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    Electricity supplier Direct Energy announced that it will add price protection to current residential electric variable rates offered in Pennsylvaniabeginning April 1, 2014. The utility regions that would be impacted include: Duquesne Light Company, Metropolitan Edison Company (MetEd), PECO Energy Company, Penn Power, Penelec, Pike County Light & Power Company, PPL Electric Utilities, and West Penn Power.

    The price protection will offer current residential customers with variable rates in their contracts the flexibility of a month-to-month plan and protection against price spikes caused by short-term market events, such as the recent record cold temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex.

    Direct Energy's maximum residential electric variable price protection levels range from 11.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending upon the utility area.

    While the price protection levels are above Direct Energy's current residential electric rates, the increased cost per kilowatt hour represents the maximum variable residential electric rate Direct Energy would charge in each of the utility areas in Pennsylvania in the event of another round of unforeseen and unexpected extreme market volatility. Direct Energy is committing to these price protection levels for six months.

    After the initial six month variable price protection period ends, Direct Energy will provide its residential customers with a minimum of 30 days advance notice of any proposed change to enable those customers to determine which plan is right for them.

    The residential electric variable rate price protection does not include incremental services procured including but not limited to: green products, rewards, home services, or other non-energy related items.

    “Direct Energy has listened to our customers and we believe these proposed improvements will make the retail market a more simple, friendly and direct environment for all customers to better realize the benefits of competition,” said Manu Asthana, president of Direct Energy’s residential business. “In addition to these priority areas, Direct Energy also supports enhancements that include increasing the financial fitness standards for retail suppliers, stronger enforcement against suppliers and sales representatives that violate customer protection regulations, and new measures to promote fixed price contracts.”

    “We continue to work to provide integrated home services and cost-effective energy products within competitive markets because we understand the benefits they can bring to our customers,” Asthana added.