PORTLAND, Maine — The Auburn-based power supplier that operates as Electricity Maine has agreed to sell its business and customer base of around 125,000 in Maine and New Hampshire to a Houston energy company for $28 million.
The electricity and natural gas supplier Spark Energy announced in its quarterly earnings report on Friday that it would buy Electricity Maine parent company Provider Power, marking the exit for Electricity Maine founders Kevin Dean and Emile Clavet, who founded the company in 2011.
At that time, the company was able to undercut the standard offer, which customers receive if they do not elect to buy their power from a designated competitive electricity provider.
They were the first to make inroads with residential customers, although deregulation of the state’s electricity market in 2000 allowed competitive providers to start up.
Lower prices and aggressive marketing in radio ads and elsewhere allowed Electricity Maine to quickly amass more than 150,000 customers. At one point in 2012, those efforts led to almost one-third of residential power customers going with competitive providers.
That rapid growth also meant big increases in revenue, making the company in 2014 the fastest-growing energy company in the country, based on revenues it provided to Inc. magazine for the publication’s annual rankings.
That growth tapered off as the company was forced to renege on an earlier promise never to have power prices exceed the standard offer price, determined by energy suppliers who bid with Maine regulators to provide the state’s power supply.
The company in 2013 was required to provide special notice to customers of their rates after regulators raised concerns about radio advertisements that touted prices that remained lower than the standard offer, when they were not lower.
As the company’s rates rose, it refocused marketing on being a local company that supports area nonprofits through its “Power to Change” program, which were power price agreements that included contributions to local charities.
In March, all competitive electricity providers in the state had about 20 percent of the residential supply market, down from a high of about 30 percent two years ago.
Clavet in 2014 told the Bangor Daily News that the company saw its future not in competing with the standard offer but in offering more dynamic pricing models that would charge customers less based on the time of day they used power, for instance.
Kevin Dean told the Lewiston Sun Journal that the purchase would allow the company also to offer natural gas supply alongside electricity. He said Spark would retain all of the company’s current employees in Maine.
Provider Power operates primarily in Maine and New Hampshire and also has customers in Massachusetts.