What Electric Choice means for co-op members
Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, along with the other rural electric co-ops in Pennsylvania, has allowed its members to choose their power suppliers ever since 1999. However, in order for power supply choice to work, alternative electric suppliers (also called electric generation suppliers or EGSs) must agree to serve co-op territories.
There are currently no electric generation suppliers for co-op members to choose, because no EGSs have chosen to serve in Valley’s service territory or, for that matter, the territory of any other rural electric cooperative in Pennsylvania.
If any EGSs decide to serve Valley consumers, the cooperative will immediately notify all members and will also offer more detailed information and instructions on how consumers can make the switch. It’s important to remember that consumers who choose an alternate generation supplier will still have their power delivered by Valley REC and will remain co-op members.
Given that no EGSs have chosen to serve co-op territory, a likely conclusion would be that there are sound business reasons for that decision. In other words, the “price to compare” or cost per kilowatt-hour between the EGSs’ rates and Valley’s rates is extremely competitive. In addition, the cooperative’s rural areas consist of mostly residential accounts rather than large industrial or commercial accounts that would be more profitable to serve.
The electric utility market is constantly changing under deregulation. Some electric generation suppliers may wait for the market to mature before investing in new service territories. Initially, most suppliers competed in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, where electricity prices were much higher than elsewhere in the state. More recently, EGSs have been cropping up in other more urban and suburban areas of Pennsylvania, particularly since rate caps have come off for numerous private power companies.
Want more information about electric generation suppliers, deregulation and customer choice? Read this excerpt from the common pages of the December 2010 issue of Penn Lines magazine, provided by Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association. The Top 10 things you need to know about Electric Choice (PDF, 125 KB).
The following websites may offer helpful information as well:
- PA Power Switch: www.papowerswitch.com
- Public Utility Commission: www.puc.state.pa.us/
- Office of Consumer Advocate: www.oca.state.pa.us
Please note that these sites will open in a new browser tab or window. Valley Rural Electric Cooperative is not responsible for the content of these sites.