Pennsylvania state Senator Lisa Boscola’s energy choice forum draws crowd

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Pennsylvania State Senator Boscola and other state senators have drafted an amendment to regulations that directs the Commission to enact regulations to shorten the supplier switch time.


Written by Sara K. Satullo

Easton resident Gary DiPasquale was enticed to switch electricity generation suppliers by the promise of the best rate possible.

And for the first three months he paid a great rate of 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour, he said. What DiPasquale didn’t realize was that he had signed on to a variable electric rate that was about to jump to 47 cents per kilowatt hour.

“I think that’s exorbitant,” DiPasquale told state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton/Lehigh/Monroe, during an energy choice public forum. “There has to be a cap somewhere.”

In February, DiPasquale’s electric bill for one of his properties was $152.86. The next month it clocked in at $645.68. DiPasquale was lucky he was able to get out of his contract without paying a hefty cancellation fee.

“It’s pretty shocking,” he said as he paged through electric bills.

DiPasquale is not alone. He is just one of Pennsylvania’s many residents who saw their electric bills skyrocket this winter during a perfect storm of energy choice.

Variable rates shot up this winter because demand for power was way above normal and temperatures were quite cold, Hixson said. This drove up the cost for suppliers, that were buying power on the market in real time, that they passed onto consumers.

Some Pennsylvanians didn’t realize they were signing up for a variable electric rate and they were shocked when rates skyrocketed. Others didn’t act when their fixed-rate contract expired and were automatically locked into a month-to-month variable rate, said Heather Yoder, of the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate.

This has led Boscola and other state senators to draft an amendment to the Public Utility Code that directs the PUC to enact regulations to shorten the supplier switch time as well as several notification requirements. Officials are hopeful changes are enacted by next winter, Hixson said.

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