Electricity Competition: One Month Later . . .

With January electric bills in the hands of rate payers there is a host of discussion about the successes and short comings of electricity deregulation. Unlike Rep. George and supporters of efforts to reregulate through a Pennsylvania Power Authority, one month of competition in the mid state has already produced a host of benefits.

Jobs: Gateway Energy is offering the lowest electricity rate among residential suppliers and has opened a call center in northeastern Pennsylvania, hiring about 40 people with the goal of 100 positions by the end of 2010.

Consumer Choice: PPL’s Time of Use rates were recently approved by the PUC. This program creates an incentive to conserve by charging customers higher rates during hours of high demand. For instance electricity between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. is more expensive than electricity used in the morning. Of course this plan is part of the Act 129 mandates and will cost PPL about $100,000 to implement. Without choice all rate payers in PPL territory would be forced to subsidize this program.

More Competition: Direct Energy has announced a new 12-month fixed rate of 9.89 cents per kWh with no cancellation fee and a 9.79 cents per kwh rate for veterans and the elderly. And since mid-January two new suppliers, Gateway Energy and Washington Gas and Energy, have entered the residential market

Green Options: Along with conservation programs initiated by Act 129 consumers can now participate in Green Options from Direct Energy.

Lower Rates In the Future: PPL has already procured a portion of the power they will need for 2011 at rates below the current 10.448 cents per kwh. If this trend continues PPL ratepayers will see a decrease in their bills next year and competitive suppliers will be under pressure to lower their rates.

Declaring deregulation a failure ignores the almost 20% of PPL customers who have switched to alternative energy suppliers. About 263,000 PPL customers have chosen alternative power suppliers, or 218,000 residential customers and 45,000 commercial and industrial customers. This represents 40% of the total electric load.

And if you have no idea how to shop or why you should shop for your electricity check out our Citizen’s Guide to Electric Choice. Or this campaign informative pamphlet, compliments of House Speaker McCall . . . aka your tax dollars.