By David Madden

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is moving to address thousands of complaints filed in recent months over rapidly rising electric bills.

The problem centers on customers who opted to take a variable rate plan from their power supplier (see related stories).

It seems those people didn’t read the fine print, or, as PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher words it a little more gently, “They didn’t know exactly what they were signing up for.  They weren’t necessarily aware of what was happening with their bills.  So, we have standardized and increased the amount of information that the suppliers have to provide to consumers.”

The agency is also requiring suppliers to respond more quickly to a customer’s demand to switch electric suppliers: from the current 10-30 days (or more) to three business days.

The rule changes must be reviewed by an independent regulatory panel, the attorney general, and legislative committees (see related story).   The PUC hopes to have them in effect by next winter.