Several towns in the region recently signed an agreement with a company that is expected to save residents and businesses money on electricity costs.
Direct Choice is a program offered by Direct Energy, a supplier of electricity and natural gas, that sets a fixed rate for electricity through a defined period of time.
Locally, Windham, Coventry, Hebron and Hampton have signed the agreement, with one town outside the region, Marlborough, on board.
Under the program, customers will pay a fixed rate of 9.29 cents per kilowatt hour for the nine-month period from October through June 30, 2011.
The rate will be effective for the November through July 2011 billing cycles.
Coventry Town Manager John Elsesser said customers would save up to 18 percent on electrical costs under the program, not including other charges. Electricity comprises about 50 percent of each electric bill.
The savings don’t affect taxes and distribution fees.
Senior citizens over age 65 will receive an even cheaper rate on electricity, 8.99 cents per kilowatt hour, under Direct Choice. Elsesser said that rate is “very competitive.”
“It’s one of the best rates I’ve seen around,” he said.
Elsesser said there are no enrollment or early termination fees and there is no deadline for registration, although he recommended customers sign up as soon as possible.
It takes a month and a half for the new contract to go through the billing cycle, he said.
“The sooner you sign up, the more savings you are going to get,” Elsesser said.
According to a press release issued by Direct Energy, residents and small businesses involved in the program saved approximately $5.9 million in energy costs through its offers in United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power service territories.
Elsesser said Coventry was inspired to participate in the program because almost 75 percent of Connecticut residents have not transitioned to an independent electrical supplier yet.
“People are afraid of change,” Elsesser said. “We thought this would make people more comfortable with it.”
Windham Town Manager Neal Beets said he hopes Windham residents will take advantage of the new program, a transition he said would be “pretty friction-free.”
Beets said the program would be beneficial especially during these tough economic times.
“Anything we can do to save residents money is a good thing,” Beets said.
Elsesser said town offices in Coventry will not participate in Direct Choice because the town is locked into its current electric company. “We locked in years ago,” Elsesser said.
Elsesser said Coventry residents and businesses should be sent mailings within the next week with details about Direct Choice.
There is also a presentation scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Coventry’s Patriots Park Lodge at 10 a.m. for senior citizens.
Residents can sign up for the program itself at the PumpkinFest on Saturday, Oct. 9, from noon to 3 p.m. at Patriots Park.
Coventry residents can enroll by using the password, Coventryct, on the direct energy web site, www.directenergy.com. For senior citizen rates, individuals must call the company.
For other participants, residents can log on to Direct Energy’s web site, or contact the company’s customer service department toll free at (866) 803-4618 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information.
Posted Sept. 7, 2010