Lehigh Valley

Electric rate spikes prompts hearing

Pa. PUC flooded with complaints over inflated power bills.

Electric rate spikes prompts hearing

PEN ARGYL, Pa. - Thousands of Pennsylvanians were sent scrambling this winter after receiving astronomically high energy bills.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission was flooded with complaints this year.

That's why Pa. Rep. Marcia Hahn organized a meeting in Pen Argyl Tuesday night -- bringing together energy customers, utility company representatives, PUC officials, and representatives from the Office of Consumer Affairs.

It was an opportunity for customers to express frustrations, ask questions, and hopefully get answers.

Dozens of people attended the meeting.

"They promised me a competitive rate....It went up three and a half times," said one attendee.

Changing rates, or variable rates, were the chief concern.

"Some people didn't know they were on variable rate. They thought they had a fixed plan. Some said they didn't have a contract that would have spelled out that information to them," said Gladys Brown, Commissioner with the PUC.

Brown encouraged people to shop around and explore different companies.

Hahn also warned people not to sign something they don't understand.

"Know what you're signing up for and make sure you are getting a written contract," Hahn said.

Hahn said a bill that would help fix some of those issues is in the preliminary stages in Harrisburg.

She plans on taking feedback from Tuesday's meeting back to Harrisburg.

The PUC is working to make changes too.

"We are looking at different policy changes to our regulation, which we have proposed rules out there. People can make comments right now to talk about disclosure issues as well as giving notice that your rates will increase, and how much notice will be out there. So, we want to try and address those, so people have notices that their rates will be increasing. That will help a little more," Brown said.

Anyone experiencing problems should file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission.

For more information, visit papowerswitch.com

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