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Ill. company to create 75 full-time local jobs


By Colleen Sikorski



With its entire customer base located across the state line in Illinois, Chase Energy Corporation decided to headquarter its business in Bloomington, opening its doors in March at The Solution Lab, a collaborative workspace.

Senior Partner Marc Phelps said Chase Energy should create up to 75 full-time positions, mostly in marketing and customer care, by the end of 2015.

Chase Energy has no prospects to develop a customer base in Indiana as doing so is currently not an option under Indiana’s utility regulations.

The company sells electricity to consumers in deregulated markets — states where public utility companies don’t have a monopoly on providing electricity. Instead, customers can choose what kind of electricity they receive — for example, the cheapest or greenest electricity — and have it delivered to them on the electrical grid the public utility maintains.

Illinois began deregulating in 1997. Indiana has deregulated its natural gas market for customers in Northern Indiana, served by Northern Indiana Public Service Company, but has not deregulated its electricity market.

Marc Phelps, a senior partner with Chase Energy, said the ultimate goal is for Indiana to deregulate its electricity market, but he doesn’t see it happening anytime soon.
“There hasn’t been any real rumbling,” Phelps said.

States including Illinois, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and California deregulated their electricity markets in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Most of the states deregulating their electricity markets worked to keep loopholes out of the written laws deregulating the electricity market. However, California’s law allowed speculation, which caused part of Enron’s downfall in 2002, Phelps said.

“It’s scared legislators and governors ... because no one wants to be pegged politically with writing the bill that caused the next Enron,” Phelps said.

Despite the seeming lack of political will to deregulate in Indiana, the company’s founders chose to establish headquarters in Bloomington. The founders, most of whom are from Bloomington, considered moving the company to Illinois.

However, Phelps said they decided to stay based on business relationships, specifically citing Old National Bank and the Solution Lab. The close proximity to IU was also a factor, he said.

Bloomington Economic Development Corporation has also worked with Chase Energy. BEDC Project Manager Dana Palazzo pointed out the benefits of the company choosing to locate its headquarters here as opposed to near its Illinois customer base.

“Indiana is known as a more business-friendly state, and businesses will generally find operating costs and total tax burden to be more attractive than in Illinois,” Palazzo said.

Palazzo said Chase Energy’s situation is common. Many Bloomington-based companies sell their products or services outside Bloomington.

“They bring money from somewhere else, meaning new money enters into the Bloomington economy,” Palazzo said. “These new employees will likely spend and invest in the community, thereby supporting other businesses and employees.”

As for Chase Energy, the company has no plans to move anytime soon.

“Our ultimate hope is that Indiana will deregulate and that we’ll be able to sell (here),” Phelps said. “Hopefully, it (Chase Energy) ends up being good for this state as well in terms of employing some folks and bringing those people here.”

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