FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2022
HARRISBURG- Recently, there has been a lot of news about increases in home energy prices both for electric and natural gas supply. Many companies began notifying their customers that the cost of electricity will be increasing beginning June 1 for customers who remain with their utility for what is called “default service”, which is the rate that you are charged if you do not choose a competitive electric supplier.
“Like most Pennsylvanians, I am concerned with the impact that rising energy prices have on consumers’ ability to afford their electricity bills. While we have seen news about recent price increases for non-shopping customers, it is important to remember that your utility does not make money on your default service rate and that while the competitive market may provide some savings for consumers, folks need to be careful to make sure that they know the product terms, fees, and variability of their energy contract if they choose to shop for an alternative provider,” said Acting Consumer Advocate Patrick Cicero.
Shop Smart: If you choose to shop for an alternate supplier, the OCA recommends following these basic tips.
- Consider enrolling in a utility’s standard offer or customer referral program.
- These programs provide a 12-month fixed rate contract that offers 7% off the utility price at the time of your enrollment. Your rate will be fixed, and it will be lower than the utility price at the time you enroll, but the actual percentage of the savings you see may change (or be eliminated) if the price to compare changes in the future. Contact your utility to find out more.
- Do your research to ensure the selected supplier offers the type of service that you want and is licensed to provide service in Pennsylvania.
- We recommend checking the OCA’s natural gas and electric shopping guides or visiting papowerswitch.com and pagasswitch.com. Both are official state hosted and monitored websites. Use their filters to filter for the terms that you want.
- Before signing up for service, learn of any additional fees that may be associated with the contract.
- Looking at the price per kWh is not the only factor. Some suppliers charge additional fees that may include but are not limited to monthly fees, customer charges or early cancellation fees.
- After enrollment, calendar the end of your contract.
- Although suppliers are required by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s regulations to notify customers of the end of their contracts, it is best to keep track of this information to ensure the account is not rolled into a variable or higher rate when the contract expires.
- Stay vigilant with your account.
- Be sure to monitor your monthly electric and natural gas bills to ensure you are being charged the agreed upon rate with your selected supplier.
If you are already enrolled with a natural gas or electric supplier, review your bill and your contract: It is important to understand the contract length, price per unit of usage, cancellation policy, and any additional monthly fees that may be applicable. Detailed information about your contract can be found in your disclosure statement. Review carefully. If you do not know how much you are paying for your energy, contact your utility and ask them whether you are being served by them or a competitive supplier or check your bill.
Contact your utility company to check eligibility for assistance programs: Call your electric and natural gas distribution company to learn more about company-specific assistance that may be available. Some utilities have customer assistance programs, budget billing (which spreads your payments evenly out over the course of the year), usage reduction programs and hardships programs run by community organizations.
Contact our office if you have questions: Our office has a consumer hotline that can assist households who have questions about their energy bills. Call 1-800-684-6560 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the PA Office of Consumer Advocate: The Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) represents the interests of Pennsylvania utility consumers in cases before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), federal agencies and state and federal courts. The OCA uses its resources to help the greatest number of consumers and generally focuses on the needs of residential consumers. Attorneys and staff advocate for Pennsylvanians’ access to reliable, safe and affordable utility service.
Patrick Cicero, Acting Consumer Advocate
Christine Maloni Hoover, Deputy Consumer Advocate
Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
555 Walnut Street, 5th Floor, Forum Place
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1923