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    Even in the heart of coal country, electricity rates are still on the rise and Pittsburgh residents have been feeling the pain of those high prices. Toronto-based electricity provider Direct Energy has teamed up with The Pittsburgh Promise to help residents handle these rising expenses.

    The Pittsburgh Promise is designed primarily to build the kind of environment that will allow the city's students and younger residents to excel.

    To that end, Direct Energy has offered staff and the families of students at the city's public schools the opportunity to sign up for its standard Direct Choice electricity service with an added bonus: through May of next year, people who sign up will receive a discount on the already low electricity rate of as much as 20 percent.

    "We are thrilled to be able to work in conjunction with The Pittsburgh Promise to help Pittsburgh Public Schools' families and employees cut costs on electricity bills," Cory Byzewski, vice president and general manager of Direct Energy Residential US North, said in a statement. "With a portion of the proceeds from this offer going back to The Pittsburgh Promise, this is truly a win-win for everyone."

    The Pittsburgh Tribune reports that Direct Energy's standard rate is already 15 percent lower than that offered by Duquesne Light, and a growing number of other electricity suppliers are offering similar rates. The partnership with The Pittsburgh Promise could give Direct and edge in the area, however.