Duke Energy’s retail affiliate is aggressively wooing Dayton Power & Light customers with a marketing campaign that includes mailings, community meetings and Internet websites.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based company has until now stuck mostly to its territory around Cincinnati.
But deregulation and the lure of potentially enrolling some of DP&L’s more than 500,000 customers in one of three service plans being offered is too much to resist for the company which bills itself as the largest electric power holding company in the United States.
Duke said its research shows DP&L customers have been quite loyal to the company — more so than customers of any other electric provider in Ohio — and have been very slow to switch providers. They say their plans offer cost savings, too.
Kim Vogelgesang of Duke Energy Retail held a meeting last month for 30 seniors at the Wesley Community Center in Dayton, and is planning another on Oct. 24th at the Miamisburg Senior Adult Center and four in November, two at the Lohrey Recreation Center in Dayton and two at the Greater Dayton Recreation Center.
The campaign began in late August with direct mailings, Vogelgesang said.
“We are in this for the long haul,” she said. “All indicators tell us the regulated utility prices will be high for some time.”
The three offers Duke has on the table for residents are a short-term agreement through May, a medium-term deal through December 2014, and a long-term agreement through December 2015.
Mary Ann Kabel, a DP&L spokeswoman, said customers considering switching need to be alert for additional fees, built-in price increases, special add-on services, and how new rates apply.
“Power prices have increased the marketing activity for customers throughout Ohio. DP&L customers have seen a number of outside companies come into the area,” Kabel said.
In June, DP&L Energy, an unregulated retail supplier and affiliate of DP&L, received the highest ranking in customer satisfaction from J.D. Power, outperforming other providers including Duke Energy, said spokeswoman for DP&L Energy Laurie Denger.
In September, DP&L received approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for a long-term plan to enter the competitive electricity market, although challenges are still pending with the commission. DP&L will be able to add a $5 charge on monthly bills to help fund the transition. The extra charge must be paid by everyone, regardless of whether they switch providers.
Vogelgesang said DP&L’s regulated prices are higher than what suppliers can offer. By monitoring the market, Duke has determined that only one in three Dayton-area residents takes advantage of potential savings.
Marty Berkowitz of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, a state-funded consumer watchdog that offers a comparison of state electric providers, said DP&L is charging above-market rates.
“An intention of the 1999 law establishing electric competition in Ohio was that consumers would have the benefit of paying market rates for their electric generation service,” he said. “Market prices for electricity continue to be historically low. Unfortunately, 14 years after the 1999 law, DP&L has been charging its customers well above the market price, denying consumers lower electric bills.”
DP&L serves customers spread over 24 counties throughout the Miami Valley, including Montgomery, Preble, Greene, Clinton, Fayette, Darke, Mercer, and also parts of Auglaize, Butler, Clark, Madison, Shelby, Logan, Champaign, Union, Hardin, Van Wert, Ross and Warren.