86 Percent of Pennsylvania's Electricity Customers Agree a $150 to $500 Rebate Check Would Make a Difference for their Families

Survey finds overwhelming support for full competition in Pennsylvania

Oct 18, 2010, 15:54 ET from Direct Energy

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey of more than 800 electricity customers in Pennsylvania found that nine in ten (91 percent) respondents would support a proposal by Direct Energy to increase electricity competition and provide immediate benefits to consumers.  

The poll comes on the heels of a proposal by Direct Energy to the state's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to allow competitive energy suppliers to tender offers to serve the utilities' existing customers, thereby removing the utility as the 'default' service provider.  As a result, the approximately 2 million residential, commercial and small industrial customers served by Met-Ed, Penn Power, Penelec and Allegheny Power could benefit by as much as $150 to $500 per account through a competitive process.

"Pennsylvanians want choice; the results of this survey send a resounding message of support to the state's legislators and regulators to continue on with their original vision for electricity competition," said Chris Weston, President and CEO, Direct Energy.  "Not only do they want more choice, a very large majority believe that the money currently locked up in the existing utility structure would be helpful to their families and benefit the state by stimulating spending."

Among the highlights of the survey results:

  • 89 percent of respondents said they think it is important to be given more choices when deciding on electricity suppliers;

  • Three quarters agreed that, in the current economic climate, a rebate check would help to stimulate spending in Pennsylvania;

  • 89 percent said they would support the plan to increase competition among electricity suppliers;

  • Respondents were more likely to support the proposal knowing that, if their account was subject to a competitive process and transferred to a competitive energy supplier, they would be able to switch suppliers afterwards with no penalties or fees.

"Pennsylvania is fast becoming one of the most dynamic competitive electricity markets in North America, as service territories continue to open and more energy retailers start competing," said Cory Byzewski, Vice President and General Manager, US North, Direct Energy Residential. "Since last February alone, more than a dozen retailers started selling residential commodity in the state.  Clearly, increased retail competition, and ultimately moving to a fully competitive marketplace, is a good thing for Pennsylvania consumers."

The Company's original proposal to the PUC included three key elements:

  • Allow competitive energy retailers to better compete to serve customers.  While competitive energy suppliers are now operating in markets across Pennsylvania, the First Energy Corporation and Allegheny Power utility companies plan to continue to play a dominant role as the default service provider after the merger.  This type of service should be a "back stop," not a "first stop" for customers in a fully competitive market.  As a result of this ongoing role and other measures, which do not promote customer choice, only a small percentage of consumers are shopping for their electricity in the First Energy and Allegheny Power service territories.    
  • Allow competing suppliers to bid for the opportunity to serve customers' energy needs.  This process could potentially generate between $300 million to $1 billion in funds, which should be returned to a majority of 2 million Allegheny Power electricity customers in Pennsylvania.    
  • Create a separate billing company. It would be responsible for performing the billing functions that the utility does today, as well as sending bills to electricity customers on behalf of their competitive supplier of choice.  At present, competitive electricity suppliers in the state are able to sell their products, but in most cases they are simply a line on the bill from the local utility.  The creation of a billing company would foster the development of innovative products and services to help customers manage their overall energy bill, assist with the state's commitment to promote conservation and demand-response, while potentially translating into new jobs or the retention of existing jobs that might otherwise be lost to another state as a result of the proposed acquisition.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

About Direct Energy

Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related service providers with over 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE: CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 states and 10 provinces in Canada. Direct Energy Residential and Direct Energy Business have approximately 300 employees in Pennsylvania.  In 2009, Direct Energy Business located its North American headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  More recently, Direct Energy acquired Clockwork Home Services in June 2010, which has 29 small businesses in the state, employing as many as 215 people, and its affinity group members employ another 314 people throughout Pennsylvania.  To learn more about Direct Energy, visit www.directenergy.com.  

About the survey

The Pennsylvania Electricity Choice Survey, conducted by Zogby International on behalf of Direct Energy, was completed by more than 800 electricity customers in the four First Energy and Allegheny Power service territories.  Telephone interviews were conducted by internationally recognized polling firm Zogby International in late September 2010.  The margin of error for n=800 is at =+/- 3.5 percent.  

SOURCE Direct Energy