PUC Encourages Electric Customers in Southwestern PA to Shop for a Competitive Supplier

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged electric customers in southwestern Pennsylvania to consider shopping for a competitive electric supplier in order to realize potential savings opportunities and to view offers for renewable-energy products.

"The PUC is committed to consumer choice and equipping consumers with all relevant information to take advantage of competitive options in the retail electric market," said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. "More than 2 million customers in Pennsylvania have already switched to a competitive electric generation supplier (EGS), but that number has declined in southwestern PA in recent months. We want to remind these customers that there are options available that may benefit them."

While "shopping" numbers have recently increased in the eastern part of the state, the number of customers enrolled with an EGS in southwestern Pennsylvania dropped in March and April – impacting the service territories of Duquesne Light Company (Duquesne), West Penn Power Company (West Penn Power) and Pennsylvania Power Company (Penn Power). This drop coincides with the exit of one of the largest EGSs in the region, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), from the competitive market. FES served customers throughout the state – with a robust customer base in southwestern Pennsylvania – but no longer offers retail products to residential customers.

In March and April, Duquesne saw a decrease of 29,761 customers in the competitive market. West Penn Power’s shopping customers decreased by 6,340 and Penn Power’s numbers declined by 3,297. Currently, 36.3 percent of statewide customers are enrolled with an EGS, while competitive suppliers occupy 64.4 percent of the state’s total load or capacity.

The Commission reminds customers that other EGSs are available in this region. To make the shopping process more user-friendly, the Commission recently upgraded PAPowerSwitch.com, its inclusive, consumer-focused website on electric shopping.

"The Commission continues to upgrade its website to make it a ‘one-stop shop’ for electric shopping – with consumer-friendly information about what it means to shop, how to save money, the different types of rates and products and where to begin when comparing offers," said Chairman Powelson. "Our recent upgrades are timely, given the potential for new opportunities in southwestern Pennsylvania. We strongly encourage customers to visit PAPowerSwitch.com to find potential savings options and renewable energy products – we have made it easier than ever to shop."

New PAPowerSwitch upgrades include:

  • Easier navigation on a streamlined homepage;
  • A zip code search on the homepage, leading to a graphic snapshot about savings opportunities, rates and options in a specific area;
  • Larger and brighter consumer alerts on the homepage, notifying viewers of upcoming default rate changes and other pertinent reminders;
  • A prominent "Education" button, directing users to videos and information about switching power, understanding your bill, how to choose a supplier, fixed and variable rates and consumer rights and protections; and
  • A "Ways to Save" button, guiding consumers to a factual page on opportunities to conserve energy and save money.

The upgrades also are reflected on the mobile version of PAPowerSwitch.

To get started and learn about what it means to shop, consumers can view the PUC’s short educational video, "Shopping for an Electric Supplier," on the PAPowerSwitch Educational Videos page. Consumers are urged to confirm who their electric supplier is, double-check the terms and conditions of their contract and use PAPowerSwitch.com to assess their options and find potential savings.

Consumers are advised not to enter into a transaction with a supplier without knowing the length of the contract, the price, whether it is fixed or variable and if there are any early termination fees. Customers on a variable rate are subject to fluctuations in the price of their electric consumption. Information on fixed and variable electric rates is available here.

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 additional information, press releases,  and tips from the PUC, please visit their Website at: www.puc.pa.gov.

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