May 13, 2014

PUC: Electric Prices To Increase Average Of Over 25% For 6 Of 8 Basic Service Providers

The Public Utility Commission Tuesday alerted consumers that six of the eight default electric service providers in Pennsylvania will be increasing their basic electric prices by an average of over 25 percent starting June 1.  Only two companies-- PPL and PECO-- will see a decrease in electric costs.
“If you have not chosen a competitive supplier, now may be a good time to do so because the price of electricity from the utilities is estimated to increase by as much as 50 percent for some customers,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “Before the heat of summer brings increased electric usage, now is the time for customers to again take stock of their electric bills, review their generation rate and shop for a better price or price stability.”
More than 3.5 million receive their electric generation from their local electric utility, while more than 2.1 million customers are using a competitive electric supplier, according to information compiled by the PUC.
The PUC has created a consumer alert on its website as well as notifying customers of the change.
Click Here for a chart which shows the price changes coming June 1.
The PTC is the price per kilowatt-hour that the electric utility charges. Consumers can use the PTC to evaluate prices from the competitive suppliers at Consumers are encouraged to explore the customer tools at the website.
The utility PTC is not always a stable price and can vary quarterly. Customers looking for more stability in their electric rates can choose a new supplier offering a longer-term, fixed-rate contract, which is an all-inclusive per kWh price that will remain the same for at least three billing cycles or the term of the contract, whichever is longer.
More information on fixed and variable electric rates is available here. Consumers are advised not to sign a contract without knowing the length of the contract, the price, whether it is fixed or variable, and whether there are any early termination fees.
The PUC does not control the price of the generation portion of the utility’s bill, which is being affected by the increase. The generation rate is determined by the wholesale electric market and each individual utility’s independent purchasing plan. The PUC only sets the rate utilities charge to deliver the electricity, also called the distribution rate.
Higher electricity prices have been driven by higher natural gas prices, particularly this winter when natural gas prices spiked causing a jump from $40 per MwH to more than $1,000 MwH for electric. (See April 7 PA Environment Digest)
Because under current regulations it can take between 11 and 40 days to switch electric suppliers, customers who do opt to make a change will still feel the impact of the June 1 utility rate increase.  However, consumers who act now should see their new rate go into effect before the highest usage months of summer.
On April 3, 2014, the PUC approved regulations that require the utility to accelerate switching time frames through off-cycle meter readings that will allow consumers to switch suppliers within three business days once the utility has been notified. The changes are pending before the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
To shop for a cheaper electric service provider now, visit the PUC’s website.