COSTARS members save on electricity costs

Danica Laub
September 09, 2021

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Members of COSTARS, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s cooperative purchasing program, are set to save big on electric utility costs following an electricity shopping event, recently hosted by the Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute (PSFEI).

While individuals and commonwealth agencies are not eligible for this program, nonprofit entities that spend public funds for procurement of goods and services can register for review and approval by the  Pennsylvania Department of General Services (PADGS) to become a COSTARS members. 

A total of 1,569 accounts were solicited using the PSFEI-created Energy Risk Management Application (ERMA). By comparing published utility company rates (known as the price to compare) to bids from prospective suppliers, PSFEI enabled COSTARS to lock in lower rates for 126 members, representing 1,510 accounts, for a total of more than $1.6 million in projected savings.

COSTARS members can expect to see the cost savings begin in the January 2022 billing cycle.

By participating in PSFEI’s electricity shopping events, COSTARS members have saved more than $4.5 million since January 2018. In addition to electricity shopping events, PSFEI’s energy team identified an extra $578,000 from incorrectly billed charges as part of the institute’s complimentary utility bill review service. 

COSTARS members who were incorrectly billed may be eligible for refunds, according to Scott Harford, PSFEI energy engineer. 

“Most utilities and suppliers do not perform complimentary bill review services,” Harford said. “PSFEI can provide information to assist in both the recovery and correction of billing errors to lower electric utility costs.”

PSFEI uses its proprietary ERMA software to assist the PADGS with soliciting, comparing and awarding electricity contracts in real-time. This allows PSFEI and PADGS personnel to receive and analyze bids and award the most cost-effective contract all within a few hours. The efficiency of the process empowers PSFEI clients to take advantage of buying opportunities in the energy market, providing an opportunity to save money.

PSFEI will host the next electric procurement event during the fall of 2021. For more information about COSTARS Electricity Procurement Services, visit

The Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute provides education programs, energy services, engineering services and facility condition assessments to Pennsylvania state agencies, the federal government and nonprofit organizations. The institute aims to advance its customers’ facilities engineering objectives through applied research, education and innovation.


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Last Updated September 10, 2021