Energy
4:06 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Lawmaker Wants to Protect Customers' Electric Bills From Spikes

When the temperatures dropped across North America this winter, many Pennsylvanian’s saw their electricity bill skyrocket because they had contracts with their electric supplier that allowed for variable rates. Now a state senator hopes her legislation will help to protect consumers from unexpected spikes in the future.

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton County) introduced legislation Wednesday that would among other things shorten the time it takes to switch from one rate plan to another. 

“Currently it takes up to 45 days to switch electric suppliers,” said Boscola. “My legislation calls for switching to take no longer than five business days.”

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is believed to be writing new rules that would further reduce the time to three days.

Senate Bill 1297 also mandates what Boscola calls “clear and reliable pricing information.” 

Even before the cold snap hit, rumors of customers having their rate plans swapped unknowingly were circulating around the state. 

"My legislation would require the supplier to verify through person-to-person contact that the customer is requesting a variable-rate plan and inform the purchaser that the variable-rate plan is uncapped, how it is derived, and other terms and conditions,” Boscola said.

Boscola’s bill would also force electricity providers to warn a customer with at least two letters if their current fixed-rate rate plan is expiring and rolling over to a variable-rate plan.