Retail electricity provider Direct Energy was recently named a finalist in the Community Relations category in the 2012 American Business Awards, and will take home either the Gold, Silver or Bronze Stevie Award.

Direct Energy was selected as a nominee for its strong support of the communities it serves. The company's Volunteer Citizen of the Year award programs honored more than a dozen volunteers and charitable organizations in 2011, and have spread to communities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania in recent years.

"Being selected as a finalist in the 10th Annual Stevie Awards is quite an honor," said Steven Murray, president of Direct Energy Residential. "We are very proud of our Volunteer Citizen of the Year award programs and the opportunity these programs give us to honor outstanding volunteerism in the areas we serve. This type of recognition is gratifying and we are very excited for what is to come."

The program mirrors similar initiatives electricity providers have started all over the country. As more states adopt energy deregulation laws, customers are being given the option to compare electricity rates and choose what best fits them. Such programs have proven to effectively draw in new customers and retain current energy users.