PUC Urges Consumers to ‘Prepare Now’ for Winter Utility Bills, Evaluate Energy Options as December Brings Price Changes on Electric Generation
As part of its annual “Prepare Now” education campaign, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged consumers to evaluate energy options with competitive suppliers as most electric utilities will adjust electric generation prices on December 1 for non-shopping, or default service, customers.
“The upcoming price changes, combined with falling temperatures, makes this a very good time for consumers to evaluate their energy options and potentially lock-in savings for the coming months,” said PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “We encourage consumers to carefully review their electric bills, understand the rates they will be paying if they stay with default service, and then explore the PUC’s official electric shopping website - PAPowerSwitch.com - for details on competitive offers, along with tips for energy conservation and savings.”
In most areas of Pennsylvania, consumers can choose who supplies their electricity, based on price or other factors, such as renewable energy.
Customers not choosing a supplier continue to receive default service from the utility, with the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) set quarterly or semiannually based on PUC approved electric generation procurement plans. The PUC, however, does not control the price of the generation portion of the electric bill.
PAPowerSwitch.com, the PUC’s nationally recognized website for electric choice, provides consumers with valuable information on how to shop for electric supply services. The website enables consumers to quickly compare offers from competitive suppliers.
Beginning on December 1, electric distribution companies that will have changes in their Prices to Compare (PTCs) include:
- Penelec, with an increase from 5.198 cents to 6.445 cents per kWh, a 24% increase;
- Penn Power, with an increase from 6.231 cents to 7.572 cents per kWh, a 21.5% increase;
- Met-Ed, with an increase from 5.667 cents to 6.51 cents per kWh, a 14.9% increase;
- Wellsboro Electric, with an estimated increase from 6.5735 cents to 7.335 cents per kWh, an 11.6% increase;
- Citizens’ Electric, with an estimated increase from 6.5016 cents to 7.0986 cents per kWh, an 8% increase.
- West Penn Power, with an increase from 5.338 cents to 5.76 cents per kWh, a 7.9% increase;
- PPL, with an increase from 7.585 cents to 7.632 cents per kWh, less than 1% increase;
Other electric utilities, including UGI, Duquesne Light and PECO, project decreases in their estimated PTCs of 6.3%, 4.2% and 1.4%, respectively, though the PUC still encourages customers to explore their options in those service areas.
For default service customers not participating in the competitive electricity market, Chairman Brown Dutrieuille noted Pennsylvania’s regulated utilities offer a voluntary Standard Offer Program (Standard Offer) - providing those customers with the option of receiving service from a competitive supplier at a fixed-price that is 7% below the utility’s PTC. The Standard Offer price is fixed for one year and can be canceled by the customer at any time with no early cancellation or termination fees.
“We have found that the Standard Offer can be a ‘win-win’ for the electric shopper and supplier alike,” Chairman Brown Dutrieuille said. “The customer benefits with potential savings on electric generation over the course of a year, with no added fees and little or no risk, while the supplier gains a new customer now actively participating in the competitive retail market.”
In addition to informing consumers about resources available to shop for energy suppliers, the PUC’s 2019 Prepare Now campaign continues to focus on educating consumers about the availability of low-income assistance programs; ways to reduce winter heating costs; energy conservation; and encouraging consumers to check their electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts.
In September of this year, the PUC advanced two major proposals focused on lowering the maximum “energy burden” for low-income Customer Assistance Program (CAP) participants and ensuring effective and efficient utility programs for vulnerable consumers. While those changes will go into effect in the coming years, Commissioners stressed in a recent letter to electric and natural gas utility companies under PUC jurisdiction that education and consumer outreach remain the most direct actions utilities can take immediately to increase participation in vital assistance programs before winter weather descends on the state.