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Environment & Energy

Energy Bills to Rise, But You Could Save Money

Shopping around could save customers from a 20-50 percent increase on energy bills stating June 1st according to the Public Utility Commission (PUC).

Every quarter energy suppliers are allowed to adjust prices according to how much they are spending.

“It’s not the cost to deliver that electricity to you, that has to be approved by the PUC, but it’s the actual cost of the electricity. They are not permitted to make a profit on that portion of the bill. It’s a dollar per dollar pass through for customers, so they adjust it to make sure that they’re appropriately passing along that cost,” said Jennifer Kocher, press secretary for the PUC.

This past winter is a main reason why prices will rise.

“Some of the electricity that will be sold to customers and used by customers beginning June 1st was purchased during the January Polar Vortex, and that increased prices significantly for some utilities throughout the state,” said First Energy spokesperson, Scott Surgeoner.

The average West Penn Power customers who doesn’t shop around will see their monthly bill jump 32 percent to $77.72. Duquesne Light customers’ bills will increase 11 percent to 92.58 per month.

Also summer tends to be a time where energy bills rise because of air conditioners.

The PUC and most energy suppliers are encouraging customers to shop around on the PUC’s website (Papowerswitch.com). The website provides information such as how to switch suppliers, what factors you should consider before switching, and how much you could save with over 50 companies to choose from.

“Papowerswitch.com provides some choices along the left hand side that narrows that down based upon your needs. As you put what you want out of your ideal contract and narrow those choices it can get you down to a very manageable number to choose from,” said Kocher.

It only takes a few minutes to browse and it could save you around $20-30 per month according to Kocher.

There are some factors that customers might want to consider before switching.

“We caution anyone to read the fine print, and whichever supplier they pick look out for variable rates because some people might see a lower rate at first, but that rate could go up. And you know some energy generation suppliers have a termination fee which can add costs if you decide to change your mind,” said spokesperson for Duquesne Light, Brian Knavish.

Most default providers, such as Duquesne Light and First Energy do not have a termination fee, but prices will fluctuate quarterly according to how much it costs to purchase the energy, although other companies might adjust more frequently.