Co-op rate under 10 cents

Despite rising temperatures and growing concern in the Middle East region, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce has solidified a rate of 9.897 cents per kWh without a demand charge for the 76 members of its electric cooperative.

Officials from CQI Associates, the Maryland-based company working with the Chamber, received the rate on Wednesday and had until the close of the market yesterday to receive signed contracts from co-op members.

“To get these folks in under 10 cents and to get them off the demand rate is going to make it a lot easier to for them to absorb the increase,” said Karen McGrath, the Chamber’s executive director.

The Medium General Service Delmarva Power commercial rate, for instance, rose to 11.5 cents per kWh after the May 1 increase, McGrath said. The co-op was open only to Delmarva Power commercial customers who were members of the Chamber. Although the new rate will still be an increase from the pre-May 1 rates, McGrath added, it should help area businesses immensely.

“We’re really pleased with the participation in the co-op,” McGrath said. “It just shows what happens when people work together to buy together to get a better price. That’s what Chambers of Commerce are supposed to do.”

The dollar amount of savings and length of contracts for co-op members was not immediately available. Richard Anderson, CQI principal, said earlier that an 8 to 25 percent savings — depending on current rate class with Delmarva Power — is likely.

Anderson also seemed pleased with the co-op’s turnout — 60 accounts were registered in the last week before the June 30 deadline, leaving the co-op with 76 members representing 181 accounts.

“It’s a very good size co-op,” Anderson said in an earlier interview. “I think its going to be a good initial effort.”

The Chamber’s board voted unanimously on May 3 to form a co-op for its members because of high energy costs. On May 1, because of high supply contracts based on rising fossil fuel prices, Delmarva Power commercial customers’ electric rates increased from 47 to 117 percent.

McGrath announced the Chamber’s partnership with CQI on May 8. CQI is currently working with 19 other chambers throughout the region on similar cooperative efforts to counter rising prices.

The Chamber started looking into the cooperative alternative in February, when the electric company first announced the then-pending rate hikes. Governmental and residential cooperative efforts have also stemmed from the rising prices.