Several trends are shaping the energy industry as the country heads into 2019. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that coal, as a share of the electricity fuel mix, has decreased to 29 percent. By contrast, gasoline has increased by 34 percent.
The solar industry has experienced strong growth. The EIA projects that small-scale solar to increase to 23,244 MW and utility-scale solar to increase to 42,173 MW by the end of 2019.
At the same time, the energy industry as a whole has experienced some difficult market conditions. Energy businesses are focused on cutting costs. All energy businesses have to install energy equipment regardless of their individual sectors. Energy credit cards and debit cards can help energy companies to make the installation process easier.
Headaches faced by installation technicians
Many energy installation technicians face common headaches as a part of their jobs. Installation technicians have to travel frequently from city to city to install equipment.
Installation technicians must also deal with the expenses that are associated with their work-related travel and must keep receipts. They must also log everything, including their times of arrival and departure, all of their expenses, and other information. Some of this information can be tracked more easily with an energy credit card rather than by using per diems or expense reimbursements.
What an energy installer’s job entails
Energy installation technicians must frequently travel from job site to job site. This means that they may frequently stay in hotels and find themselves living out of suitcases. For example, solar salespeople may be spread across each state, meaning that installers may find themselves driving to each new job site to complete the installations.
Energy installers are sometimes given a per diem, which is an amount of money that they are given to spend each day while they are traveling. This money is to be used for their travel-related costs. Others may be expected to spend their own money on their travel expenses and then to submit expense reports and receipts for reimbursements. Installers may be compensated for travel costs that are related to their jobs, but they cannot be compensated for expenses that are related to their commutes to and from their homes.
Travel requirements for installers who upgrade aging infrastructure
Energy installers whose work includes upgrading aging infrastructure have significant travel requirements that are similar to other types of energy installers. However, upgrades to the infrastructure may require these types of installers to remain near the job sites for weeks or months. This may lead them to have mounting hotel costs for the time that they have to spend at these locations.
According to Deloitte, the utility infrastructure in the U.S. is between 50 to 70 years old, and much of the utility infrastructure is based on designs from the early part of the 20th century. This is a huge problem within the energy sector, leading to a demand for upgrade installers.
Solutions to the pain points that energy installer technicians face
While energy installers have a number of different travel- and expense-related headaches, there are alternatives that can help to solve some of these issues such as energy debit cards.
Instead of asking your employees to pay for purchases out of their pockets, track all of their own expenses, save receipts, create expense reports, and wait for reimbursements, you can simply give them energy debit cards to use. These are cards that are linked to your own accounts, so your employees can spend your money instead of their own. You can restrict the types of purchases that can be made on each card, allowing you to better control the spending that occurs.
Traditional credit cards may cause headaches
Some energy businesses give credit cards to their installers. Installer credit cards can present issues for both businesses and employees. A credit card for installers will be able to be used up to your credit limit. By contrast, an energy business expense card may have limits set by the day and can be turned off when your employees are not working.
An energy business credit card may also be targeted by hackers and thieves. If your employee uses a credit card for technicians at a gas station that has a skimmer installed, money may be withdrawn from the card up to its credit limit. This can leave you with losses while also leaving your employee stranded.
How energy business debit cards might provide solutions
Energy business expense cards and energy business prepaid cards might help to solve some of the issues that energy companies face with energy credit cards. These types of cards let you restrict the types of purchases that can be made. If a thief steals the credit card number and tries to purchase something else, the purchase will be declined.
Debit cards for energy companies can also have spending limits that you can set by the interval of your choice. Unlike energy business credit cards, you can also turn the cards off or on from a dashboard, allowing you to turn individual cards off instantly if you see a problem. Finally, debit cards give you greater transparency. Unlike energy credit cards that may make you wait for your monthly statement to review the charges, you can see the spending that each employee has completed at any time by logging into your dashboard.
Features of a good energy business debit card
There are several features that you should look for in a good debit card for your energy company. There are several differences between business debit cards and energy credit cards, including the following:
- Energy business credit cards charge interest while debit cards do not;
- Credit card spending adds to your debt while debit card purchases simply spend the money that you already have;
- Credit cards require credit applications while debit cards do not; and
- Debit card spending can be limited while credit card spending is limited only by the credit limit on the card.
The best energy business prepaid cards and debit cards offer several important features. They offer expansive energy business expense management tools so that you can tightly control spending. You can set individual spending limits and restrict the cards to specific merchants and types of purchases. These cards will not allow your employees or external thieves to access the money in your accounts, and they cannot be used to withdraw cash at ATMs.
Energy storage technologies
Today, newer technologies and advancements in energy storage are allowing people to keep battery packs in their homes. These battery packs can help to improve the grid’s resiliency. To install these systems, more installers and technicians will be needed.
The installers who are tasked with installing these new technologies will need to use installer credit cards or debit cards to purchase needed supplies and to pay for their travel expenses. In addition to the microgrid, other types of technicians and installers in the energy industry can benefit from business debit cards, including the following:
- Solar energy installers
- Renewable energy installers
- Windtech and wind technicians
- PV installers
How the Bento for Business Visa debit cards work for energy businesses
Bento for Business offers Visa debit cards that can help energy companies of all sizes to get better control of their energy business expenses. Bento’s cards offer terrific expense control features so that you can control when the cards can be used, how they can be used, where they can be used, and how much can be spent.
Bento has earned great reviews and is a trusted brand in the energy space. The company offers a free 60-day trial. Companies can also request a demo so that they can see how the cards could work for them. To learn more, call 866.220.8455.