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Site Lets Small Firms Hedge Fuel Costs (Updated)

Now buyers and sellers can use the platform via their smartphone or tablet. The company on Tuesday launched a mobile app version of its energy auction platform called Pricelock Mobile in what it calls the latest step in providing innovative technology solutions that improve the speed, efficiency and transparency of how energy is bought.

The free app has the ability to notify energy suppliers about relevant upcoming auctions and allows them to use their phones to track how bids are faring. It also allows buyers to watch auctions in real time from their mobile device so they don't have to be in their office or tied to a computer to watch firsthand how quickly prices move as suppliers compete, Pricelock says.

Pricelock's online tools calculates a fuel quote. If national fuel price averages rise above the owner's threshold during a policy's term, Pricelock pays the difference.

It is available for iPhone, iPad and Android and Blackberry devices.

"Our mission is to use technology to transform the way the energy is bought and sold by streamlining the entire process, creating a more efficient and liquid market and contributing directly to the bottom line of companies that buy and sell fuel, natural gas and coal," Pricelock's Agarwal says in a statement. "Our new mobile app is the next step forward."

As for the fuel price protection, small businesses pay a fee that protects them when fuel prices rise above the maximum price of fuel the owner is willing to pay. They pay only the premium quoted them when they set their limits through the company's Web site.

Customers use Pricelock tools to set monthly fuel usage in gallons and the length of their contract -- typically six months or a year. The tool calculates a quote. If national fuel price averages rise above the owner's threshold during the policy's term, Pricelock pays the difference.

"If gas prices go up, we're going to pay you to offset that amount you're paying at the pump," Liat Rorer, Pricelock's chief marketing officer, said last year. "If gas prices go down you're going to benefit by paying less than what is in your budget."

Rorer said the risk-management strategy should be used by any company that has fuel costs as a large percentage of expenses, regardless of volatility at any given time.

"The best time to put fuel price protection in place is part of a regular risk-management program as you come into the year doing your budget," she says. "We're really trying to empower the small-business owner to be able to run their business the way large businesses have been run."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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