Penelec customers will see a decrease in their price of electricity beginning next week.
Beginning March 1, the residential rate for electricity will drop from 8.21 cents per kilowatt hour to 7.50 cents per kilowatt hour, said spokesman Scott Surgeoner of FirstEnergy Corp., Penelec's parent company.
The average residential customer who uses 750 kilowatt hours per month will see his bill drop from $106.46 to $104.29, a 2 percent decrease, Surgeoner said.
The rate will be effective through May 31.
Surgeoner said several factors contributed to the latest decrease.
"The economy plays a role. We still have an abundant supply. Demand is not as great as in the past. Natural gas prices are down, and they help drive the price of electricity. We also have had a very mild fall and winter. It is all of these factors together," he said.
BY THE NUMBERS
Penelec's residential electricity rate will go down effective March 1. Prices change every quarter. The price to compare per kilowatt hour since the start of 2011 is as follows:
Prior to Jan. 1, 20115.70 cents per kwh
Jan. 1, 20117.03 cents per kwh
March 1, 20117.68 cents per kwh
June 1, 20116.99 cents per kwh
Sept. 1, 20117.62 cents per kwh
Dec. 1, 20118.21 cents per kwh
March 1, 20127.50 cents per kwh
When electricity rate caps expired Dec. 31, 2010, Penelec increased its rate for electricity from 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour to 7.03 cents per kilowatt hour for residential customers. The rate, which Penelec calls its "price to compare" has fluctuated since that time. The company updates prices quarterly.
Penelec serves 600,000 customers in 31 western Pennsylvania counties.
"There are a number of suppliers willing to serve Penelec customers. If you get a handful or more of suppliers that competition is going to lead to better or competitive pricing," Surgeoner said.
The list of suppliers can be found at PAPower
Switch.com. To date, more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have switched electric suppliers.
For the Altoona area, there are 10 providers, in addition to Penelec. The rates for the area, according to PAPowerSwitch.com, range from Con Edison Solutions at 6.84 cents per kilowatt hour to Dominion Energy Solutions at 8.59 cents per kilowatt hour.
"That message that we encourage every customer to go to PAPowerSwitch is a key message for us today and as we continue to go forward. It is a personal choice," Surgeoner said.
The Blair County Chamber of Commerce is continuing to offer a residential program for the 46,000 employees who work for the Chamber's nearly 1,000 member businesses.
Through that program offered through FirstEnergy Solutions, an unregulated subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., those employees were able to lock in a rate of 7.25 cents per kilowatt hour through the end of 2013.
"I think the program has gone well; we still get many calls. The awareness is starting to sink in as the rates change and more companies come in with different offers," said Joe Hurd, chamber president and CEO. "We have felt very good about the money we have been able to save people."