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New electricity group to save 200 poultry growers $1M

Annie Ropeik/Delaware Public Media
Poultry houses in Farmington.

A new electricity buying group is set to save 200 area poultry growers more than $1 million combined in the next three years.

They'll buy the power from Virginia-based WGL Energy for a cheaper rate than Delmarva Power's. It's the seventh such buying group created by Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., a regional trade group.


DPI director Bill Satterfield says this is their best deal yet.

"Electricity is the biggest operating cost that chicken costs generally have," he says. "So this could be a tremendous savings as for a number of growers."


Satterfield says the biggest driver of electricity use is ventilation: "the fans to keep fresh air in the houses, to keep the temperatures at the right level," he says. "But with new technology and computers and all that, that raises the electric consumption, no doubt about it."

DPI began helping some of its smaller members -- including chicken and grain growers and small businesses -- seek cheaper electric rates in 2006. That was when Delaware changed its laws to allow consumers a choice of power supplier. The energy still comes through Delmarva Power infrastructure.

Satterfield says the poultry industry didn't lobby directly for the change, but it's been a big boon over the years. The WGL deal is the cheapest and longest-term they've negotiated so far.


He notes that the biggest players -- like Mountaire and Perdue Farms' processing plants -- can afford to cut their own power deals, and aren't part of DPI's buying group.


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