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Lawmakers target power supply woes

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Two state lawmakers want to introduce legislation aimed at speeding up the process of switching power suppliers.

Rep. Robert Godshall, R-53, Hatfield, and Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-18, Bethlehem, have circulated co-sponsorship memos for legislation that would reduce the 16 to 45 days it can take to change power suppliers. This lag time has left customers paying high power bills after already deciding to switch suppliers, the legislators said.

Godshall said he has heard stories from constituents and colleagues who report customers signing up for a low 6-cent-per-kWh power rate, only to have that rate expire after a month and jump to as high as 30 cents per kWh.

“While I understand variable rates are subject to change based upon changes in the wholesale electric market, additional information must be provided to consumers so that they know exactly what they are signing up for,” he wrote in his sponsorship memo. “I fully support the concept of electric competition but believe that the current process can be improved to provide additional consumer protections to mitigate future occurrences of ‘rate shock.’”

Godshall’s legislation would also include significant consumer protections. That includes requiring specific information be contained in all supplier contracts and that this information is provided in an easily readable and understandable manner, he said.

His bill also would place a cap on the amount by which a rate may change under a variable rate contract, prohibit cancellation and early termination fees for variable rate contracts and require the posting of current and historic rates on the PA Power Switch website.

Boscola’s measure would focus only on the time it takes to switch suppliers.

“My legislation would direct the (Public Utility Commission) to develop regulations to shorten the current time frame for switching suppliers, not to exceed one billing cycle,” she wrote in her sponsorship memo.

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