May 30, 2014
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today released a two-minute video available on PAPowerSwitch.com, the PUC website and YouTube to educate consumers on what it means to shop for electricity and how to shop.
“When you pay the electric bill for your home or small business, you are actually paying companies for three different services,” a PUC consumer educator says in the video. “Normally, you get your bill from your utility, even if you change suppliers.”
Thevideo explains the three services involved to deliver electricity to residents: generation, transmission and distribution. The supplier – or electric generation service – generates or buys the electricity; the transmission service connects the supplier to the distribution company; and the distribution company, or local utility, delivers the electricity to homes and businesses.
The PUC urges consumers to visit PAPowerSwitch.com and shop around for an electric supplier. Now is the time to shop, as customers of Penn Power, PPL, Duquesne Light, Met-Ed, West Penn Power and Penelec will see price increases as of June 1.
The release of the video follows recent PUC actions to protect consumers from price spikes in extreme weather conditions, especially those with variable-rate products. Two regulations were approved to require more information – stated more clearly – on customers’ electric bills and contract disclosure statements, and to accelerate the time it takes to switch suppliers from 11 to 40 days to as few as three business days. The PUC also has added educational tools to PAPowerSwitch.com aiming to educate shoppers on the differences between fixed and variable rates and how to choose the rate type that’s best for them.
The video explains that the majority of Pennsylvanians are able to choose an alternate supplier, but not all residents may have that option, like those living in municipalities that supply their electricity. For those who do change suppliers, that only effects the generation service, which makes up two-thirds of the bill.
“It is important to remember that if you choose a new supplier, your local distribution utility will not change,” the PUC consumer educator explains. “If the lights go out, you will still call your local utility and they will fix it. They will also continue to send you your electric bill, which will include the generation charge from your new supplier.”
The new video can be found on PAPowerSwitch.com, the PUC website on the Educational Videos page and on the PUC’s YouTube channel. The video is the third in a series of short videos highlighting key aspects of choosing and staying with a competitive supplier, and recent actions taken by the Commission to enhance the shopping experience for consumers. The first video, released March 20, provided information explaining the difference between fixed rates when compared to variable rates. The second video, released April 10, educates consumers on what to do at the end of their electric contract.
Future videos will feature what to look for on a disclosure statement, using the sorting and filtering functionality of the online shopping tool, explaining cancellation fees and ways to save energy. PUC staff produces these videos with existing Commission resources.
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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Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265
(717) 787-5722 FAX (717) 787-4193