State designates an official electricity supplier

DOVER — A new one-of-a-kind partnership between the state of Delaware and Direct Energy could save customers more than $100 a year, officials said Wednesday.

Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock announces Direct Energy is the officially endorsed energy supplier of Delaware on Wednesday outside Legislative Hall in Dover. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock announces Direct Energy is the officially endorsed energy supplier of Delaware on Wednesday outside Legislative Hall in Dover. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

The state formally designated the company as its exclusively contracted supplier after a search conducted by a committee made up of representatives from several state agencies.

The panel considered six suppliers and chose Direct Energy to be Delaware’s sole state-endorsed energy supplier based on potential cost savings of $15 per month on average, according to officials who spoke at a brief news conference at Legislative Hall.

“This a big deal. This is a really big deal,” said Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, who has advocated for greater electric choice. “Direct Energy’s going to save Delaware consumers a tremendous amount of money. They are going to finally fulfill the promise that deregulation made 15 years ago. When we deregulated electricity 15 years ago this is what we had in mind.”

The state allowed citizens to begin shopping for energy in 1999, but many people do not compare prices and shop for an electricity supplier, something Sen. Bonini, among others, has pushed to change through greater public outreach.

Energy deregulations allows people to actively examine prices for different energy suppliers and select their preferred option. Although Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric Cooperative remain the electricity deliverers, dozens of suppliers are available for Delawareans to choose from.

According to Direct Energy, about 10 percent to 12 percent of Delawareans search for a supplier, compared to 30 percent to 40 percent of residents of neighboring states.

Those who do not explore their options receive power from Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric Cooperative based on the suppliers they have contracted with.

The exact price varies per person depending on electricity usage, but supporters of choice emphasize savings can be found.

Residential customers and small-business owners are eligible to switch to Direct Energy starting July 1, while municipal and industrial consumers are not.

Individuals living in Clayton, Dover, Lewes, Middletown, Milford, Newark, Seaford, Smyrna and New Castle receive electricity through their municipality and so cannot choose their own supplier, according to the Delaware Public Service Commission.

Utility costs are one of the biggest hurdles to businesses considering moving to or expanding in Del-aware, Sen. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, claimed Wednesday. He believes greater public awareness of choice could create jobs.

“We need to do all we can to promote economic growth in this state,” he said. “You save consumers 18 percent, they spend money. They spend money, businesses hire help. We need jobs in this state more than any other thing, and hopefully this will be the first step in bringing some of those jobs to Del-aware.”

Anyone seeking more information can visit depsc.delaware.gov/electric.shtml or directenergy.com.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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