Review board approves rules for faster switching, clearer terms in electric contracts

An effort to make it easier for customers to understand their electricity supply contracts and allow them to switch suppliers more quickly advanced on Thursday when a state regulatory review board approved two new rules.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission wrote the rules to respond to a surge of complaints from consumers with variable rate contracts who saw their electric bills spike this winter and then felt trapped in contracts whose terms they said were not transparent.

The regulations will reduce the time it takes customers to change electricity suppliers to three business days from as many as 40 days. The rules also will require suppliers to disclose key contract terms more prominently and in greater detail. Suppliers will have to provide more information about price variability, past pricing and when contracts expire or change terms.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted unanimously on Thursday that the expedited rules are in the public interest. The state Attorney General’s office must do a final review before the rules are published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and take effect, likely in June.

Companies will have to comply with the faster switching rules within six months and the improved disclosure rules within 30 days.

Laura Legere:

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