PUC Again Reminds Shopping Consumers to Review Contracts, Higher Wholesale Energy Market Prices Could Equal Higher Prices for Those on Variable Rates
Published on 2/14/2014
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) urges customers using a competitive supplier to review their contract as wholesale energy prices have been pushed higher due to cold temperatures and high demand.
Customers with variable contracts or those with fixed contracts that have expired and were moved to a variable rate may see their prices increase. Some prices for those on variable rates may have already increased.
The PUC has created a consumer alert on its website as well as www.PAPowerSwitch.com urging customers to contact their supplier; check their contracts; evaluate competitive offers; sign up for budget billing, a payment arrangement or assistance programs; and conserve energy.
The PUC is seeing higher prices in the wholesale energy markets, which could translate into higher prices for some customers who have contracts with competitive suppliers that allow for prices to change. Consumers should check the terms and conditions they received when they enrolled with the competitive supplier or call the supplier to check the status of their prices.
Contacting your competitive supplier: Consumers should contact their supplier to confirm the accuracy of the price and ask the supplier if any alternative products are available that may reduce future billings.
Exploring choices on the competitive market: If a consumer is dissatisfied with the price of their current offer, www.PAPowerSwitch.com allows consumers to shop for a new product.
Signing up for budget billing: Utilities are required by regulation to provide customers a budget-billing option that will spread out high bills over the course of the year. Budget billing results in a more predictable monthly payment that reflects the “average” bill during the course of a year.
Setting up a Payment Arrangement: Consumers can contact their utility if they are having difficulty paying their bill and ask for a payment arrangement. Payment arrangements are usually based upon the customer’s ability to pay, payment history and size of the unpaid balance. The agreement can spread the unpaid bills over a period of months or years depending upon the circumstances as determined by the utility, and will protect the customer from service termination as long as the payments are made as agreed. A consumer who cannot obtain a payment agreement to their satisfaction can file an informal complaint with the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Services by calling 1-800-692-7380.
Exploring options for low-income consumers: Low-income consumers should contact their utility and ask about assistance programs that may be available. This includes Customer Assistance Programs (CAP) where the customer pays a discounted amount and various hardship funds that provide grants. Low-income consumers should also apply for a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Plan grant through the state Department of Public Welfare.
Conserving Energy: Cold temperatures and increased use of heating systems will translate into higher energy bills. Additional energy conservation tips are available on the PUC website.
Consumers who feel the competitive supplier they are using has violated the PUC’s regulations on marketing practices are encouraged to call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380 to file a complaint or go to the PUC website.
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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