Liberty Power capitalizes on competitive electricity markets in other states.
While businesses in Florida aren’t able to shop for electric power, 20 other states allow it, and those markets have been lucrative for south Florida entrepreneurs David and Eliezer Hernandez and their partner, Alberto Daire. Since launching Fort Lauderdale-based Liberty Power in 2001 as an independent energy retailer — providing electricity over the same lines and from the same generating plants as the established utilities — the partners have grown annual sales to $120 million. Their firm was recently named the fastest-growing Hispanic business in the U.S. by Hispanic Business magazine. “I saw this as an opportunity to bring better prices and service to business customers,” says David Hernandez, Liberty Power’s CEO.
Liberty is licensed in 15 states and has 25,000 customers, including all Wal-Mart stores in New York and one in five New York City business customers who have switched from the traditional utility. The company built its early business in New York, Texas, Maryland and the District of Columbia and recently expanded to Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois. Next up are the eight additional states where Liberty Power is licensed.
In pitching its business, Liberty stresses its “budget certainty” — guaranteed prices for 12-, 24- or 36-month contracts. Liberty’s contracts guarantee that its fuel costs won’t be adjusted upward over the contract period, says Paul Ring, manager of regulatory affairs for Liberty Power.
Small businesses make up 70% of Liberty’s clientele. And although it doesn’t guarantee lower rates, vice president for communications and government affairs, Nelson Reyneri, says, “On the average, for the small-business consumer, we will save that consumer 5, 10 or 15%.”
“We’ve seen a dramatic change in what small businesses want to buy,” says Ring, who adds that businesses want good customer service and a guaranteed rate structure.