PUC Highlights Summer #SaveInPA Opportunities to Help Manage Summer Energy Usage and Utility Bills
Published on 6/26/2023
Filed under: Electric
Electric Shopping Combined with Increased Energy Efficiency & Conservation Can Generate Notable Monthly Savings on Summer Bills
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is highlighting #SaveInPA opportunities to help millions of consumers manage summer energy usage and utility bills – including shopping with competitive suppliers, which could result in substantial savings on the energy portion of their monthly electric bills, as well as identifying ways to increase energy efficiency and conserve energy, especially during high-usage times.
The PUC’s electric shopping website, PAPowerSwitch.com, currently reflects offers from competitive suppliers in many parts of Pennsylvania well below the electric generation price available from many utilities. Because energy costs typically make up more than half a total utility bill, lower energy prices can have a noticeable impact on the size of monthly bills.
With the summer cooling season underway, now is a prime opportunity for consumers to review their monthly bills, assess energy usage and rates, and evaluate their options to manage energy costs and reduce the potential impact of higher summer usage.
#SaveInPA – Where Can I Save, and How Much?
According to a recent sampling of supplier offers posted on the PUC’s electric shopping website – PAPowerSwitch.com – there are substantial #SaveInPA benefits for consumer energy costs, depending on their utility service territory, potentially benefitting more than 4 million Pennsylvania households which currently do not use competitive energy suppliers.
The Commission noted that the greatest potential savings – ranging from 20% to 40% – are currently available in the service territories for PPL, PECO, and Duquesne Light (subject to changes in market prices). Collectively, those utilities serve many of the state’s largest communities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, along with many of their suburbs, as well as Allentown, Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Scranton.
The top service territories where short-term (three-month, fixed-rate, with no added fees) and long-term (12-month or longer, fixed-rate, with no added fees) supplier offers are substantially below the utility generation rate:
- PPL – Supplier prices are as much as 22% lower for long-term contracts and 38% lower for short-term contracts.
- Duquesne Light – Supplier prices are as much as 21% lower for long-term contracts and 37% lower for short-term contracts.
- PECO – Supplier prices are as much as 26% lower for long-term contracts and 40% lower for short-term contracts.
In each of these areas, potential savings are large enough to make a very noticeable impact in monthly electric bills – with estimated savings ranging from $18 to $32 per month for the average customer.
Elsewhere across the state, prices vary between suppliers and region, but average savings are still considerable:
- The average short-term savings is 28%.
- The average long-term savings is 18%.
The largest savings are typically available in the areas where current utility generation prices are the highest, but not all offers are available in all service territories.
What is Electric Shopping?
In most areas of Pennsylvania, residents can choose who supplies their electricity, based on price or other factors. For consumers who do not shop for energy supply, the Commonwealth’s electric utilities obtain power on their behalf. This is known as the “Price to Compare” (PTC) and can be used as a baseline to compare with offers from competitive suppliers.
Utilities reset their PTCs two to four times per year, using a procurement process overseen by the PUC. The electric utility in effect “shops” for those customers, and energy costs are passed along to all non-shopping customers. By law, utilities cannot make a profit on electric generation, as generation costs are simply passed through to utility customers.
It is important to note that these energy generation prices are separate from the closely regulated rates that utilities charge for their distribution services – the delivery of electricity to homes.
How Can I Shop?
Consumers can use the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch.com energy shopping website to explore and compare other offers from competitive energy suppliers which may provide savings compared to their utility’s default service rate.
The website provides consumers with valuable information on how to shop for electric supply services – enabling consumers to quickly compare offers from competitive suppliers against the default service rate from their local utility and learn more on switching to a competitive supplier, switching to a different competitive supplier, or returning to default service, should they choose.
Another alternative for default service customers not participating in the competitive electricity market may be their utility’s 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 current 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.
Note: Standard Offer may not be always available in all utility service territories. Consumers should contact their utility or visit their utility’s website for more information or to enroll in a Standard Offer program.
What Should I Look For?
It is important for every utility customer to understand what they are paying for electric generation supply, either through default service from their electric utility or a contract with a competitive energy generation supplier.
Key questions to ask include:
- How do competitive suppliers’ rates compare with the utility’s Price to Compare?
- Is the supplier contract for a fixed or variable rate – and if the rate is variable, what are the conditions of changes in the price for electricity?
- Does the contract provide for additional fees – such as an enrollment fee or early contract termination fees?
- When will the contract expire – and what are the options for consumers as the contract end date approaches?
Consumers are advised not to sign a contract without knowing the length of the contract, the price, whether it is fixed or variable and if there are any fees. Information on fixed and variable electric rates is available on the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch website.
Consumers who have questions or disputes with an electric generation supplier or their utility may contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380. More information on understanding a contract with an electric generation supplier and electric switching can be found on PAPowerSwitch.com.
Managing Energy Usage
Additionally, consumers are encouraged to learn more about energy savings tips for managing energy costs. Energy usage is a key factor in the size of summer energy bills, and there are many ways that consumers can control that usage. Energy saving tips include:
- Pay attention to the thermostat – Every degree you raise or lower the temperature could impact energy costs by up to 3%. Also, consider a programmable thermostat to automatically raise temperatures while you are away from home.
- Have your air conditioner serviced – Regular air conditioner maintenance along with clean air filters help ensure efficient operation of your cooling system.
- Insulate and seal leaks around your home – Adding insulation, installing storm windows and doors, and sealing cracks and air leaks can help you stay cooler and use less energy.
- Install or repair ceiling fans in high-trafficked rooms – Use ceiling fans to circulate the air, keeping the room cooler.
- Protect windows to reduce heat buildup – Smart landscaping and exterior window coverings are just two ways that you can better protect windows and reduce the impact of heat buildup in your home.
PAPowerSwitch.com has interactive sections with more easy consumer tips for saving energy.
About the PUC
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” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.
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