What are you paying for electricity? Should you shop around?       

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HARRISBURG – As winter winds down, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission continues encouraging consumers to monitor energy costs and explore ways to conserve and save – including comparing prices for electric generation and evaluating competitive supplier offers.

The PUC notes that, as on March 1, 2022, five of Pennsylvania’s major electric distribution companies have adjusted their prices to compare (PTCs) on electric generation for default service or “non-shopping” customers. 

The PTC averages 40% to 60% of the customer’s total utility bill. However, this percent varies by utility and by the level of individual customer usage.

The Commission urges consumers to carefully review their electric bills, understand the energy prices they will be paying if they stay with default service, and then explore the PUC’s official electric shopping website – PAPowerSwitch.com – for details on competitive offers, along with tips for energy conservation and savings.

The PUC notes that the Commission does not regulate prices for the generation portion of electric bills. For those customers that do not shop, electric utilities obtain default generation service using a procurement process overseen by the PUC – the electric utility in effect “shops” for the customer. Generation prices are separate from the closely regulated rates that utilities charge for their distribution services – the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses.

“Price to Compare” Changes for Residential Customers

In most areas of Pennsylvania, consumers can choose who supplies their electricity, based on price or other factors, such as renewable energy.

Beginning March 1, the following EDCs have adjusted their PTCs for residential customers:

Met-Ed, down from 7.414 cents to 6.832 cents per kWh (-7.8%);

PECO, up slightly from 7.023 cents to 7.066 cents per kWh (0.6%);

Penelec, down from 6.507 cents to 6.232 cents per kWh (-4.2%);

Penn Power, down from 7.593 cents to 7.082 cents per kWh (-6.7%); and

West Penn Power, down slightly from 5.698 cents to 5.667 cents per kWh (-0.5%).

For small business customers, the PUC notes that many EDCs are also adjusting their PTCs in their small commercial rate classes.

Standard Offer Program

As another alternative for default service customers not participating in the competitive electricity market, Pennsylvania’s regulated utilities offer a voluntary Standard Offer Program 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.

Residential and small commercial customers can find out more information and enroll in the Standard Offer Program by contacting their electric utility.

Customer Review of Electric Bills and Supplier Contracts

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 membership or early contract termination fees?

When will the contract expire – and what are the options for consumers as the contract end date approaches?

The PUC’s PAPowerSwitch energy shopping website provides consumers and small businesses 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, or returning to default service, should they choose.

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.