Duquesne Light customers receive 16-percent savings

Pittsburgh (PRNewswire) More than 500,000 of Duquesne Light’s residential customers are seeing a decrease in their overall electric bills, averaging 16 percent, thanks to the elimination of the Competitive Transition Charge (CTC).

The joint announcement of the reduction was attended in Pittsburgh by Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Glen Thomas, Morgan K. O’Brien, president and chief executive officer of DQE, and Victor A. Roque, president of Duquesne Light Company. DQE is Duquesne Light’s parent company.

Duquesne Light is the first electric utility in Pennsylvania to eliminate the CTC from customer bills, which will result in a significant economic impact for the region. The CTC enabled electric companies to recover transition costs as the industry restructured into a competitive environment.

“Our ability to accomplish this transition successfully underscores our continuing relationship with our customers and our region,” O’Brien said. “We believe the elimination of the CTC will allow Duquesne Light to play an integral role in the emergence of the new Pittsburgh and we will continue to be a dependable home-base for our customers by providing them with a safe, reliable and secure source of energy at a fair price.”

Joining O’Brien, Gov. Schweiker and Chairman Thomas at the Carnegie Science Center’s Works Theater were state and local elected officials, as well as community and business leaders from throughout the region.

As a result of the CTC elimination, more than 500,000 of Duquesne Light’s residential customers will see an average 16-percent reduction in their overall bills and save approximately $175 per year, regardless of whom is generating their electricity. The savings will pump more than $90 million of additional discretionary dollars into the economy annually. Total savings for all customers (residential, commercial and industrial) when the CTC is fully eliminated will be approximately $220 million annually.

“This is a great day for southwestern Pennsylvania and a milestone event in the 120-year history of a forward-thinking company such as Duquesne Light,” Gov. Schweiker said. “This reduction enhances the potential for continued growth throughout the region and sends a powerful message that competitive electric rates now are also part of the equation in terms of attracting new people to the region.”

In 1996, Gov. Tom Ridge signed into law the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act, which cleared the way for customer choice and afforded Duquesne Light the opportunity to sell its electric generation plants. In April 2000, Duquesne Light successfully sold these plants and used a portion of the proceeds from this $1.7 billion sale to eliminate the CTC from customer bills.

“Once again, Pennsylvania is showing the rest of the world how to do it right,” said Gov. Schweiker. “Customer choice is paying off for Pennsylvania’s families and employers, and I applaud Duquesne Light for contributing to our evolving competitive electricity marketplace and the PUC for being a steward of competition.”

According to Victor Roque, president of Duquesne Light, “Today we are witnessing yet another positive result of the extensive work of a broad coalition of stakeholders that came together to craft Pennsylvania’s landmark Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act. Comprised of legislators, utility representatives and business advocates, this group can be credited with setting the national standard for the successful transition to customer choice. At Duquesne Light, we continue to work with the PUC and others as we look to maintain an adequate supply of electricity and stable rates beyond 2004 and into the next decade.”

PUC Chairman Thomas echoed Gov. Schweiker’s sentiments that customer choice is working in Pennsylvania. “We are optimistic about choice in Pennsylvania. Before competition, electric rates were 15 percent above the national average. Now, they are 1 percent below.”

As part of the deregulation process, Duquesne Light was able to accelerate its transition by passing these savings on to its customers seven years earlier than any other Pennsylvania electric utility.

“The acceleration was made possible because of Duquesne Light’s commitment to its customers and the way competition is working in Pennsylvania,” Thomas said. “Our experience demonstrates, and the elimination of Duquesne Light’s CTC underscores, that customer choice is a concept that works.”

In December 2001, Pennsylvania marked five years since the customer choice legislation was signed into law. According to the PUC, up to one million Pennsylvanians have cumulatively shopped for power and more than 550,000 people currently are being served by alternate generation suppliers.

“We have the right framework and system in place, and the marketplace ultimately will perform exactly as it is intended to,” Thomas said. “Thanks to competition, I believe we will continue to see lower prices, improved customer service and increased technological advancement.”


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