Delaware Electric Co-op votes to decrease rates

DOVER — Customers who receive their electricity from Delaware Electric Cooperative got some good news on Wednesday night.

The cooperative’s board of directors approved a rate decrease for all 102,000 of its members as, beginning on June 1, rates for those served by DEC will fall by 4 percent, a reduction that will save its customers a combined $7 million per year.

“Falling wholesale power costs and our nationally recognized Beat the Peak program allowed us to lower energy costs for our members, said Bill Andrew, president and CEO of DEC. “Beat the Peak has saved members more than $32 million since 2008.”

That could be a trend. Earlier this month, the city of Milford voted to lower its electric rate, and the city of Dover plans to reduce its rates as well.

DEC board members approved a decrease in the Power Cost Adjustment factor from $0.024/kWh (kilowatt hour) to $0.019/kWh, below other power companies in Delaware such as Delmarva Power (0.038046 kWh) and the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC), which has varying rates among six cities and towns in Kent and Sussex counties.

The DEC rate decrease is expected to save the average family using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity $5 per month, or $60 per year.

Mr. Andrew said that while the co-op’s rates have been adjusted periodically over the last decade, they remain among the lowest in the region.

When the rate decrease takes effect on June 1, co-op members will be paying the same price for power they did in 2008. While the rate change was planned before the COVID-19 crisis struck, DEC officials hope lower energy costs will help those struggling financially during the pandemic.

“Our 155 employees work extremely hard to provide members with affordable and reliable power,” Mr. Andrew said. “We are proud to offer Delawareans some of the lowest electric rates on Delmarva.”

Delaware Electric Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility powering more than 102,000 homes, farms and businesses in Kent and Sussex counties. For more information, visit www.delaware.coop or www.beatthepeak.coop or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

DEMEC rates drop as virus affects energy demand

Patrick E. McCullar, president and CEO of DEMEC, said that with the COVID-19 outbreak this spring, it has made for an interesting year for power companies throughout the state.

DEMEC provides electrical power to Clayton, Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Lewes and Seaford and some of those municipal customers are also benefiting from lower rates.

On May 11, members of Milford City Council agreed to lower rates from DEMEC, which will reduce their customers’ bills by 5 percent when they go into effect on June 1. The city’s kWp will drop to .10560 kWp from its current .11587 kWp, but the city’s monthly flat rate will increase from $16 to $19.

Mark Whitfield, acting city manager for Milford, said the average customer should save around $62 per year.

According to an electric rate comparison done by the city, once the lower rate is implemented in June, the average electric customer in Milford will pay $124.78 per month for 1,000 kwh usage while DEC customers pay $122.12 and Delmarva Power customers pay $137.58 in the winter and $134.33 in the summer for the same amount of power.

Matt Harline, assistant city manager for Dover, said its electric rates are also proposed to be decreased for its customers on July 1.

“The monthly $8.46 is the current base meter fee. That (fee) is charged every month if you have a meter, Even if you don’t turn on a light bulb.” The other two parts of the rate for a residential customer is the energy charge and the ‘green energy charge.’

“Plus the city charges or deducts a Power Cost Adjustment depending on the city’s cost of energy.”

Dover’s electric customers are currently paying a rate of $0.1206 kWh, but that is expected to drop to a net rate of $0.11390 kWh in July.

“So the net effect is that residential customers will see their electric rates will come down,” said Mr. Harline. “Most commercial and industrial electric rates are being reduced as well. This is not so much a response to COVID as part of following an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) the city conducted a few years back aimed at keeping electric rates low.

“As a municipal utility our only goal is to serve our customers and a series of good decisions over many years make this rate reduction possible.”

All the power companies within the state have had to adjust during the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing financial challenges it has placed on many residents, by suspending service disconnections and waiving new late payments fees and charges they may receive.

“We have seen a combination of mild weather and the mandated shutdown of businesses in Delaware impact demand for energy in our community utilities,” Mr. McCullar said. “In aggregate, energy demand was down 6.7 percent in March and 7 percent in April.

“This is in line with the energy demand reductions seen in our mid-Atlantic region (13 states and the District of Columbia) based on data provided by PJM, or regional transmission organization. The actual impacts on each community utility vary and depends greatly on the customer class distribution.”

Mr. McCullar said DEMEC is supporting its communities by keeping work crews in the field and generation plant operators healthy and protected so they can maintain the high reliability of electric service the communities depend on.

“DEMEC will also financially support our member community utilities by keeping the cost of power supply as low as possible in the face of reduced energy demand which causes a negative revenue impact on all,” said Mr. McCullar. “The impact is lower in those communities that have a larger percentage or residential customers versus commercial and industrial customers.

“Our Kent and Sussex county community utilities have a higher percentage of residential customers, so the impact has been smaller. The impact is greater in those communities that have a larger percentage of commercial and industrial customers that have been forced to reduce or completely shut down operations.”

Meanwhile, Delmarva Power, a unit of Exelon Corporation, the nation’s leading energy provider with around 10 million customers has also had to adjust to the way it does businesses through the current health crisis.

Delmarva Power provides energy service to about 527,000 electric customers in Delaware and Maryland and 134,000 natural gas customers in northern Delaware.

“We know that the coronavirus is creating challenges for all of us,” said Gary Stockbridge, region president for Delmarva Power. “In these difficult times please know that we will continue to perform our critical role of providing safe and reliable energy for our communities, while protecting the safety and health of our employees, contractors and customers.”