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PA Public Utility Commission to Investigate Policies of Power Companies

The Public Utility Commission, or PUC, is reviewing the policies and rules of electric generation suppliers after numerous complaints about abnormally high energy bills.

The PUC has received more than 750 informal complaints from Pennsylvania residents concerning their energy bills. The commission is concerned about customers under variable rate contracts.

When Pennsylvanians select their energy providers they can choose a variable rate contract — that reflects the market value — or a fixed price contract that later expires to a variable rate. According to spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher, the PUC has found that some of these variable rates have no price limits written into their contracts.

The PUC issued a warning to customers at the end of January after energy prices across the region skyrocketed.

“So with that whole sale energy spike we indicated and knew that some variable prices if they were on these unlimited contracts could increase and that is in fact what has happened and they have increased significantly,” Kocher said.

Now the commission is reviewing the policies and rules of power suppliers to ensure that customers were aware of the possible charges.

“So while we can’t come in and say their prices were too high, too low or whatever we can come in and look and see whether or not the prices they were charging, and how they communicated that to customers is in line with the terms and conditions that they presented to customers,” Kocher said.

Kocher said the PUC is looking into their ability to cap the prices of variable rates to avoid similar incidents in the future, though it may require additional legislation to grant them the authority.

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