Citizens’ Electric Company of Lewisburg, PA is an investor-owned electric utility and is regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The service area encompasses approximately 55 square miles of territory in the borough of Lewisburg, Buffalo, East Buffalo and small portions of Kelly and West Buffalo Townships in Union County as well as a very small portion of West Chillisquaque Township in Northumberland County.
Operating one 69,000 volt substation and approximately 214 miles of 12,470 volt overhead and underground distribution lines, Citizens’ delivers nearly 175,000,000 kilowatt hours of highly reliable electricity annually.
A Short History of Citizens’ Electric Company of Lewisburg, PA
Citizens’ Electric was formed in 1911 on the heels of the failure of the Lewisburg Lighting Company. Dissatisfied with the service of the LLC, the Lewisburg Town Council did not renew their contract. Not willing to be left in the dark, influential local leaders of the day banded together to organize Citizens’ Electric Company of Lewisburg, PA. The new name was symbolic of their intention to maintain local ownership and control of the emerging company.
Electrification of Lewisburg began in 1912 with the construction of a new substation at Front and St. Anthony Streets in Lewisburg. The service area expanded quickly with new lines reaching all the way to Eighth Street, then into Linntown and by 1917, westward to Fairground Road. Customer roles swelled from an initial count of 188 to 596 in the first five years of operations.
The earliest use of electricity in Lewisburg was for lighting – carbon arc street lamps outside and tungsten bulbs inside. Shortly, the rotating electric motor made it’s way to town, forever changing the way we worked. Several of the earliest commercial and manufacturing customers were the Kurtz Print Shop, Purity Candy, Peerless Laundry, Weidensaul Bakery, Quaker Manufacturing and the Lewisburg Condensed Milk Plant.
The first installations of the well-known three globe “Lewisburg Streetlight” was completed in 1915 prior to paving Market Street for the first time. Citizens’ Electric provided the wiring and labor for the project which extended along Market Street from 2nd to 4th Street. By 1918, Market Street was illuminated all the way to 8th Street. Installation of the famous cast iron standards continue today as evidenced by the Borough of Lewisburg’s many recent street improvement projects.
The 1920’s were very expansive years for the Company. Distribution lines continued to be built, extending to Mazeppa, Vicksburg and beyond. Residential uses of electricity expanded as consumers found new appliances like radios, electric irons, fans, toasters, coffee pots, refrigerators, water pumps and vacuum cleaners as tools they could not do without.
Through the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s the company continued its growth. Lines kept reaching out farther into the rural areas and into the new post-war residential areas such as West Lawn, Bucknell Village and Ikler Park. Individual consumers used more and more electricity as well. Foreseeing the need to be able to deliver greater amounts of electricity, the Company embarked on a project of “formidable undertaking”. In 1949, a new substation with two 1,000 kVA transformers was constructed on the site of the original substation. Additionally, because of ever increasing loads at the Lewisburg Chair Company, Ilgen’s Ice Plant and the D&G Feed Company, the late 40’s and early 50’s found Citizens’ crews upgrading lines to increase the distribution voltage from 2,300 volts to 12,000 volts. Even as the names and faces changed at Citizens’ over time, the Company continued to exercise wise decisions and prudent investment in distribution plant.
Despite continued financial strength and growth, the company encountered many hardships along the way. The Great Depression, the Flood of 1936, World War II and the post-war reconstruction all pushed Citizens’ Electric to the limits, but each time the Company emerged stronger than before.
In 1961 Citizens’ energized their new St. Mary Street Substation, the largest project in Company history. This new substation had two 5 MVA transformers – five times the capacity of the old substation. Even though it was a substantial increase over the Front Street Substation, the St. Mary Street Substation would be expanded several more times over the years to the current level of nine 12,000 volt feeders and three transformers each capable of supplying up to 30 MVA.
During the 1960’s the Company was heavily involved in the promotion of electricity for heating homes and businesses as well as cooking and water heating. The new residential areas of Hunt Park, Brouse Addition and Valley View were constructed with predominantly “All Electric” homes. Many other homes were converted to the safe and flameless way of heating and cooking as well. Ultimately, it was this dramatic increase in sales of electricity that enabled the company to reduce rates several times.
During these advancing years the Company purchased several bucket trucks and a hydraulic digger truck that could dig a 6 foot deep pole hole in 10 minutes as compared to 4 to 8 man-hours by hand. This evolution in operations that utilized mechanical equipment made vast advancements in employee safety as well as productivity.
As a result of the oil embargo in 1973, Citizens’ discontinued all their promotional activities of electricity. It was now the company’s role to promote energy efficiency and conservation. Sales did drop off for a brief period, but as new homes were built in the new developments of Spruce Hills, West Acres and Wyndham Hills, sales eventually rebounded.
To consolidate operations and improve functionality, in 1982 the Company moved to the new corporate office and service center on Industrial Boulevard. By now, the Company’s geographic service territory was well defined and distribution lines covered most of it. One would think that all the lines that needed to be built had been done. However, the ever increasing uses for electricity and the vast numbers of new homes and businesses being constructed necessitated the expansion of the St. Mary Street Substation. In 1989, the original two 5 MVA transformers were replaced with one 30 MVA transformer and two new 12,000 volt feeders were built out to relieve load on other feeders.
Since at least the 1930’s, Citizens’ purchased wholesale electricity from PP&L (now PPL) as they owned the transmission lines that delivered the electricity to the substation. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 enabled Citizens’ open access to the transmission lines and ultimately, to alternative wholesale energy suppliers. With this new access to other energy suppliers, Citizens’ was able to solicit competitive bids for full requirements, load following, wholesale power supply contracts and thus the lowest possible delivered wholesale energy cost.
With open access to the transmission lines deemed a success, in 1996 Governor Tom Ridge signed the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act and we entered the new world of Customer Choice. Citizens’ was the first electric company in Pennsylvania to offer “choice” to 100% of their customers. However, Citizens’ wholesale rate to the consumer was so low that it was not attractive to alternative suppliers to try and compete and as a result, Citizens’ has never experienced much customer shopping for energy.
As deregulation continued to evolve in Pennsylvania, so did the theory that “bigger was better” and it became apparent that the future of the employees and shareholders of Citizens’ Electric was in question. In order to proactively make a decision that was best for all the stakeholders, including the loyal customers, in 1998, Citizens’ management began negotiations with interested partners and in 1999 Citizens’ became almost wholly owned by C&T Enterprises, Inc. C&T is an unregulated utility holding company owned in equal partnership by Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative (Wysox, PA) and Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, (Mansfield, PA). In addition to Citizens’, C&T wholly owns Wellsboro Electric Company and Valley Energy. C&T also provides a host of specialized management services to all the affiliated operating divisions.
Technology continues to be a source of many innovative solutions that improve productivity, accuracy and aid in decision making. In 2004 Citizens’ installed an automated meter reading (AMR) system across the entire territory. This state-of-the-art AMR technology collects meter data electronically via a communications interface over the company’s distribution lines. Hourly consumption data and meter voltages are accessible from any employee workstation. Remote meter reading eliminates the need to put crews on the road, manually reading and recording every meter reading each month. The meter reading manpower was re-directed to other maintenance activities and capital improvement projects.
As the wholesale energy supply market continued to develop, so did certain risk issues, such as price volatility of fuels and the related cost of generation, as well as other costs associated with delivery such as congestion on the transmission grid. To minimize the impact of these risk factors, in 2016 Citizens’ began buying energy utilizing a “full requirements, load following” approach. A Request for Proposals is periodically issued to wholesale suppliers for bids for a “supplier adder” that is based on forward market price indexes.
Distribution system records are also being computerized. Maps of the distribution lines are electronically digitized and displayed with each attribute’s underlying data and information neatly attached to the displayed, mapped item. An electronic model of the system enables engineers to quickly and accurately make decisions about system improvements, making sure that investments in capital projects are targeted to achieve the best improvement in service and reliability.
Citizens’ load continues to grow and with that growth comes more construction activity. Continued feeder reinforcements and upgrades as well as the installation of new lines for new residential, commercial and industrial customers keep the engineers and construction crews on the move.
As it has been since 1911, Citizens’ continues the tradition of conservative and fiscally responsible investment in utility plant. These simple principles characterize the cautious standard by which Citizens’ operates. The Company also places an emphasis on attracting and keeping high quality employees as well as employee safety which is evidenced by the outstanding record of safety performance. System reliability, low operating costs and exceptional customer service continue to be the primary objectives for Citizens’ staff.
It is noteworthy that in the early days of Citizens’ history, there were a multitude of electric companies across Pennsylvania. In fact, records show that in 1922 there were 343 electric companies chartered by the State to provide electric service. Mergers and consolidations caused that number to shrink to 28 by 1955. Today, Citizens’ is one of just 11 remaining investor owned electric utilities. This is only possible because of the dedication and commitment of Citizens’ employees, officers and directors to the local community to operate an efficient business, offering safe and reliable electric service at the lowest cost possible.
Matthew S. Whiting, Vice-Chairman
Graham C. Showalter, Secretary
Richard W. Gathman, Member at Large
Robert R. Faux
Gary L. Hennip
Angela S. Joines
Alston A. Teeter
Nathan B. Johnson, Senior Director of Engr. & Oper.
Gene E. Cree, CFO & Treasurer
Brook J. Bogaczyk, Asst. Secretary
Number of Residential Customers: 5,883
Number of Commercial Customers: 1,101
Number of Industrial Customers: 37
Number of Lighting Customers: 35
Total Number of Customers: 7,056
Number of Employees: 17
Service Area Size: 55 Square miles
Circuit Miles: 214
Peak Winter Load (2/20/2015): 51.9 MW
Peak Summer Load (8/8/2007): 38.5 MW
Peak Winter Load (2018): 47.1 MW
Peak Summer Load (2018): 37.8 MW
Annual Purchases (2018): 187,924 MWh
Annual Sales (2018): 178,007 MWh
Governance & Management
Citizens’ Electric Company is wholly owned by C&T Enterprises, Inc. which is an unregulated holding company with its principal office in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. C&T is a jointly-owned subsidiary of Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative (Wysox, PA) and Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative (Mansfield, PA) , which are both member-owned electric cooperatives incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania. Tri-County and Claverack are the sole shareholders of C&T, 50% each.
Citizens’ Electric is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors that is elected annually by the majority shareholder, C&T Enterprises, Inc. The Directors meet on a regular basis for utility updates and to make decisions pertaining to company policies and procedures, carefully balancing the interests of the shareholders and rate payers to ensure safe and reliable electric service at reasonable cost.
Day to day operations are managed by a local management team with extensive utility experience. Citizens’ employees provide the routine services and operations necessary to deliver safe and reliable electric service to homes and businesses within the service territory, including line construction and maintenance, administrative and clerical functions. Complementing Citizens’s staff is a support team from C&T that provides specialty resources including Corporate Safety, Information Technology, Financial Services, Call Center operations, Human Resources, Payroll and Communications support.
C&T also owns Wellsboro Electric Company and Valley Energy. Wellsboro is an electric distribution company serving 6,200 customers in Tioga county and Valley Energy is a natural gas distribution company serving 7,200 customers in Sayre, Athens, Towanda and Monroeton, Pennsylvania. Combined, the C&T family comprises approximately 180 employees dedicated to providing exceptional utility service to 60,000 electric and natural gas consumers.
(Management Team from left to right):
John Kelchner, President & CEO
Gene Cree, CFO & Treasurer
Nate Johnson, Sr. Director of Engineering & Operations
Board of Directors
Alston Teeter, Angela Joines, Graham Showalter, Craig Bennett, Nicholas Reitter,
Gary Hennip, Matthew Whiting, Richard Gathman, Robert Faux.
Citizens’ Electric is one of five utility organizations in the C&T Enterprises, Inc. family. C&T is owned by Claverack REC (Wysox, PA) and Tri-County REC (Mansfield, PA). C&T is also the holding company that owns Citizens’ Electric, Wellsboro Electric and Valley Energy. C&T provides a variety of management services to all the affiliates such as Human Resources, Payroll, IT, Call Center services, Safety and Corporate Communications.
To explore employment opportunities at Citizens’ or any of the affiliates, please visit the C&T Career Possibilities web page.
On March 30, 2017, Citizens’ Electric Company and Wellsboro Electric Company (Company or Companies) submitted their fifth Joint Default Service Plan (DSP-V or Plan) to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for approval. On December 28, 2017, the Commission issued an Opinion and Order on DSP-V. DSP-V governs all wholesale, default power supply purchases for the period June 1, 2018 through May 31, 2021. In accordance with the Plan, the Companies acquire default energy supply for all customers that do not purchase supply from an alternative energy supplier. DSP-V includes all generation and transmission costs as well as all ancillary costs from PJM Interconnection, LLC (the regional transmission operator) that are required to deliver default, wholesale supply to each Company.
Default service pricing is adjusted every six months, based on forward market strip prices, and includes Commission-approved passthrough items such as a supplier administrative adder, taxes and other variable expenses. The Price-to-Compare currently in effect can be found here.
Customers with a peak demand of more than 400 kW are billed real-time hourly market prices plus applicable adders.