Electricity cost increase goes into effect today
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is alerting consumers that most utilities will be adjusting their prices for electric generation on June 1 - cautioning that many nonshopping (default service) customers will see sharp increases in energy costs as summer approaches, ranging between 6% and 45% depending on their electric utility.
PPL’s current rate of 8.941 cents per kilowatt hour will increase to 12.366 per kilowatt hour. That’s an increase of 38%.
Met-Ed will rise from 6.832 to 7.936, an increase of 16.1%.
Pennsylvania’s regulated electric utilities routinely adjust, either quarterly or biannually, the default service price they charge nonshopping customers for electric generation. This price, also known as the “Price to Compare” is what consumers use to compare prices and potential savings among competitive electric generation suppliers.).
The PUC encourages consumers to carefully review their electric bills to understand the rates they will be paying - and explore the PUC’s official electric shopping website, PAPowerSwitch.com, for details on competitive offers, along with tips for energy conservation and savings.
Currently, higher wholesale market prices for electricity, fueled in large part by shifts in supply and demand for natural gas, have increased purchasing costs for electric distribution companies and thus driven up many prices to compare.
By law, utilities cannot make a profit on electric generation, as generation costs are simply passed through to utility 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.
One option consumers may want to explore immediately is their utility’s voluntary Standard Offer Program - which is another alternative for default service customers not participating in the competitive electricity market.
Standard Offer provides 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. There may not be participating suppliers in all areas.
After exploring the Standard Offer, consumers may want to lock in a discount with their utility’s current price to compare - which could amount to future savings with price to compare increases. Residential and small commercial customers can find out more information and enroll in the Standard Offer Program by contacting their electric utility.
Consumers and small businesses can also use the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch energy shopping website to explore and compare other offers from competitive energy suppliers which may provide savings compared to their utility’s default service rate. The 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.
Review your bill to understand what you are paying for electric generation supply, either through default service from the 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?
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.
For small-business customers, the PUC notes that most electric distribution companies are also adjusting their prices to compare in their small commercial and industrial rate classes. Default service rates for small businesses are increasing on June 1 - ranging from an increase of 20.8% in the PPL service territory to a 55.6% increase in West Penn Power’s service territory.
Beat the heat
You can save energy and money, even in extreme heat, by following some tips from PPL:
• Make sure drapes and shades are pulled down during the day to block the hot sun.
• Wear light clothing and set your thermostat between 72 and 78 degrees. You will save energy for every degree higher you can set your thermostat. The federal Department of Energy recommends 78 degrees.
• Minimize the use of heat-generating appliances like dishwashers, stoves, washers and dryers during the warmest hours of the day.
• Incandescent light bulbs also produce heat, so switching to cooler and more efficient LED bulbs is a smart choice.
• Ceiling fans are economical and cost far less to use than air conditioners but use them only in occupied rooms because they work on the wind-chill effect to cool people. Plus, using a ceiling fan lets you raise the temperature setting on your thermostat by one to three degrees.