Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PUC Updates PaPowerSwitch Again To Educate Consumers On Variable Electric Rates

The Public Utility Commission Tuesday announced several PAPowerSwitch.com updates to address this winter’s variable rate issues in the retail electricity market, including additional information on types of rates.
One of the additions is a “Things to Consider when Choosing a Fixed or Variable Rate” box on the shopping page, which leads to information and a chart on the differences between fixed and variable rates.
“PUC actions can have a substantial impact on customers and, in particular, on educating and empowering customers to make well-informed choices when participating in the retail electricity market,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson during his testimony April 29 before the Pennsylvania Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. “With this in mind, the PUC has undertaken a number of innovative consumer-education initiatives and two rulemakings designed to ensure that customers have access to the information and educational materials they need to make wise decisions regarding their electricity supply options.”
New features include changes to PAPowerSwitch.com that “will help customers assess their risk tolerance, which in turn will help them decide whether to choose a variable rate, which can be riskier – or a fixed rate, which is often less risky,” said Chairman Powelson in his testimony. “These small changes will have a big impact on customers by ensuring they have access to the best information possible. Doing so will also protect against the possibility of a customer selecting a product without understanding the associated risks.”
With this enhancement, when customers are shopping for electricity on PAPowerSwitch.com and their cursor hovers over the words “fixed” and “variable” under the “Narrow Your Search” section, a message will appear describing what each one means.
These messages also will contain links to the recently added “Understanding Fixed & Variable Rates” page on PAPowerSwitch.com, in addition to the “Things to Consider” box on that page. The PUC also added to the “Fixed & Variable” page the side-by-side comparison so consumers can consider the differences between both rate types.
The initiatives follow other recent actions, including new and updated pages on PAPowerSwitch.com, educational videos, press releases, consumer-education events and two rulemakings, which will accelerate the time it takes to switch suppliers and require suppliers to list disclosure information more prominently on their bills.

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