Energy Terms

Common Terms

Energy Terms

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AGS: Alternative Gas Supplier – An approved, Non-utility supplier of natural gas.

ARES: Alternative Retail Electric Supplier – An approved, Non-utility supplier of electricity.

Ampere: Amp – Unit of measurement for electric current.


Baseload: Minimum amount of power needed to meet demand.

Broker: Sells energy to residential and commercial customers and are usually affiliated with ARES and AGS companies.

BTU: British Thermal Unit – Standard measurement of the heat of a fuel source.


Capacity: Maximum amount of power that a system can create or transfer at a specific time.

Capacity Charge: Additional charge on a monthly bill to cover the difference between peak and normal energy usage.

Circuit: Conductor system for electrical current.

Contract Price: Quarterly, monthly, or yearly terms of an agreed upon price between seller and buyer.

CUB: Citizens Utility Board


Day-Ahead Market: Energy market for one day ahead of the present.

Day-Ahead Schedule: 24-hour advanced scheduling of your energy needs.

Delivery: The physical delivery of electricity of energy to your home or business.

Demand: The rate of electricity delivery (measured in Kilowatts or megawatts) over a specified period of time.

Direct Access: Retail customer’s ability to purchase energy at wholesale without using a utility company.

Distribution: The transport of energy to final destination.


Energy Efficiency: The effective use of energy resulting in minimal waste.


Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC): Federal commission responsible for deregulation of energy utilities.

Firm Gas: Agreed upon amount of natural gas that must be delivered and accepted.

Firm Power: Guaranteed, pre-determined amount of energy available during a specific timeframe.

Fixed Rate: A price that is locked for the term of and agreement.

Forced Outage: Unexpected power loss due to a result of generation or transmission failure.

Future Market: Buying and selling of the future production of commodities to defend against price increases.


Generation: Production of energy.

Generator: Energy producer.

Gigawatt: The equivalent of 1000 megawatts.


Hedging Contracts: The locking in of current energy rates or slightly higher ones over the term of a contract to protect against price increases that may result from market volatility.


ICAP: Installed Capacity – Energy generation capacity of a system.

Independent Power Producers: Energy production companies that are not public utilities.

Index Rate: A rate that changes with the current market.


Kilowatt (kW): Electrical measurement commonly used to identify the electrical consumption of a device.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh): Common measurement of usage of 1000 watts of power over an hour period.


Load (Electric): Electricity required for an area for a specific time period.


Market Based Pricing: Agreed upon prices between a buyer and seller that reflects current market conditions and the energy spot market.

Market Clearing Price: the highest price that can be expected if all supply is sold and all demands are met.

Maximum Demand: Highest average power value taken from averaged, successive time periods.

Megawatt (MW: A measurement equal to one million watts.

Megawatt-hour (MWh): Measurement of power usage reserved for large commercial customers.


Non-Firm Power: Purchase of energy available that is not required by the customers who arranged its production.


Off-Peak Gas: Natural gas that is obtained when demand is not at its greatest.

Open Access: Utilities with transmission lines that are open for the receipt of energy from other suppliers.

Outage: Service interruption in which power is prevented from being delivered.


Peak Demand: Maximum power amount that is required to provide service to all customers on a particular system.

Peak Capacity: Power generation capacity for peak supply needs.

Power Exchange: Market in which energy producers buy and sell energy.


Reliability: The dependability of a energy producer to meet supply needs with high quality transmission services.

Renewable Resources: Energy produced that is restored by natural processes. Example: Wind or Solar.

Reserve Margin: Energy made available beyond normal peak demand amounts.

Retail Wheeling: Consumer ability to obtain or a suppliers ability to transmit energy over another utilities lines.


Scheduled Outage: A scheduled interruption of energy production and delivery that is often associated with maintenance.

Spinning Reserve: 2-hour operational back-up energy that is available in ten minutes.

Spot Purchases: Quick and fair power transactions between energy producers and consumers for power requirements over short periods in the near future.


Therm: Natural Gas is usually measured by volume in the United States and is stated in cubic feet. A cubic foot of gas is the amount of gas needed to fill a volume of one cubic foot under set conditions of pressure and temperature.

Transmission: Energy delivery across a grids or power lines.


Usage: Energy consumption.


Variable Rate: Energy costs that fluctuate according to variable such as power generation, transport, delivery, etc.