Mitchell and CAP getting organized


After months of exploring opportunities and familiarizing with energy industry jargon, Perry Mitchell and his group, Consumers for Alternative Power, are getting organized.

With himself and a group of nine others across the immediate area, from Millsboro to Bethany Beach, Mitchell and CAP formed an executive board this month. The board is now contemplating future expansion, political moves and is ready to accept formal applications.

“I found that there was a need for a group of people to take some actions and make some decisions rather than just myself,” said Mitchell, who attempted to secure bids for energy from companies this summer. “I want them to weigh in on what we should do as a group.”

This summer, in failed attempted negotiations to secure lower energy rates for group members, Mitchell negotiated assuming that CAP had 2,500 members. Those assumptions were mostly based on e-mail conversations and home owners’ association leaders’ promises, according to Mitchell.

Next month, though, officials will send formal applications with area HOA newsletters to gauge official — formal — interest and collective usage amongst the group. Mitchell will also send applications through e-mail to those that are not affiliated with any of the estimated 16 interested HOAs. The board hopes to have the applications returned through e-mail or regular mail by February.

Next summer, Mitchell again hopes to reassume negotiations using solid numbers. (If a bid was secured, though, individual group members would sign personal contracts with the company because CAP is not an official cooperative. Mitchell would only serve as a go-between.)

Besides negotiating possible lower rates, though, Mitchell and the group has political aspirations. Starting by sending letters-to-the-editor in local papers this year, they hope to be in a position to endorse a candidate and promote competition in the local electricity market by 2008, theoretically making energy a thinking-point at Delaware polls, Mitchell said. Future expansion and potential mergers with upstate organizations are also topics of discussion amongst CAP’s newly-formed board.

“I’m under no illusions of how difficult this is going to be,” Mitchell said this week. “We want to contact groups upstate. We want to influence the legislature. This is going to be a very difficult road.”

Mitchell formed CAP this spring in response to rising energy prices. Delmarva Power raised their residential rates an average of 59 percent on May 1 after a seven-year rate cap was lifted. Since early summer, Mitchell has solicited membership mostly through HOAs, attempted and failed to negotiate with large energy companies including Washington Gas Energy Services and studied the industry.

Membership in Mitchell’s now more-organized group requires that the applicant is currently served by Delmarva Power and has an e-mail address for communication purposes.

E-mail Mitchell at pmitchell@mchsi.com for more information.