Monday, July 28, 2014

PUC Reminds Consumers Of Electric Choice Standard Offer Program Savings

The Public Utility Commission Monday reminded consumers saving money on electricity can be as simple as enrolling in the Commission’s Electric Choice Standard Offer Program. The program was recognized last week by Gov. Tom Corbett as the year’s “Best Customer Service Innovation” at the 2014 Innovation Expo.
“The Standard Offer Program provides a voluntary, innovative approach to introducing non-shopping customers to the competitive marketplace,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson, who led the Innovation Expo presentation on the program before a panel of judges July 22. “In our view, the Standard Offer Program is a ‘win-win-win’ for electric consumers, competitive suppliers and the Commonwealth. This is why more than 200,000 electric customers in Pennsylvania have found the Standard Offer to be anything but standard.”
The program was launched in August 2013 to offer non-shopping electric customers a simple way to enter the competitive market with guaranteed, immediate savings. The launch of the Standard Offer Program is projected to have saved Pennsylvania residential and small-business customers nearly $19 million in annual savings since its inception.
The Standard Offer Program is geared toward customers who are utilizing their default supply – or paying their utility for electric generation, rather than a competitive supplier. Customers receive a 7 percent discount off the utility’s generation rate, or price to compare, at the time of enrollment, for 12 months at a fixed rate.
The agreement includes no enrollment or cancellation fees, so customers can switch or cancel at any time without penalty.
To take advantage of the Standard Offer Program, customers can call their utility and ask about the plan. The utility will explain the offer and transfer the customer to one of its participating suppliers, randomly chosen, who will help enroll the customer in the program.
The choice of supplier makes no difference in electric service or contract terms. The utility will still distribute the electricity to the customer’s home, restore outages and send monthly bills.
The PUC’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight (OCMO) implemented the Standard Offer Program as a follow-up to the 2012 Retail Markets Investigation, which required electric utilities to implement a standard offer for non-shopping customers. A group of key OCMO members representing several key Commission bureaus worked with the utilities on call-center scripts in order to set the program in motion.
More than 2.1 million customers have switched to a competitive supplier for their generation supply in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is ranked second in the nation for its competitive electric market and number of shopping customers, according to the 2014 Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States.
The Commonwealth is ranked only behind Texas, which requires its customers to shop – eliminating the option for customers to remain with a default utility for their generation supply.
“From a PUC perspective, the Standard Offer Program has brought innovation and stimulated Pennsylvania’s robust competitive markets, producing extraordinary levels of participation in a very condensed timeframe – and providing stability to customers who were hesitant to enter the market during turbulent times with the run-up in variable rate prices,” Chairman Powelson said.
For more information, visit the PUC’s Electric Choice Standard Offer Program webpage.

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