Harrisburg, March 18, 2014 – State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh) today introduced her proposal aimed at helping consumers shop for less expensive electricity and avoid sticker shock when they agree to variable rate pricing deals.

“My legislation (Senate Bill 1297) mandates clear and reliable pricing information on variable rate pricing,” Boscola said. “It also reduces the lengthy, arbitrary and unnecessary waiting periods for switching electric suppliers to five business days or less,” Boscola said.

Calling this one of the most brutal winters in memory, Boscola said many consumers with variable rate plans were shocked by huge electricity price spikes in recent weeks.

Boscola’s bill would require the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to adopt regulations that would shorten the waiting period before people can switch retail electric suppliers. Currently, consumers have to wait up to 45 days. Boscola’s legislation would cut the waiting period not to exceed five business days.

Her bill also calls on the PUC to mandate stronger consumer notification requirements for electric suppliers that offer variable rate deals. Boscola said many people do not understand or anticipate the potentially huge price swings that can occur as part of variable rate deals. Her legislation would require electric suppliers to:

• send both a 45 day notice and a 15 day notice to customers on fixed rate plans who are about to be moved to a variable rate plan. The notification would indicate that the customer will be moved to a variable rate plan if action is not taken;
• electronically notify residential customers when their variable rate increased by 50 percent or more from the previous month’s rate;
• post their variable rate publicly on their website with continuous real-time updates and;
• clearly and plainly disclose the full details of a variable rate plans, in a person-to-person conversation, to those who are considering them, including that the variable rate is uncapped, the basis in which the rate is derived, and the full terms and conditions of the contract.

“I am satisfied that my bill would tighten and clarify the state’s electric choice law,” Boscola added. “It will certainly help consumers save money and make more informed decisions when they choose a pricing plan.”