FUNDAMENTALS OF SWITCHING GAS & ELECTRIC SUPPLIERS
Just like you shop for other services like cell phone, cable or insurance, you can shop for electricity. You may be able to save money by shopping for the generation portion of your bill. Competitive suppliers are making offers to most electric customers in the Deregulated States (see map) for the generation portion of their bill. You can shop based on price, environmental preferences or special services and deals. Consumers are encouraged to seek out competitive electric generation suppliers (EGSs) to obtain pricing information for the generation portion of their bill so we will submit your accounts for competitive bids. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas, but we’ll tell you if your offers are below your utility’s rates. If your utility currently offers the lowest rate, we’ll monitor future market fluctuations and let you know of any opportunity for savings in the future.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Your electric supplier, or EGS, is the company that provides your electric generation service. In the Deregulated States (see map), you have the power to choose your electric supplier and/or natural gas supplier.
WHY SHOULD I SHOP FOR ELECTRICITY?
Just like you shop for any household item, you can shop for your electricity to find the best deal and the best service for your needs. Remember, saving just one cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) could translate into more than $100 a year in savings, depending on usage. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.
CAN I SAVE MONEY BY CHOOSING A COMPETITIVE ELECTRIC SUPPLIER?
Depending on where you live, you may be able to save money by switching electric suppliers. The Deregulated States’ retail market enables competitive electric suppliers to offer services to residential and small business customers in most service territories. Also, a supplier may be willing to negotiate on price or other services to entice you into switching suppliers. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.
IF I CHOOSE A NEW SUPPLIER, WHAT PART OF MY SERVICE WILL CHANGE?
There are three parts to your electric service: generation, transmission and distribution. Generation is the production of electricity. Transmission is the movement of that electricity from where it is produced to a local distribution system. Distribution is the delivery of electricity to your home or business. When you shop for an electric supplier, you are choosing the company that generates or supplies your electricity. For electric customers who select a new supplier, transmission costs also will be included in the charges from your new supplier. The electric utility that distributes your electricity —or your Electric Distribution Company (EDC) —will remain the same.
CAN EVERYONE SHOP FOR A SUPPLIER?
Most residents in the deregulated states (see map) have the power to choose their electric supplier. However, competitive offers may not be available in all areas. We’ll submit your accounts for bids from our many suppliers and let you know if the lowest bid offers you savings over your utility’s rates. If your utility’s rates are currently lower, we’ll keep an eye on market fluctuations in the future and advise if an opportunity for savings arises down the road.
MY ELECTRIC UTILITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN A GOOD COMPANY. WHY SHOULD I SWITCH NOW?
Electric utilities are encouraging customers to shop around because you may be able to save money by switching to a competitive supplier. Regardless of whether you choose a different supplier, your electric utility will continue to supply and deliver your electricity, provide reliable service and respond to outage problems. The quality, reliability and maintenance of your electric service should not change, as it is still monitored by the State Utility Commissions.
WHO SHOULD I CALL ABOUT OUTAGES AND REPAIRS?
You will still call your electric utility about power outages and repairs.
CONSIDERATION FOR SWITCHING SUPPLIERS
HOW DO I KNOW THAT A DIFFERENT SUPPLIER WILL PROVIDE RELIABLE SERVICE?
If you choose a new electric supplier, the quality, reliability and maintenance of your electric service will not change. Your current electric utility will continue to provide the same transmission and distribution service. Electric suppliers must be licensed by the PUC in your state to do business.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SWITCH TO A NEW SUPPLIER?
Enrollment time varies by state but customers can normally be switched to their new supplier within 2 weeks, on the meter read date, once the electric utility is notified of the switch by the supplier.
IF I HAVE AN UNPAID BALANCE ON MY ELECTRIC ACCOUNT, CAN I STILL SWITCH?
Yes, but first you will need to call your electric utility and make an arrangement to pay your balance. Once you’ve done this, you can switch to a new supplier.
WHILE SHOPPING FOR A NEW SUPPLIER, ARE THERE CHANGES IN THE RULES FOR ELECTRICITY SHUT-OFFS?
No — the shut-off rules remain the same. If you have received a shut-off notice, please contact your utility for information about programs to help you pay your bill.
DOES IT COST ANYTHING TO SWITCH SUPPLIERS?
No. There is no cost to switch.
ARE THERE ANY PENALTIES FOR SWITCHING SUPPLIERS?
This depends on the agreement you have with your current supplier. Review your agreement to see if there are any penalties for cancellation or send it to us to review for you.
HOW DO I PURCHASE RENEWABLE ENERGY?
Many of our suppliers offer Renewable Energy so just let us know if you’re interested in those rates and we’ll provide rates for either a percentage of Renewable Energy or 100% Green-e Certified Renewable Energy.
WHAT IS A FIXED PRICE?
An all-inclusive, per-kWh price that will remain the same for at least three billing cycles or the term of the contract, whichever is longer. A fixed price will remain the same, usually for a set period of time. This will give you certainty that your price will not change during the term of the agreement. However, if you are in a contract and market prices fall, you may have to wait until your contract expires to get a lower price. Also, even with a fixed rate, you need to know when your contract ends. Unless you act prior to the expiration date in your contract, your fixed rate may change to a monthly variable rate. You should read your contract’s disclosure statement for the terms and conditions to find out what happens after your term expires.
WHAT IS A VARIABLE PRICE?
An all-inclusive, per-kWh price that can change, by the hour, day, month, etc., according to the terms and conditions in the supplier’s disclosure statement. If you select a variable rate, the rate may change with market conditions. So if market prices increase, your rate may increase. If market prices drop, your rate may decrease.
IF I CHOOSE A VARIABLE RATE, CAN THE RATE ON MY BILL INCREASE MONTH TO MONTH?
WHAT IS THE “RATE TO COMPARE” OR “PRICE TO COMPARE”?
The rate to compare (RTC) or price to compare (PTC) is the price per kWh your EDC will charge and includes: charges for generation and transmission, the state’s gross receipts tax and the utility’s charges for implementation of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. Under the law, an EDC’s RTC may be adjusted quarterly but is not seasonal. An EDC develops its RTC based on what the company pays for electricity during auctions held over a two-year period on the wholesale energy market. We will provide you with a RTC to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison on price for the generation portion of your bill.
IF A MONTHLY FEE IS NOT INCLUDED IN A SUPPLIER’S PRICE PER KWH, WHERE CAN INFORMATION ON MONTHLY FEES BE FOUND?
Any supplier must list monthly fees in the supplier’s contract with the customer.
WILL I RECEIVE TWO ELECTRIC BILLS IF I CHOOSE A NEW SUPPLIER?
In most cases, you should be able to receive a single monthly bill from your electric utility. However, some suppliers might want to bill you separately so let us know if you’d like to ensure your supply charges are included on your utility’s bill and we’ll shop with only our suppliers who offer “consolidated billing”.
WHO DO I CONTACT IF I HAVE BILLING QUESTIONS?
If you have a question about the generation charges, contact us at (610) 436-9800 and we’ll try to help or call your electric supplier at the number listed on your supply agreement. Otherwise, you should continue to contact your electric utility to report outages and request repairs.
I PARTICIPATED IN A PRE-PAY PROGRAM WITH MY UTILITY BUT WOULD LIKE TO CHOOSE ANOTHER SUPPLIER. WHAT HAPPENS TO MY MONEY?
The money that you deposited in a pre-pay plan and any interest will be applied to your account, no matter who supplies your electricity.
WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF “BUDGET BILLING”?
Yes, residential customers may contact their electric utility and/or supplier and request budget billing at any time. Most suppliers offer budget billing, which allows you to pay a fixed amount each month. Budget billing averages bills out over 12 months, so each monthly bill will be the same amount until the total bill is paid. The company may adjust the bill four times a year, up or down, depending on the customer’s use.
IF I CHOOSE A NEW SUPPLIER, CAN I STILL RECEIVE HELP IN PAYING MY ELECTRIC BILL?
Yes, call your electric utility for more details. If your income is limited, programs are available to help you pay part of your bill or lower the amount of electricity you use. Your electric utility may call the programs by different names, but many programs are available to you whether you switch suppliers or not.
IF I CHOOSE A NEW SUPPLIER, CAN I STILL USE PROGRAMS LIKE THE LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP)?
Yes, you may still may be able to receive LIHEAP, e.g., if you shop. Contact your electric utility for details.
WHAT IS GROSS RECEIPTS TAX (GRT) ON SALES OF ELECTRIC ENERGY?
GRT is paid by both EDCs and EGSs on the basis of the company’s or the supplier’s gross receipts from the sale of electric generation supply within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers include the GRT as part of the cost of electric generation supply. By law, the current GRT rate in Pennsylvania is 5.90 percent. However, since the tax is embedded in the cost of electric generation supply, EDCs and EGSs apply a gross-up factor to determine the amount of GRT that must be paid to Pennsylvania. As a result, EDCs and EGSs pay GRT to Pennsylvania in the amount of 6.27 percent on the base price of electric generation supply. This gross-up factor is calculated by the following formula: 1/1-5.90 percent.