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Environment & Energy
Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Pennsylvanians Have Plenty Of Options For Electric Suppliers, Report Shows

Pennsylvanians are more willing than many other Americans when it comes to switching electric suppliers.

According to a North American report, Pennsylvania is the second best state, trailing only Texas, for residential, commercial and industrial electric competition.

The Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS) ranks the 16 states and two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Alberta, that have electric supply markets in terms of competition and consumer awareness of their options.

Pennsylvanians have had at least some choice of their supplier since 1997. Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, press secretary for the Public Utility Commission, said customer choice has been evolving over the years and states are trying different approaches to the same goal: “To give consumers, whether they’re residents or businesses or industries, the broadest access to the widest variety of choices for their electric supply.”

As of June 30, more than 2 million Pennsylvania customers, or about 35.8 percent, had switched to an electric supplier. There are more than 400 suppliers and marketers of electric supply (distributors) in the state offering a variety of options. 

Hagen-Frederiksen said choices can be viewed on the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch website; just type in your zip code and you’ll see the list of suppliers and distributors available to you. 

For example, if you entered 15203 for Pittsburgh’s South Side, 83 options would appear, and then you can narrow the search.

“If you’re searching for offers that have a certain percentage of green energy, you can just look at those plans.  If you know that you want a fixed rate plan for a certain period of time, you can sort and just look for just those items.”

He said you can find choices that offer discounts that promote use of electricity during low demand times and even bundled options that offer service contracts for heating and air conditioning systems … or you can stick with your default service “which is often a competitive offer.”

And by plugging in the amount of power you used as shown on your monthly bill, you can see what it should cost you “but the bottom line isn’t what drives all consumers; that’s why we make all of those other options available too.”

Hagen-Frederiksen said there are two basic ways to impact your bill: adjusting your power consumption and looking for alternative suppliers.  

“The perspective from the PUC is consumers should be in control,” he said.