Rising electricity rates. Higher utility bills. Technical glitches that cause prices to surge. Bills that don’t show up on time, or sometimes even at all. Customer service departments that are slow to answer complaints, assuming callers sit through the hours-long wait to reach a representative.
It has been a rollercoaster ride for energy consumers. They are frustrated and angry.
Lawmakers in Harrisburg are finally taking notice.
Two measures have been introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to give consumers more relief and greater control over their energy options and increase transparency in how utilities operate and bill their customers.
The first measure (Senate Bill 558), introduced by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), would make it easier for consumers to shop and switch utility providers, an important update given the turmoil some utilities have made customers endure recently.
Her measure also would create greater transparency by requiring Pennsylvania’s default utilities to separately break out their costs associated with serving as a supplier and distributor, so customers can see exactly what they’re paying for and whether the service is worth it.
The second bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), would create the Consumer Choice Billing Act, which would enhance consumer protections, streamline billing practices to increase innovation and give consumers more options and control over their energy decisions to maximize savings and allow them to pick the plan that is best for their home or business.
Most significantly, the legislation essentially would standardize “supplier consolidated billing,” which allows the retail supplier to consolidate all electricity costs into one bill (including utility costs) and invoice the customer directly. Customers want that simplicity.
Both measures are only at the beginning of the legislative process. But each one marks real progress in shared efforts to enact meaningful change and finally unleash the true value of Pennsylvania’s competitive energy market.