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Chris Weston, CEO of Direct Energy in Canada. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Chris Weston, CEO of Direct Energy in Canada. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Direct Energy quits Toronto for Houston Add to ...

Direct Energy is moving its head office from Toronto to Houston, citing “thriving” and competitive energy markets in Texas and the northeastern United States and the failure of Ontario to open up.

The company, which has been based in Toronto for more than a decade, said it will take a year to 18 months to complete the move. About 500 jobs will be affected, said spokeswoman Hillary Marshall. About 300 of those jobs will be recreated in Texas, and some Canadians will be asked to relocate but “that will be limited.”

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Many of Direct Energy’s operations are already based in Texas, where the company now employs more than 2,000 people.

“The relocation of our corporate head office to Houston will allow us to focus our attention on growth opportunities in the U.S. where competitive energy markets are thriving, particularly in Texas and the U.S. northeast region,” chief executive officer Chris Weston said in a statement.

“Over the last decade, Direct Energy has successfully pursued both acquisitive and organic growth in the U.S., entering more than 20 new markets in the last 12 months, and we will continue this strategy into 2012.”

Ms. Marshall did not mince words in an interview Friday, saying the company has advocated for change in Ontario for a decade.

Direct Energy wants the wholesale market opened fully to competition, and consumers allowed to make a choice, she said.

“The rates are regulated and the market still is utility-dominated,” Ms. Marshall said.

“We've invested over $1-billion in acquisitions over the past 18 months, and that's capital that's going to continue to follow competitive energy markets,” she added.

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