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Pa. Lawmaker Says Variable-Rate Electric Plans Need Caps To Protect Consumers

(Members of the Pa. House Consumer Affairs Committee share a light moment during proceedings.  Photo by Tony Romeo)

(Members of the Pa. House Consumer Affairs Committee share a light moment during proceedings. Photo by Tony Romeo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — After a winter which saw some Pennsylvania residents’ electric rates double, triple, or worse, the chairman of the state House Consumer Affairs Committee says he’ll push to put caps on variable-rate plans offered by electricity suppliers (see related stories).

During a hearing on the rate spikes this winter in the wholesale electricity market, Ritchie Hudson, Pennsylvania state chairman of the Retail Energy Supply Association, urged lawmakers not to impose price controls.

“We would also caution against any over-regulation or knee-jerk reactions,” he told the lawmakers.

But Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montco), chairman of the committee (far right in photo), says lawmakers will attempt to put a cap on the variable-rate plans that caught many customers off guard this winter.

“I agree with most of your comments on the free market,” Goshall told Hudson today.  “Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked.”

Godshall cited deceptive marketing plans that left people completely unprepared for the kind of hit they took over the winter.  He says lawmakers will address consumer protections going forward but admits there’s little that can be done legislatively to help people rocked by rate spikes this past winter.

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