HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today finalized regulation changes that dramatically reduce the time it takes customers to change electricity suppliers.
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the regulations that require the electric distribution company (EDCs) to accelerate switching time frames through off-cycle meter readings that will allow consumers to switch suppliers within three business days once the EDC has been notified. EDCs are required to implement the changes within six months of the new regulations becoming final. Cost recovery for implementation would be addressed in each EDC’s next base rate proceeding.
“It’s a huge needle-mover because we want customers to be able to be portable and be able to get into new products and not be trapped in what we call the 16- to 40-day billing cycle,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson in a video news release. “At the end of the day, this is about helping consumers that are actively out there on the market shopping by giving them greater portability, greater notification of the products that they’re being served by suppliers.”
The regulations must be approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, Attorney General’s Office, Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and House Consumer Affairs Committee before going into effect.
The Commission launched the expedited rulemaking proceeding on March 17, 2014, by asking for comments. The Commission viewed the current time it takes for consumers to switch suppliers as unfavorable to those consumers who may wish to move away from an existing rate or onto a new rate under certain market conditions.
In February and March 2014, more than 9,137 consumers have contacted the Commission with concerns about electric supply prices, many of whom expressed frustration with the time it take to change suppliers. Of those, more than 5,732 consumers have filed informal complaints with the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services.
Under current regulations, it can take between 11 and 40 days to switch electric suppliers, whether changing suppliers or moving to or from the utility for electric supply. The current switching timeframes reflect changes made as a part of the PUC’s Retail Markets Investigation. Those changes reduced the switching timeframe by five days.
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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Docket No. L-2014-2409383