SYRACUSE — BlueRock Energy, Inc. of Syracuse on July 1 announced an agreement with the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League to become the team’s “official” electricity provider.
The deal, which took effect a month earlier, is a “multi-year contract,” says Philip Van Horne, president and CEO of BlueRock Energy.
He declined to provide any additional terms of the agreement, but said it’s “significant” for both the team and his company.
BlueRock Energy is headquartered in a 6,700-square-foot space between two floors in The Foundry at 432 N. Franklin St. in Syracuse.
The Bills use plenty of electricity on items that include stadium lights, parking-lot lights, refrigeration, its offices, and practice fieldhouse in Orchard Park, south of Buffalo, Van Horne says.
“Their electricity expenses are a significant item, and the sponsorship items are a significant number for us,” he says.
The Bills made the initial contact with BlueRock about the possibility of becoming the team’s electricity supplier.
“They put some feelers out to people in the energy industry asking who a good partner would be and several others in our industry recommended Blue Rock to them,” Van Horne says. “[It] makes me feel very good.”
The discussions began last October.
The partnership also includes a number of marketing and sponsorship opportunities, Van Horne says.
“We wanted to make sure that we had the right package, both for what they needed and for what we wanted,” Van Horne says.
BlueRock Energy is sponsoring the Bills’ training camp in Pittsford, which involves company banners and a kiosk for distributing marketing materials.
BlueRock is also the “Game Week” sponsor the Bills’ season opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium against the vaunted New England Patriots on Sept. 8.
It is also the first regular-season game for new Bills head coach Doug Marrone, the former head football coach at Syracuse University for four seasons.
“The tickets for that opening day have Coach Marrone’s picture on them next to the BlueRock logo,” Van Horne says.
Inside Ralph Wilson Stadium, BlueRock Energy will have a presence on the facility’s ribbon board that circles the stadium’s interior. When the opponent is facing a third-down situation, a fan-energy meter, called the BlueRock Energy Fan Energy Meter will encourage Bills fans to generate noise, he says.
Following each game, Bills fans will have the chance to vote on Facebook for the “BlueRock Energy Player of the Game.” The team will announce who earns the distinction on its Facebook and Twitter pages on a weekly basis, according to Van Horne.
The company’s agreement with the Bills will provide plenty of exposure for the BlueRock Energy brand, Van Horne says.
“This is obviously the largest marketing activity of any of the other things we’ve done,” he adds.
BlueRock Energy, which supplies both electricity and natural gas to residential and commercial customers, uses a “consultive” approach when dealing with potential energy customers, Van Horne says.
The firm meets with the customer and determines the client’s energy needs, goals, and budget, and then crafts a custom package to provide the electricity or natural gas.
All providers in New York purchase their electricity through the Albany–based Independent System Operator (NY ISO), which oversees the state’s power grid and is the market clearinghouse for all the electricity that providers buy and sell in the state, Van Horne says.
BlueRock is among about 50 electric-supply companies that are approved to conduct business in New York, Van Horne says.
National Grid serves as the delivery company, he adds.
“They own the wires, they own the gas pipes, and so, for all the supply companies, all the energy retailers, we all supply to the customer through National Grid,” he says.
If a customer, residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, doesn’t choose a supplier, the default is back to National Grid, he adds.
BlueRock competes with companies that include Hess Energy, Van Horne says. Hess Energy, part of the New York City–based Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES), operates an office in Syracuse.
Blue Rock employs 38 people, and all but two serve on a full-time basis, Van Horne says. Blue Rock also works with three contract employees.
Van Horne would like to hire between two and five new full-time employees before the end of the year, he says.
Blue Rock Energy leases its work space from 432 North Franklin Street Properties, LLC.
Van Horne declined to disclose the firm’s revenue figure for the latest fiscal year, which ended on June 30, but he says growth has been “very strong” each year of operation since the company’s start in 2003.
He is projecting 30 percent revenue growth for the new fiscal year that just started.
Van Horne is among 21 total shareholders who own BlueRock Energy. He holds the largest amount of shares but declined to disclose his ownership percentage.
BlueRock Energy serves about 14,000 customers in New York, with the exception of Long Island, he says.
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