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PUC: Summer heat means higher electric bills; Check energy conservation, supplier info

With the start of summer heat, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reminds consumers that now is the time to take control of your electric bill by ...

With the start of summer heat, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reminds consumers that now is the time to take control of your electric bill by implementing energy conservation measures and double checking your electric supply pricing and contract.

“The rise in temperatures and humidity means we also ramp up our energy use as we turn on our air conditioners and fans,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “Now is the time to take a look around the house and make simple changes to conserve energy.”

The PUC offers a variety of conservation tips and information, from using heat-producing appliances like dryers at night to avoid heating up the house, to weather-stripping all doors. Information also is available on how to save money on your summer electric bill without spending money.

Statewide, more than 2.1 million customers receive their electricity from a competitive electric supplier, according to information compiled by the PUC. The “price to compare” (PTC) for the electric utilities changed as of June 1. The PTC is the price per kilowatt-hour that the electric utility charges. Consumers can use the PTC to evaluate prices from the competitive suppliers at www.PAPowerSwitch.com.

“Preparing for the higher electric bills associated with summer also means it is also a good time to take a close look at your electric bill,” Chairman Powelson said. “Confirm who your electric supplier is, double check the terms and conditions of your contract and use PAPowerSwitch.com to evaluate your options. You could save money on your electric bill.”

Information on the types of contracts being offered by competitive suppliers, such as fixed and variable electric rates, is available here. Consumers are advised not to sign a contract without knowing the length of the contract, the price, whether it is fixed or variable, and whether there are any early termination fees.

Because under current regulations it can take between 11 and 40 days to switch electric suppliers, customers who do opt to make a change will still feel the impact of the June 1 utility rate increase. However, consumers who act now should see their new rate go into effect before the highest usage months of summer.

On April 3, 2014, the PUC approved regulations that require the utility to accelerate switching time frames through off-cycle meter readings, which will allow consumers to switch suppliers within three business days once the utility has been notified. The changes should go into effect in 2015.

The PUC does not control the price of the generation portion of the utility’s bill. The generation rate is determined by the wholesale electric market and each individual utility’s independent purchasing plan. The PUC only sets the utility’s distribution rate, or the charge to deliver the electricity.

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.