State’s Consumer Advocate Defends Pa. Electric Supplier System As PUC Mulls Changes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – A top Pennsylvania regulator thinks not enough people are taking advantage of the opportunity to switch electricity suppliers, but Pennsylvania’s consumer advocate thinks the system is fine as it is.

With fewer than 20 percent of Peco customers opting for a new electricity supplier since rate caps expired at the beginning of the year, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is re-examining the system.

And one of the things now being considered is a system like the one operating in Texas that requires customers to shop for electricity.

But Pennsylvania state consumer advocate Sonny Popowsky says the system in the Keystone State allows customers to shop for competitive electricity rates if they wish.

“At the same time, we have a lot of protections in place, which I think are important,” he says.  “That is, if customers don’t want to shop, they can stay with their traditional utility. And that utility, a company like Peco, is required under Pennsylvania law to go out and by the lowest-cost power it can find.”

The bottom line, Popowsky says, is that customers who don’t want to shop shouldn’t have to.  And he adds that it’s still early.  He believes that over time, customers will become more comfortable and knowledgeable about electric choice in Pennsylvania.

Reported by KYW Harrisburg Bureau chief Tony Romeo

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