of high variable rates versus low fixed rates….and your argument is “well, the high variable rates could possibly get lower than the already lower fixed rate in the future. And if you choose a low fixed rate today and start saving money, you might miss out on even more savings in the future. And if rates go up, well, lets not discuss that”.

I guess we will agree to disagree and let people choose on their own which path to take. But in my opinion you guys are either underestimating the intelligence of the common consumer who is willing to do online research on this subject, or you yourselves haven’t fully thought out what you are writing.

Anthony October 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

Now think of it this way, in every company you must have a good management team and/or leaders to run the company to be successful and profitable. Yes, the rate of Viridian can go above utility but if you look at Viridians history track record that has not happened in a whole year, they have always been below utility rate. That would be bad management if that happens. But from what I know about Viridian, the management teams are very experienced in this industry and know how to run a successful business. But you’re not looking at what Viridian is all about. Viridian is the only company that offers 20% to 100% green energy. Viridian provides greener energy at an affordable price. They take a lower profit in order to deliver a higher quality product.

Jim October 29, 2010 at 11:26 am

anthony

The statement.. Viridian is the only company that offers 20% to 100% green energy. is absolutely false. I am a customer of Pepco
in Maryland and I pay WGES a very competitive rate for 100% wind energy. Viridian is not the the only broker/dealer who markets wind energy at least in Maryland.

ElectricityWatch Team November 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

There are some fair statements in Anthony’s post, but it doesn’t change the fact that Viridian’s price structure has no limitations as to how high the rate can go.

One year is a small sample to work with. At the wholesale level, electricity prices have been on a downward trend during 2010. Eventually those rates will increase, and when that happens we will see how the Viridian rates react. The point remains, on a fixed rate contract the consumer does not have to worry about market fluctuations during the term of the contract. Variable rates will put you at risk.

Joe Ragan November 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm

ElectricityWatch Team you are on the money both Anthony, Rob and Dave are to passionate about their Home service. The average person would not get into all that, most people dont even know who ther ESCO is let alone the rate history. I have ran into Viridian sales reps in and around Philadelphia for the most part they have little or no knowledge on the bigger picture only what they are told like most brokers. They do have one of the best web marketing programs I have ever seen. lipstick on a pig still makes it a pig
Joe Ragan (Ragan Energy) Philadelphia, PA

G.A.H. November 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I was just approached by a Viridian Rep that promised a lot of savings. The rep also happens to be a friend of mine. I’m sure glad that I am one of the consumers that does the home work before jumping into another persons passions. I’m going with the fixed and safe rate w/o gimicks.

Cheryl Lykes January 25, 2011 at 9:11 am

Thank you Electricity Watch Team, great work, and accurate comments. I advise consumers for a living on electric suppliers, distributors and have alot of knowledge regarding contracts/fixed rates. One thing I advise consumers is to watch out for variable rates because when the market rates spike their cost will be affected, good ol’ supply and demand. Someone approached me regarding Viridian service and kept stressing “no contract” which immediately sent flags up for me. I’d rather be locked into a rate for 12 months instead of chancing this…looking forward to SMART meters, then maybe we all can be happy and eventually have no one else to blame but ourselves regarding consumption habits. Thanks again!

Superman23 February 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

Anyone know what the Viridian rates for existing customers have been the last few months? I was told that existing customers paid a higher rate than the introductory rates listed on their site. I’m considering joing as an associate, but am trying to understand more about their pricing structure.

Jorge February 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I signed up with Viridian as a customer a year ago and I do not regret a single piece of it. The associate explained to me thoroughly that I had a choice to choose my energy supplier in New Jersey because of deregulation. Also, Viridian has no cancellation fees, no sign up fees, and offers a variable rate. He also explain that there is a contract, but no commitment to the contract.

Electricity Watch Team says that it is dangerous or not safe to sign up for a variable rate because you can not get a guaranteed low fixed rate like with another company. Viridian historically has had lower rates than the local utility and I have saved money. If a person were to be on a fixed rate plan, they would have not saved money. A person on a fixed rate plan could save money when electricity prices rises, but what about when it is low. The utility company makes a lot of money when it is low and the customer is foolishing thinking there okay and saving money because they are in their safe fixed rate plan. Check out the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities website which is the board that regulates the energy industry in New Jersey. Here is the link http://www.state.nj.us/bpu/commercial/shopping.html. It explains variable rates and fixed rates. Lastly,Viridian also offers green energy at a minimum of 20% or 100%

ElectricityWatch Team February 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Jorge,

When we talk about fixed electric rates, we are talking about competitive fixed rates and not the utility default rates; electricity rates found in the competitive marketplace offered by alternative electricity suppliers.

This site is an advocate for electricity deregulation and competition. Right now in New Jersey there are many competitive suppliers offering lower rates than the utility default rates. The point is not that money can’t be saved versus the utility by going with Viridian. The point is that locking in a low fixed rate allows you to save more and provides price protection as opposed to a variable rate that provides no price protection.

Lets take a look at current rates in New Jersey as of today:

PSEG (default rate estimated at $0.1225)
Viridian Variable – $0.125
Gateway Fixed Rate – $0.1090

JCPL (default rate estiamted at $0.1261
Viridian Variable – $0.1205
Gatewat Fixed Rate – $0.1134

Rockland Electric (default rate estimated at $0.1215)
Viridian Variable – $0.1250
Gateway Fixed Rate – $0.0970

Atlantic City Electric (default rate estimated at $0.1315)
Viridian Variable – $0.1106
Gateway Fixed Rate – $0.1110

As you can see, with the exception of Atlantic City Electric, the fixed competitive rates are significantly lower than Viridian’s variable rate.

Even in Atlantic City Electric area, in my opinion it makes more sense to lock in the fixed rate that is four tenths of a penny more than the variable rate because of the price protection that the fixed rate provides.

The fact remains, variable rates have no limit to how high they can go. If the variable rates were much lower than the fixed rates being offered you might have a difficult decision to make. However, as I have shown, the fixed rates available are generally much lower than the risky variable rates.

I have no problem with people trying to start a business and sell a product, but this website is designed to educate people about electricity choices and rates, and that is what we will continue to do.

Fixed Rate Question April 10, 2011 at 12:57 am

Re: fixed rate contracts, how long are the contracts for? What happens when the contract expires? Does it get renewed with a new fixed rate?

ElectricityWatch Team April 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

It depends on the electricity company, but it will clearly state it in the contract. Usually, if you do not sign a new contract when your current one ends, you will be placed on a month to month variable rate with the company you chose until you sign a fixed rate with them or another supplier.

One thing you do not have to worry about is your power going out just because your contract ends. This is guaranteed by your state’s public utility commission. You will either go on some type of default service rate with the competitive supplier, or go straight back to the utility default service until you sign another electric agreement. There will be no interruption of service.

David Alexander April 21, 2011 at 7:54 am

I have read the exchange here with a lot of interest. Just so you know my background a bit, I am someone who is trying to help the environment in general in a variety of ways; also, I met with a Viridian sales rep yesterday, and am evaluating their offers (both for power, and for working with them) with interest but also an analytic mind.

Now, above I detect that the site’s author seems somewhat suspicious of Viridian as being misleading. I don’t think there is evidence of that. They may be steering a pricing strategy that is not the lowest, nor the highest. Because they are focused on also providing green energy, to many people that is a major benefit. On the other hand, the warning that some customers will not be able to or interested in tracking prices month by month, is valid.

So, my sense is that Viridian is legitimate, but is not the choice that everyone may want to make. It fits into my values, because I would like to save a bit of money while also supporting renewable energy. Having studied environmental issues (including but not limited to climate change) as an educated layman since 2006, my belief and understanding is that it is critical for the world to move to renewable energy sources, and I want to support that direction. Energy is one of the largest single creators of greenhouse gases, and use of nuclear energy and coal have obvious drawbacks — even without the need for an earthquake to point them out to us.

ElectricityWatch Team May 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

David,

We are not “suspicious of Viridian”. The article just presents facts; one of the biggest ones being that Viridian can charge their customers whatever they want in any given month. I am pretty sure no one would buy or lease a car with these terms in the contract, or purchase a cell phone plan that could double from one month to the next, or agree to a mortgage where rates constantly changed (well unfortunately that last one has happened quite a bit ;)

The points you make concerning green energy are obviously Viridian’s marketing angle, as are the angle of many suppliers. Unfortunately numerous studies have shown that purchasing wind power does not have a positive effect at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Check out this article about they myths of Wind Power

In addition, there are numerous suppliers selling renewable energy. For example, in New Jersey it is state law that every supplier offering electricity has to have 15% of their power come from renewable energy. This doesn’t change my opinion that wind power is an over hyped technology that is not preventing carbon dioxide emission, but for those who sleep better at night buying wind power, you can still do it with a lower fixed rate compared to the high variable Viridian rate.

lisa May 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I am confused. If the rates were to go up as a Veridian customer wouldnt you just change to another company??

ElectricityWatch Team May 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Let me clear up that confusion.

Lets say a price spike happens in the market and Viridian is forced to raise their rates by 25%. Not because they are bad people, but because the wholesale market went up and they either have to pass on the higher rates to their customers or take huge losses that can result in bankruptcy.

So you get your high bill and you’re outraged. You call up to cancel your service. However your service can not be cancelled right away, and you will be stuck paying Viridian’s rate at least one more month, and possibly two. Switches occur on meter read cycle dates, and state utility commissions require that switch requests be placed at least two weeks prior to the read date. So if your cycle read is on the 5th of the month, you probably won’t receive your invoice until around the 22nd. At best you will be able to put in the request for the next meter read date, but you will still have to pay Viridian for that month of service.

But more important than all of that, and the point that the Viridian supporters just can’t seem to grasp…..Since this article has been published, fixed competitive rates have been LOWER than Viridian’s variable rate in every market that they offer service. So besides the high risk associated with their product, their rate is higher than competing rates to begin with.

Ted July 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

ElectricityWatch Team, I am a Viridian Associate. HOWEVER, I am also a commodities brooker of gold and silver. As such I understand when someone locks in a price of a commodity what it usually entails. Let me explain.

When someone locks, at a cheaper rate, in electricity there are two good reasons. First let’s assume that they are out to make money. The first reason would be that they lock it in at a cheaper rate is that they have a source of electricity that is cheaper than anybody else’s. This is probably not the case as they are brookers of electricty and not owners of power plants thus they would not be able to get their hands on cheaper electricty for any real length of time. The second reason, and the much more probable one, is that they believe with a reasonable degree of certitude that electricity will go down to more than what they locked it in at. In order to make their money the market must go down to a lower level than what they sold it to you for, because if not then they will have to pay the difference when the contract(short) comes due. Since I know when I short gold or silver that I am reasonably sure(70% or greater) that they will go down otherwise I will lose money. Otherwise what I would do, is either hang on to my holdings, or since I would be trying to convince people that it will continue to go up lock in at the markert or higher rate. That way when the contract comes due I’m not the one left with holding the bag.

Overall, I am glad that there are blogs and sites out there like yours that seek to give the otherside of opinion on things. However, I believe as a truly unbiased site would do is to take the time to show the advantages and disadvantages of both ways of doing, and then recommened what they would do. Merely stating one side is not the way to inform people. Thank you for your time

P.S. Sorry about the spelling and grammar issues, it’s why I didn’t become a writer.

Tony July 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

With Illinois opening up to deregulation, are there going to be providers that offer a fixed rate besides ComEd?

ElectricityWatch Team July 21, 2011 at 7:54 am

Yes, there are some suppliers already offering fixed rates in ComEd and you can expect more to enter the market in the coming months.

ElectricityWatch Team July 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

Ted,
While I appreciate your comment, I have no idea what point you are trying to make and I think you are confused on how the retail electricity market works.

Here is the point that I have made with my article:
1. Competitive (not default) fixed rates are lower than Viridian variable rates.
2. There is no limit to how high a Viridian rate can go

It seems that through Viridian training, Viridian Associates have been convinced that their intro variable rates will only get lower with time.

With that said, lets try to find out. Can Viridian customers please comment on the following:
1. Current Viridian Rate
2. State and Utility they are in
3. Number of Months they have been a Viridian Customer

Let’s find out!

peter kenney July 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Something about Viridian just does not feel right. Large players in the competitive (de-regulated states) wholeslale electric market should always be able to compete favorably with Viridian because they commit to fixed prices at their end over a known period of time. This could be a one-month variable rate for purposes of offering a gap-filler or bridge rate to a customer until they feel a longer term contract is viable. The more skillful and honest energy brokers keep track of the wholesale energy market as often as every fifteen minutes and structure their contracts to suit individual customers. Not so with Viridian. They buy electricity (and natural gas in some states) pretty much on a spot basis. There is no particular skill in their operation beyond attracting new “members” and collecting fees. In Massachusetts, my state, Viridian was recruiting up a storm and signing up new members by the truckload only to announce that they had been unable to reach agreement with the state’s Department of Public Utilities on some of the stickier points of cost allocations and charges. Their original claims when starting their recruiting blitz in Massachusetts was that they were fully approved to do business in Massachusetts only to admit, finally, that they would not be able to operate in Massachusetts for perhaps as long as another eighteen months. A lot of peiople joined the Viridian scheme and sold their hearts out only to have to reneg on their ill-advised promises. And, at least in Massachusetts, anyone directly engaged in making claims about energy costs and purchase plans to the public must be licensed by the state as an energy broker, not merely someone who thinks he/she has found the golden goose. Viridian’s core management may be honest or not…who can say at this point…but they are at least very enterprising and aggressive. Also, they seem to have a peculiar view of how unregulated energy markets actually work. The only way to prove or disprove the Viridian legend will be in the experience they record over time; how many saved how much?

Kaine July 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm

According to my numbers your estimate of price comparison is off. Not only that, you work for gateway. Somehow we are supposed to believe biased opinion? With all that aside, Viridian can charge whatever they want, so yes they have to wait a month or 2, but with Gateway, you can’t leave till the 5 months is up. You try to leave, they’ll fine you. You average the cost of Viridian over a year, and guess what it’s basically identical to gateway. I personally wouldn’t mind joining either one, but I don’t like being locked into anything. I am a Viridian Customer for the last 10 months in NJ, originally PSE&G, and my bill has NEVER even been close to your estimated $0.125. It averages out to about $0.112 and YOUR Gateway site’s rate isn’t even near your claimed $0.109. As of right now your site’s rate for me would be $0.113 for the next 5 months, which is basically exactly the same as what I’m paying now. One way or another, you keep repeating Gateway is fixed AND it’s cheaper than Viridian’s variable, from my bills they’re basically identical. In my opinion anything other than default is good, but seriously where did you get that $0.125? I’d think Viridian would go out of business if they charged more than default.
Also, what happens to your company when the market goes up 25%? You can’t charge your customer’s cuz it’s fixed rate, I get that but money doesn’t just grow out of the ground to compensate for that

Bob LBI August 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Veridian customer here for just over a year.. and they have been consistently about 20+% below Atalntic City Electric.. my June bill they jumped up to 12.5c and the July bill to 13.5c…I don’t know what the std AC electric rate is currently..

ElectricityWatch Team August 3, 2011 at 8:07 pm

In response to Kaine…

1. We don’t work for Gateway. When the 10.9 rate was posted Gateway was offering that rate. Had you locked in that rate then you would have paid 10.9 instead of 11.2, which isn’t a big difference, but you wouldn’t have to worry about that 10.9 changing until the contract ended. The Viridian rate can explode at any time. By the way, the current Gateway rate is 10.99, if you click through you will see all the options.

2. In response to “…..but seriously where did you get that $0.125″. I seriously got it from the Viridian website, and I just checked it now and they are still advertising $0.125. Take a closer look at your bill, you will probably find another charge there (transmission, capacity) that makes the rate $0.125. Not that $0.112 is low, because it isn’t.

3. The current lowest rate that I have found in PSEG is 9.8. Its not with Gateway. Check out the “electricity prices” section on this site and you will find it. It is with a company called MX Energy.

4. In response to this comment – “Also, what happens to your company when the market goes up 25%? You can’t charge your customer’s cuz it’s fixed rate, I get that but money doesn’t just grow out of the ground to compensate for that“. The fixed rate is able to be fixed because the electric supplier is buying the power in advance through future contracts. They then sell it back to the customer through the monthly electric bill. The point you make here is the exact point I have made over and over again why variable rates are bad. The variable rate is riding the market, so when the market goes up 25% variable rate payers will be forced to pay it, not fixed rate payers.

5. “I think Viridian would go out of Business if they charged more than default”…..current default PSEG customer using 1,000 KWh pays $0.117. Viridian customer will bay $0.125 according to their website.

ElectricityWatch Team August 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm

In response to Bob LBI…

How do you know that you’ve been saving 20% when you do not know the AC electric rate?

Let me educate you…..the current residential price to compare for Atlantic City Electric customers since June 1, 2011 is 10.37 (http://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/home/choice/nj/compare/). I guess that 12.5 and 13.5 doesn’t look so good after all.

Eileen LBI September 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm

To Bob LBI:

ACE rate was about 10.5 this summer, MUCH lower than veridian at 13.5. This made for a $4o increase in our July bill. We co-own a house with a relative who is a veridian rep, and therefore he is making a monthly commission off every account he signed up. We are having a hard time convincing him that veridian is going to cost us more in the long run.

Marco October 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm

LMAO thank you ElectricityWatch team, I couldn’t stop reading this very informative discussion.
I guess all the Viridian lovers (sales agents) who would sell this overprice energy to their families and friend for a few dollars Are not able to respond to the facts and numbers around here…

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