A state senator has introduced legislation aimed at controlling electric rate bill spikes while the state Public Utility Commission is seeking comment on a plan to shorten the time it takes to switch energy suppliers.
Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem, put forth SB 1297, which would call on the PUC to mandate stronger consumer notification requirements for electric suppliers that offer variable rate deals, according to a news release from Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa. Boscola said many people do not understand or anticipate the potentially huge price swings that can occur as part of variable rate deals.
The text of the bill has not been posted to the state General Assembly’s website, a staffer from Boscola’s office said. A copy of Boscola’s co-sponsorship memo can be read here.
Part of Boscola’s bill also would require the PUC to adopt regulations that would shorten the waiting period before people can switch retail electric suppliers. Currently, consumers have to wait up to 45 days. Boscola’s legislation would cut the waiting period to not exceed five business days.
Meanwhile, the PUC is working on a proposal on switching that would require an even shorter waiting period. The regulations would include requiring the electric distribution companies to accelerate switching time frame to only three days, according to a news release.
To do this, the PUC proposes distributors read meters off the billing cycle. Covering that expense would be addressed the next time each distribution company seeks a rate change from the PUC, according to the release.
As of March 14, more than 12,280 consumers had contacted the commission complaining about price spikes and, specifically, the time it takes to switch suppliers, according to a news release. Of those, more than 4,775 consumers have filed informal complaints with the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services.
Comments are due by March 25 and can be sent to P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265; or by e-filing on the commission website.
An electronic courtesy copy of all comments also should be emailed to the Office of Competitive Market Oversight, the commission’s electric retail choice ombudsman, at RA-OCMO@pa.gov.