Delaware Adopts Retail-Choice Legislation
The Delaware General Assembly passed legislation last week that
will bring retail choice to the majority of the state's electricity
customers by October 2000 and to all of its power customers by
April 2001. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov.
Thomas R. Carper next week.
Under the "Electric Utility Restructuring Act of 1999,"
residential customers and small-medium commercial and industrial
users of Conectiv - the state's largest utility - and Delaware
Electric Cooperative (DEC) will be able to choose their own
suppliers in 18 months and 24 months, respectively, after the
legislation is enacted. The kick-off date for this class of
Conectiv customers would be Oct. 1, 2000, while the starting date
for DEC customers would be April 1, 2001.
Larger commercial and industrial customers of Conectiv and DEC
would be eligible for retail choice a year earlier - Oct. 1, 1999
and April 1, 2000, respectively. Establishments such as office
complexes and other medium-to-large commercial and industrial users
of Conectiv and DEC would be eligible Jan. 15, 2000 and July 1,
The measure also would give Conectiv's residential users a 7.5%
rate cut beginning Oct. 1999, which would be frozen for a four-year
period. Other Conectiv customers would get a three-year rate freeze
effective the same date. Rates for DEC customers are expected to be
cut by about 4% effective May 1, 1999, pending approval of the
Delaware Public Service Commission, and then frozen for a five-year
period starting April 1, 2000.
With this legislation, Delaware joins other states in the
region, such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey, that have
either begun implementing customer choice or have already passed
restructuring laws. Delaware has been "basically surrounded" by
states moving towards retail choice, said Conectiv spokesman Ted
Caddell. This bill will enable the state to stay at the "forefront
of regional competition" in the electricity market, noted Conectiv
Chairman and CEO Howard E. Cosgrove.
Conectiv, which was formed last year by a merger of Delmarva
Power & Light and Atlantic Energy, serves 350,000 electric
customers in Delaware, while DEC provides service to about 56,000
users. There are nine municipal providers in the state, but they
will not be subject to the deadlines for choice outlined in the
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