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Many Pennsylvanians Would Switch Electricity Providers, But Few Investigate Options

A new survey found that Pennsylvania residents have become increasingly well-educated and open-minded about the state's electricity deregulation policy.

Pennsylvania has had competitive electricity rates for more than a decade now, enacting the policy among the first wave of electricity industry reforms in the late 1990s. But Pennsylvania maintained price caps that kept lower electricity rates at the cost of limiting development in the industry and reducing competition.

With the end of the price caps at the start of 2011, Pennsylvania has quickly become a hotbed of competition between electricity providers, as companies scramble to offer customers better electricity prices than traditional utility companies.

However, the competition depends entirely upon Pennsylvania residents knowing they have the ability and now have added incentive to switch electricity suppliers. So far, PAPowerSwitch.com, the site the state set up to inform residents about electricity deregulation and their options, reports that only slightly more than 23 percent of residential customers have chosen to change electricity providers, around 1.16 million customers.

To this end, Constellation Energy contracted Terry Madonna Opinion Research to conduct a survey of more than 800 Pennsylvania residents on their opinions about switching electricity providers and electricity prices as a whole.

Perhaps the surveys most important finding proved to be that most Pennsylvania residents would be willing to switch electricity companies under the right circumstances. With 10 percent savings from the utility company rates, 78 percent of respondents said they would switch to an alternate electricity provider.

"Given the challenges of today’s economy, Pennsylvanians clearly are [motivated] by the ability to save money – and if they’re convinced they can save over a long period of time, they’ll switch their electric supplier," pollster Terry Madonna said in a statement. "It’s clear more education needs to be done, because while nine out of 10 Pennsylvanians are aware they can change suppliers, our poll found that less than half have actually looked into changing."

Residents suggested that they were already well-aware of the advantages of switching electricity providers, given that as many as 88 percent reported knowing that they had the right to shop for lower electricity prices. However, only a little more than half of that group – 45 percent overall – suggested that they had investigated their options. Only half of that smaller group had already made their way to PAPowerSwitch.com to look through the resources available on that site.

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