Frank Eakin and Electricity Club plan to help The Woodlands go green
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- “I think The Woodlands can be the Silicon Valley of green energy and climate change solutions.”
That is a strong statement from Frank Eakin, CEO of Electricity Club and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame member. But with a resume like Eakin’s, he has a history of meeting challenges.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Eakin has had continued success in divergent fields, from shipbuilding to publishing to digital marketing of electricity. Eakin came to Texas in the early ’90s when he acquired a small barge operation on the Houston Ship Channel. After building the business into the fourth-largest commercial shipyard company in the nation, for which he earned the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, Eakin founded a movie tie-in book/audiobook publishing company in 2003. Eakin added to his accomplishments by producing a commercially successful internationally-distributed movie, “The Bracelet of Bordeaux,” which was the first feature film shot in The Woodlands. For the book “Come to the Garden,” he produced a 3D film event shown in over 400 theatres and the audiobook narrated by TV host Kathie Lee Gifford, which was launched on the Today Show.
By far, the biggest success to date for Eakin Films and Publishing has been their official book and audiobook for the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, “12 Years A Slave.” The opportunity to be a part of this monumental project came about because of Sue Eakin, Frank’s mother, who re-discovered and validated the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free black man, who was lured from his home in New York and kidnapped into slavery in Louisiana. Those memoirs were adapted to create the award-winning film, giving Eakin direct involvement in the project.
Eakin worked with Brad Pitt’s production company and Fox Searchlight in the marketing of the book and movie, and his audiobook was narrated by Academy Award-winning actor, Louis Gossett Jr. Eakin and Gossett have remained good friends since 2013, and Gossett is one of Eakin’s primary endorsers for his residential energy company, Electricity Club.
Launched in 2011, Electricity Club is the “leading digital marketer of retail energy,” said Eakin. At a time when most electricity providers were focused solely on door-to-door sales, TV and billboard ads, and the naming rights to arenas, Electricity Club dove deep into the digital marketing of home energy and developed unique capabilities that Eakin learned from working with the movie studios and the team at Amazon and Audible who manages the retailing of his audiobooks. Electricity Club was the first to develop a network of content sites and star-endorsed electricity rate campaign sites, supported by automated email campaigns, search engine marketing, and media influencers.
Home Energy Club, Electricity Club’s new comparison platform, offers electricity to homeowners in Texas and other deregulated states in the midwest and northeast. Home Energy Club’s biggest differentiators include offering residents the lowest energy rates from the largest energy providers using its bargaining power and providing customers with vetted energy plans that are gimmick-free and can be trusted, in order to avoid surprises when the monthly bill shows up.
“There’s a lack of trust in the electricity market,” said Eakin. “Customers are afraid of getting burned by gimmick plans. They hook you in with fancy names to make you think you’re getting something for free.”
Home Energy Club is useful to consumers because the site “looks under the hood” of each plan to decide which energy plans are legitimate.
“Users can trust the plans on our site,” said Eakin. “We use a system we call TrustPlan to decide which plans will display on our site. The plans are from the same big providers you see advertised, but by going through our site, in most cases, the rates are less than if you go directly to the provider sites.”
The Home Energy Club site provides both fossil-sourced and green energy plans, but with climate change becoming a growing threat to the planet, the availability of low-cost green energy is needed more than ever. This is Eakin’s current focus.
Eakin believes that based on Electricity Club’s eight years of data, mass adoption of green energy to drive down CO2 will only occur when green energy plans are sold at the same or lower price than fossil plans. He plans to launch the first-ever green energy “price parity” platform on January 1.
“When we started in 2011, there was about a 30-40 percent price premium for green energy and less than 10 percent of customers were buyers. Today, the premium is much less, but still only a relatively small number of homeowners buy green plans,” said Eakin. “So what we’ve developed is a platform where we’re bringing in a large percentage of the major electricity companies to appear on our platform and sell green energy plans for less than fossil plans.”
Eakin believes the platform will have a significant positive impact over the next decade. “By creating mass adoption of green energy, generators will be incentivized to build more green capacity, which will result in large increases of renewable energy entering the electric grid, displacing fossil energy. And the economics work because we will offset upward pressures on green pricing with lower marketing costs due to our digital capabilities. The end result will be an exponential reduction in CO2 over time.” Eakin added, “Our concept can be executed now because its a market-driven solution to climate change, not dependent on government or new technology or additional infrastructure.”
Due to the critical mass of industry players located in and around The Woodlands whom the company is working with, Eakin says that Electricity Club can disrupt the digital market and become the Amazon of green energy. “We plan to put The Woodlands on the map as the center of green energy and climate change solutions,” said Eakin.
Along with big names in the energy industry, Eakin is planning to promote his green energy platform with big names from sports and entertainment. Louis Gossett Jr., as a clean energy advocate, will continue to be one of Eakin’s influencers, but the list will also include influencers based out of the Woodlands, such as PGA Tour and Olympic Coach, Kevin Kirk. Eakin will announce the names of top national and international figures in music, film, sports, and science who will be involved in the project, later this year.
Eakin knows his launch of the green platform and national PR campaign will take a lot of work, but he is confident that due to the passion that his digital team members and star relationships have for safeguarding the planet, they will succeed in helping to address an important part of perhaps the greatest challenge of our time.