Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Bradford, a Democrat from the 70th District, recently held two seminars to discuss electric deregulation and address some of the confusion that customers of PECO Energy Co. have when it comes to switching to an alternative electric provider.
Bradford told The Times Herald that the deregulation of PECO, the state’s largest utility, was a complicated issue, but that the seminars, co-hosted by representatives from PECO and the state’s Public Utility Commission, would help consumers get their questions answered.
“As a result of electric deregulation, PECO customers have the opportunity to select the electricity generator of their choice, including staying with PECO,” Bradford said in an interview. “To the consumer this can be confusing. That’s why I wanted to bring in an honest broker (PUC) to explain the process.”
The seminars were a success, if the turnout was any indication. There were so many attendees at one seminar that parking became a problem and members of Bradford’s staff scrambled to find extra chairs for the standing-room-only crowd.
The Main Points of PECO Deregulation
At both seminars, PECO Energy Educator Ray Moffo and PUC Senior Communications Specialist Shari Williams addressed consumers and explained the main points of deregulation, as reported by The Perkioman Valley Patch:
- Deregulation means other energy companies besides PECO can sell electricity in Pennsylvania, though PECO isn’t competing with any of them.
- There are three parts to electricity service: generation, transmission, and distribution.
- The only service consumers can shop for is generation.
- If consumers stay with PECO, the utility will continue to provide all three services.
- If consumers switch to a retail electric provider, PECO will provide distribution of electricity to the home and, in most cases, transmission from the electricity generator to the grid. Most retail electric providers will only provide generation, but some provide transmission instead of PECO, so be sure to ask questions when shopping for a retail electric provider.
- Consumers will continue to receive one monthly bill from PECO, even if they buy their electricity from an alternative retail electric provider. Charges on the bill will be broken down into the three service categories: generation, transmission, and distribution.
- Regardless of which company consumers buy their electricity from, PECO will distribute it to the home and still be responsible for maintaining and repairing things like power lines, transformers, and poles. Power outages and service problems should be reported to PECO.
- PECO is the default provider of electricity. As such, if an alternative retail electric provider goes out of business, PECO will be able to supply customers with electricity instantaneously so there is no service interruption.
- PECO offers a “rate to compare,” which is the rate PECO charges its customers, and is dependent on market fluctuations. The rate to compare will always be listed on consumers’ bills, even if they switch to another provider, so that they’ll always have a baseline to judge how much they’re paying for generation.
- PECO’s current rate to compare is 9.92 cents per kWh. In April, the rate to compare will increase to 9.99 cents per kWh.
PECO Deregulation FAQ
Moffo and Williams fielded questions after they addressed the crowds. Here’s a sampling of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
- Why should I shop for a retail electric provider? Because electricity is like anything else you buy, and it pays to get the best deal you can.
- Can I save money by switching? Saving money on your electric bill depends on which retail electric providers are competing in your area and what they charge for generation, as well as what they charge for transmission, if they’re providing that service instead of PECO. If the amount is less than what PECO charges, you’ll save money.
- Who can shop for a retail electric provider? Anyone.
- Is there a deadline to sign up for a retail electric provider? No.
- How long does it take to switch? The enrollment process may take up to a billing cycle to complete. What this means is that even though you submit an enrollment request today, PECO may not switch your service until your next meter read and still receive one last bill at PECO’s rate.
- If I switch, will I have to get a new meter? No.
- How can I be sure a retail electric provider will give me reliable service? You don’t have to worry about any change to service because PECO will still be responsible for all service-related issues and will still be responsible for delivering electricity to your home. The only thing you’re doing by switching is paying someone else for the electricity you use.
“Matt Bradford to Host Seminars on Deregulation,” The Times Herald, Feb. 14, 2011.
“Residents Turn Out in Droves to PA Rep. Matt Bradford's Electricity Deregulation Seminar,” The Perkioman Valley Patch, Feb. 25, 2011.