Direct Energy Regulated Services is a subsidiary of Direct Energy Marketing Ltd., providing electricity and natural gas to thousands of businesses and residences in Alberta at regulated rates determined by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). While DERS is an electricity and natural gas provider — having acquired ATCO’s regulated retail services in 2004 — ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric provide natural gas-distribution and wires service, respectively, to DERS’s customers in the province. Those who were previously billed for regulated utilities by ATCO Gas or ATCO Electric now receive billing and customer service from Direct Energy Regulated Services.
Customers in the ATCO Gas North and South territories may pay different rates from one another because DERS is mandated by the Alberta Utilities Commission to procure natural gas for the two territories separately.
Differing weather conditions, consumption rates, and other local characteristics also contribute to differences in rates between the two regions. As of October 2014, the pricing difference between the two service areas was such that a residential customer consuming 9 gigajoules of natural gas would pay $96 in the South Service Territory, while a customer in the North Service Territory with identical consumption would pay $101.
DERS states that the RRO (Regulated Rate Option) rates for electricity are available to businesses and residences that consume less than 250,000 kWh per year. This means that the average household in Alberta consumes approximately 7,600 kWh of electricity per year (slightly more than 3 percent of the maximum RRO consumption), so the vast majority of residential and small business customers have the option of choosing the RRO rate.
DERS’s competitive retail counterpart does business under the parent corporation’s name, Direct Energy. However, it is currently not possible to receive a single combined bill from Direct Energy and Direct Energy Regulated Services for natural gas and electricity services, as they operate as two separate entities and are not allowed to share consumer information with one another due to Canadian law.