One would expect the administrator of Wisconsin’s largest school district to do his homework and, when needed, draw upon the knowledge of a professional to successfully manage the district’s energy budget. Lakeland Union School District Administrator, Todd Kleinhans, does exactly that.
“The key to successful energy budgeting is the amount of time you put into learning the market and collaborating with your energy account executive,” Kleinhans said. While it sounds simple, this basic approach has worked well for Lakeland.
Since 2002, Kleinhans and his predecessors have worked with CenterPoint Energy Services (CES) to ensure that Lakeland is doing everything possible to get the best natural gas price, at a cost that fits within the limits of increasingly constrained school budgets.
|"The most effective strategy for Lakeland has been to have well-defined, accurate energy cost figures for the annual budget. What's been successful for us is that we do the homework on our end, get advice from CES, and then we are able to make an informed [energy purchasing] decision." |
Accurate price forecast, historical data help set annual school budget
“The most effective strategy for Lakeland has been to have well-defined, accurate energy cost figures for the annual budget,” Kleinhans said. To make that possible, Kleinhans does his homework to help ensure he has those numbers, regularly monitoring the market with help from CES. Kleinhans said, “What’s been successful for us is that we do the homework on our end, get advice from CES, and then we are able to make an informed decision.
“I try to learn what causes spikes in natural gas price,” Kleinhans explained. “If I see trends that look favorable in the market, I work with CES to establish trigger points at highs and lows. We talk and consult.”
To forecast Lakeland’s energy needs, Kleinhans starts the annual budgeting process using historical trends and the school district’s energy use data that CES provides. Armed with these facts, Kleinhans says, “It becomes a matter of executing a deal to lock in the right amount of volume, at the right price and at the right time.
“I can guarantee that we get a call from CES the minute our price trigger is hit,” he noted. “That makes me confident that with CES, we’re going to get the right price. The level of customer service is second to none."
Several times throughout the year, Lakeland locks a portion of its gas needs at a favorable market price, giving the district a definitive cost for its budget – no surprises or budget uncertainty. And, Kleinhans added, “Getting good results for the district’s energy budget always pleases the school board.”
To make the grade, it pays to do your homework.