Gulf Oil has announced plans to get into the electricity business in Maine, going head-to-head with the 14-month-old Lewiston-Auburn-based Electricity Maine.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the Framingham, Mass.-based fuel supplier and operator of the Cumberland Farms chain of convenience stores has already begun enrolling Maine customers online.
On price, the paper reported, Gulf Electricity and Electricity Maine will be competing almost on par, with rates within 50 cents of each other for an average homeowner using 521 kilowatt hours a month. Electricity Maine charges 7.07 cents per kilowatt hour and guarantees customers that price for a year. Gulf's website says it will charge 6.99 cents per kilowatt hour and that will be a variable rate.
Electricity Maine has enrolled 150,000 customers since starting, a number that includes nearly one-fourth of Central Maine Power's residential customers.
Kevin Dean, co-owner of Electricity Maine, called Gulf's move to Maine "great for the consumers of Maine."
"Choice is great," he said. "Ten years from now when you look at power . . . it will be no different than your home heating oil or those kinds of things. You make the best decision for you."
However, Dean pointed out that Electricity Maine locks in its rate for a year while Gulf advertises its rate as variable. He also noted that Electricity Maine is a local company.
"Gulf is yet another company from a different state," he said. "I think the people of Maine will value the fact that we're creating local jobs and supporting the local economy and will overall prefer buying from a local business."
Dean said Electricity Maine has no plans to lower its price to match Gulf's.
To break into the new market, Gulf Oil may market the new electricity service through its gas station locations around the state, the Press Herald reported. It is currently running a contest for those who sign up for its service. The grand prize is a year's worth of supplied electricity.
Electricity Maine has been running a similar contest for months.
"It would be more interesting if they came up with their own fresh ideas rather than copying ours," Dean said.
Sun Journal Staff Writer Lindsay Tice contributed to this article.