HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded consumers shopping for electricity to be aware of expiring electric supplier contracts and the associated terms and conditions.
“Just as with cable television or cell phone service, when your initial contract with an electric supplier expires, the provider may begin to change your rates,” said Commission Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “The price changes that may occur with that contract expiration can be avoided by periodically reviewing your agreement just as you do with other services around the house and shopping for other options. PAPowerSwitch.com is our easy resource for consumers to keep track of electric generation supply offers.”
Commissioner Wayne E. Gardner said: “Customers can save real money by shopping for an alternative electricity supplier. That being said, customers should always educate themselves regarding the basics of their contracts terms: What’s the price, how long is that price good for, and is there a fee if I want to cancel for a better deal.”
The Commission is hearing from consumers who had locked in electric generation prices for a year or more and who are now experiencing price changes. This is happening because when some fixed term contracts expire, customers remain with the supplier on a month-to-month basis at variable prices. However, after the contract expires, the consumer is free to leave at any time without penalty.
To avoid being surprised by electric price changes, the Commission urges consumers to:
- Do periodic electric price checks – When you sign up with a competitive supplier, mark the calendar about a month before the expiration of the contract so you can check new offers in the marketplace and, if necessary, shop again.
- Pay attention to supplier mailings – Suppliers are required under PUC regulations to notify you prior to the expiration of your contract and let you know what your options are. Use this as the opportunity to review the new terms and, if necessary, shop.
- Use PAPowerSwitch.com as a resource – You can sign up for weekly email alerts that notify you of the current market prices. These also serve as a good reminder to keep tabs on your electric prices.
- Know what you are signing – Competitive suppliers may market door-to-door or by telephone. Ask for the price and other terms and conditions. Know and understand how it compares to your utility price. Only share account information over the phone if you are ready to make a switch. Do not feel pressured to make any decisions on the door step or over the phone.
- Call the PUC with concerns, problems – The PUC has regulations in place that provide direction to electric suppliers on marketing and consumer interaction. If you have concerns or are experiencing a problem, call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380 so we can be aware of issues.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility. “Like” PAPowerSwitch on Facebook for easy access to information on electric shopping.
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