Electric customers at Duquesne Light in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the surrounding region are paying outrageously high electric rates if they are still buying their power supply from Duquesne Light instead of shopping for a lower electric rate.
With the competition that Pennsylvania has introduced into the electric industry, customers can choose their supplier of electricity -- much like they do with long distance service, cellular service, and cable/internet. That means customers can shop around for the best electric rate, and don't have to keep paying the utility's high rate.
And when customers shop for a low electric rate, their electric supply is still delivered by their local utility (in Pittsburgh, Duquesne Light), over the same wires and poles. Customers who shop are treated exactly the same as customers who do not shop, as the transmission and distribution of electricity remains regulated by the Public Utility Commission -- choosing a competing electric supplier lowers your bill, but has no effect on your service quality, restoration time, or outages, you still get the exact same service from your utility.
Duquesne Light has one of the highest rates for electric supply in Pennsylvania, because it locked-in its price three years ago when electric rates were high. That means that the Duquesne Light electric rate isn't reflecting the savings made available from the shale gas revolution and the decrease in demand for electricity, which have drastically lowered electricity prices.
Specifically, Duquesne Light's residential "Price to Compare" is 9.89 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The Price to Compare is the rate for buying electric supply from Duquesne Light and not shopping, and is the rate that customers avoid by choosing a competing electric supplier. If a competing electric supplier offers an electric rate less than the Price to Compare, then customers save money by switching to a new electric provider.
Right now, competing electric suppliers are offering rates up to 40% below the Duquesne Light Price to Compare for customers who shop. These residential electric rates are as low as 6¢/kWh, versus the Duquesne Light rate of nearly 10¢/kWh.