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    Between donation programs and helping needy groups with their electricity bills, retail electricity providers continue to find ways to get involved in the local communities that they serve. Now Houston-based Direct Energy has announced that it plans to launch the Harrisburg Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award with the help of regional newspaper The Patriot-News.

    Direct Energy notes the award mirrors another successful program the company started in its former hometown, Alberta, Canada, back in 2005.

    The program will allow residents in The Patriot-News' area around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to nominate people or groups they feel have had a major positive impact on the community, even themselves.

    The winner, aside from getting an article featuring them in the newspaper, will win $1,000 for themselves and $5,000 for their cause from Direct Energy. Nominations will all need to make clear what these groups or individuals would put the money toward, but that kind of money could help plenty of local charities.

    Pennsylvania is an increasingly important state for electricity suppliers, after finishing the transition to electricity deregulation, and many companies are putting a great deal of effort into convincing residents of the benefits of switching electricity providers.