HARRISBURG – Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) introduced legislation to provide consumers with more transparency on costs among electric and natural gas providers, as well as make it easier for consumers to switch service providers.
“When Pennsylvania passed a law to allow consumers to shop for energy suppliers, this change was hailed as an opportunity for consumers to lower utility prices in a pro-consumer market,” Phillips-Hill said. “While those changes have been helpful, barriers still exist that make it more difficult to change natural gas and electric distributors.”
Under the current law, consumers must locate their electric or gas account number to be able to change service providers. The new legislation would allow customers to provide a government-issued ID, or their account number, to make switching providers easier.
Senate Bill 1365 will also require retail electric and natural gas suppliers – and their representatives selling their products – to be certified by the Public Utility Commission. Individuals will need to complete an online course to be educated on acceptable marketing practices and consumer protections and pass an exam before selling to customers.
“While most retail suppliers have acted responsibly and appropriately when marketing cost-effective and innovative energy products to consumers, there have been a few unscrupulous actors which have not acted in such a manner, which is unacceptable,” she added. “This legislation will provide consumers with greater flexibility and transparency to find the best option that fits their budget, while also bringing enhanced professionalism and competency to their energy shopping experience.”
If passed, Pennsylvania would join Maryland and the District of Columbia in enacting this measure to provide enhanced accountability to retail energy markets. The cost to implement and administer the exam would be paid by suppliers through their licensing fee.
Senate Bill 1365 would also require default electricity and natural gas suppliers to provide a breakdown of costs associated with being a default service provider in order to provide greater transparency for consumers who are comparing utility rates to other suppliers.