HARRISBURG – Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) proposed legislation that would address significant gaps in the state’s law related to choosing electricity and natural gas suppliers, along with tightening oversight of energy suppliers operating in Pennsylvania to protect consumers.
“Energy costs are surging, and consumers need to have more options so that they can reduce their costs,” Phillips-Hill said. “We want them to have choice and comparatively price shop for their energy. We also want to make the energy shopping process more transparent and safer.”
Current law requires consumers to provide an existing account number to switch electric or natural gas suppliers. Under Senate Bill 558, consumers would be allowed to provide a government-issued identification or their account number to switch utility providers. Additionally, the bill would create greater transparency by requiring Pennsylvania’s default utilities to separately break out their costs associated with serving as a supplier and distributor.
In an effort to strengthen consumer protections, the legislation would require the certification of retail electric and natural gas suppliers (and their representatives) through an educational course in sales and consumer protection of electric and natural gas products to consumers. Individuals will need to pass a required online training and education exam, and be certified by the Public Utility Commission, before selling to consumers. The cost to implement and administer the exam would be paid by suppliers through their licensing fee.
Maryland and the District of Columbia already have similar enhanced accountability measures in place to best protect consumers participating in retail energy markets.
The legislation was recently referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.