Penelec customers will see a decrease in their price of electricity beginning March 1.
The residential rate for electricity will decrease from 7.07 cents per kilowatt hour to 6.98 cents per kilowatt hour, said spokesman Scott Surgeoner of FirstEnergy Corp., Penelec's parent company.
The average residential customer who uses 750 kilowatt hours per month will see his bill decrease from $96.88 to $95.36, a 1.6 percent decrease.
The rate has dropped in four of the past five quarters.
"I attribute the decrease to the economy and the normal ebb and flow of the market. Natural gas is still abundant and drives the price of electricity. Nobody can predict the market," Surgeoner said. "We purchase on the market and look for the best price available so that we can give our customers who don't shop for electricity a low price. We still encourage people to go to PAPowerSwitch.com to shop for electricity."
When electricity rate caps expired Dec. 31, 2010, Penelec increased its rate from 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour to 7.03 cents per kilowatt hour for residential customers. The rate, which Penelec calls its "price to compare," has fluctuated since that time. The company updates prices quarterly to minimize spikes and deep valleys.
Penelec serves 600,000 customers in 31 western Pennsylvania counties. For the Altoona area there are 16 providers in addition to Penelec.
The rates for the area, according to PAPowerSwitch.com, range from Palmco Power LLC at 5.64 cents per kilowatt hour to NextEra Energy at 8.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
To date, more than 2 million Pennsylvanians have switched electric suppliers.
The Blair County Chamber of Commerce has offered a residential program to all Penelec customers in Blair County.
Through the program, offered through FirstEnergy Solutions, an unregulated subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., customers were able to lock in a rate of 7.25 cents per kilowatt hour through the end of 2013.
However, Joe Hurd, chamber president and CEO, said customers who are locked into the 7.25 cents per kilowatt hour program can now switch to a 5.64 cents per kilowatt hour program through the end of 2014.
If they are seeking a longer-term rate, customers can lock in a rate of 7.31 cents per kilowatt hour through July 2019, said Cheryl Hefft, senior energy adviser and director of eastern Pennsylvania sales for OnDemand Energy Solutions, which partners with the Chamber on the program.
"This is good news for everybody," Hurd said.
Anyone interested in enrolling in the Chamber program should call 866-699-9968 or register online at www.ondemandenergy.com.