Electricity bills are full of numbers, measurements, abbreviations, and costs, all tallied precisely. But one thing that does not show up is the name of the company that actually produces the electricity. That is, until recently.
The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a requirement that bills contain more information about electricity suppliers.
PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher explained that utilities, such as Duquesne Light and West Penn Power, get their electricity from suppliers. In Pennsylvania, customers have the ability to purchase power from a variety of competitive suppliers, and can shop around for the best deal. Unfortunately, according to Kocher, many Pennsylvania residents don’t know which company produces their electricity.
"When you are with a supplier (producer) you are billed on your regular utility bill," said Kocher. "So even if you're using a competitive supplier, you're still receiving your bill from Duquesne or West Penn Power."
Now, bills will have more room for information from the supplier.
"What this did was provide for the inclusion of your competitive supplier's logo on the bill, providing more messaging that can be provided to the consumer from the competitive supplier for information, whether it's when their terms will expire or what their price may be next month," explained Kocher.
The decision came as part of the PUC's Retail Markets Investigation, that began in 2011 to encourage more competition between electricity suppliers and more market awareness by customers. Kocher says the hope is that customers who see a brand name and logo attached to their power supplier will begin to view electricity like any other consumer product.
"The goal of this is to increase customer awareness when they are shopping and then participating in our competitive market," said Kocher.
But Pennsylvania is not the only state where customers have the ability to purchase electricity from an alternative supplier. Deregulation, which began with the Energy Policy Act of 1992, allows states to make their own decisions about electric choice. Other deregulated markets include Texas,Illinois, Michigan,Ohio, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware,Maryland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.
By allowing customers to select alternative electricity providers, it enables them to compare prices and select an electric plan they feel suits their needs best. A customer has the power to decide exactly what they want to pay for their electric supply which in many cases is less than the cost of the utility price.
In Pennsylvania, the state public utilties commission operates PA Power Switch, the official state-run website for electricity rate shopping. However, ElectricityRates.com is a great alternative site that only works with leading providers and makes comparing rates easy. To get started, enter your ZIP Code in our free Rate Comparison Tool at the top of the page.