Frequently Asked Questions
Can I save money by choosing a competitive electric supplier?
Depending on where you live, you may be able to save money by switching electric suppliers. Since rate caps have expired, the number of competitive electric suppliers offering services to residential and small business customers has increased in most service territories. Also, an electric supplier may be willing to negotiate on price or other services to entice you into switching suppliers. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.
Why should I shop for electricity?
Just like you shop for any household item, you can shop for your electricity to find the best deal and the best service for your needs. Remember, saving just one cent per kWh could translate into more than $100 a year in savings, depending on usage. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.
What is an electric supplier?
Your electric supplier is the company that provides your electric generation service. In Pennsylvania, you have the power to choose your electric supplier.
If I choose a new electric supplier, what part of my service will change?
There are three parts to your electric service: generation, transmission and distribution. Generation is the production of electricity. Transmission is the movement of that electricity from where it is produced to a local distribution system. Distribution is the delivery of electricity to your home or business.
When you shop for an electric supplier, you are choosing the company that generates your electricity. For most electric customers who select a new supplier, transmission costs will also be included in the charges from your new supplier. The electric utility that distributes your electricity will remain the same.
Can everyone shop for a supplier?
All residents of Pennsylvania have the power to choose their electric supplier. However, competitive offers may not be available in all areas.
As I shop for an electric supplier, what questions should I ask?
As you shop for electricity, be ready to ask competing suppliers the following questions:
- Is the supplier licensed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC)?
- What is the price per kilowatt hour (kWh)? Is the price fixed or does it depend on time of day or usage?
- Are all taxes included in the supplier's price?
- What is the length of the agreement? Can your price change in that time? If so, when can it change and how will you be notified?
- Is there a cancellation fee or any penalty for switching suppliers?
- Does the supplier offer a choice of energy sources, such as renewable energy?
- Will you receive one bill or two?
- Does the supplier offer a budget billing plan?
- Is there a bonus for signing up?
How do I know that a different supplier will provide reliable service?
If you choose a new electric supplier, the quality, reliability, and maintenance of your electric service will not change. Your current electric utility will continue to provide the same transmission and distribution service. And electric suppliers must be licensed by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to do business in Pennsylvania.
What should I do if a person tries to sell me energy service by soliciting my house?
- Door-to-door marketing is sometimes conducted by independent energy supply companies.
- Before inviting a door-to-door marketing representative into your home, providing personal account information or engaging in contract discussions, you should request identification that includes:
- The full name of the representative.
- A photograph of the representative.
- The full name, business address and telephone number of the company represented.
- You may also contact the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at 1-800-692-7380 to confirm that the company being represented is a licensed supplier.
- Feel free to contact the company represented to find out if they are sending sales representatives door-to-door.
- It is unnecessary to provide the sales representative a copy of your utility bill or the account number unless you are interested in pursuing an offer.
- Carefully review all contract terms before signing, including fine print and any fees for early termination.
- You do not have to make a decision on the spot. You can check your options at www.PAPowerSwitch.com to shop competitive supplier prices.
- If you have any questions or concerns you may call the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at 1-800-692-7380.
- PUC Regulations on Marketing and Sales Practices for the Retail Residential Market can be found at: www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol41/41-43/1789.html.
Where can I find information on supplier prices?
Each supplier's price can be different. To find out pricing, you will need to contact the electric supply company. Shop for electricity now.
How long will it take to switch to a new supplier?
The effective date of your choice depends on your next meter read date and can take three to eight weeks.
I participated in a pre-pay program with my utility, but would like to choose another supplier. What happens to my money?
The money that you deposited in a pre-pay plan and any interest will be applied to your account, no matter who supplies your electricity.
Will I still be able to take advantage of "budget billing"?
Yes — Residential customers may contact their electric utility and/or supplier and request budget billing at any time. Most suppliers offer budget billing, which allows you to pay a fixed amount each month. Budget billing averages bills out over 12 months, so each monthly bill will be the same amount until the total bill is paid. The company may adjust the bill four times a year, up or down, depending on the customer's use.
What is the "price to compare"?
The price to compare (PTC) is the price per kilowatt hour (kWh) your electric distribution company will charge. As you shop for electricity, ask competitive suppliers to provide you with a PTC so that you can make an apples-to-apples comparison on price for the generation portion of your bill. Be sure to ask how long the price is effective and verify if taxes or other fees are included in the PTC.
My electric utility has always been a good company. Why should I switch now?
Electric utilities are encouraging customers to shop around because you may be able to save money by switching to a competitive supplier. Regardless of whether you choose a different supplier, your electric utility will continue to deliver your electricity, provide reliable service, and respond to outage problems. The quality, reliability, and maintenance of your electric service should not change as it is still monitored by the Commission.
If I choose a new supplier, can I still receive help in paying my electric bill?
Yes, call your electric utility for more details. If your income is limited, programs are available to help you pay part of your bill or lower the amount of electricity you use. Your electric utility may call the programs by different names but many programs are available to you whether you switch suppliers or not. Get help paying your bill.
If I choose a new supplier, can I still use LIHEAP?
Yes, you may still be able to receive LIHEAP if you shop. Contact your electric utility for details.
If I have an unpaid balance on my electric account, can I still switch?
Yes, but first you will need to call your electric utility and make an arrangement to pay your balance on time. Once you've done this, you can shop for a new supplier.
With shopping for a new supplier, are there changes in the rules for electricity shut-offs?
Will I receive two electric bills if I choose a new supplier?
In most cases, you should be able to receive a single monthly bill from your electric utility. However, some suppliers might want to bill you separately. In this case, you would receive two bills, one from your electric utility and one from the supplier.
Are there any penalties for switching suppliers?
This depends on the agreement you have with your current supplier. Review your agreement with your current supplier to see if there are any penalties for cancellation. If you are not sure, call your current supplier. Be sure to ask your new supplier if they have any fees or penalties for cancelling or switching service.
Will I need a new electric meter if I choose a new supplier?
Not if you are a residential customer. However, you may want to ask if the supplier offers an advanced meter. These meters allow you to record your electric use during specific time periods, which could help you reduce energy use and benefit from special time-of-day discounts and other cost savings.
Who should I call about outages and repairs?
You will still call your electric utility about power outages and repairs.
Who do I contact if I have billing questions?
If you have a question about the generation charges, contact your electric supplier. Otherwise, you should continue to contact your electric utility to report outages and request repairs.
What is gross receipts tax (GRT) on sales of electric energy?
Gross receipts tax is paid by both electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers on the basis of the company's or the supplier's gross receipts from the sale of electric generation supply within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers include the GRT as part of the cost of electric generation supply.
By law, the current GRT rate in Pennsylvania is 5.90%. However, since the tax is embedded in the cost of electric generation supply, electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers apply a gross-up factor to determine the amount of GRT that must be paid to Pennsylvania. As a result, electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers pay GRT to Pennsylvania in the amount of 6.27% on the base price of electric generation supply. This gross-up factor, resulting in a GRT of 6.27%, is calculated by the following formula: 1/1-5.90%.
For example, if an electric distribution company or electric generation supplier charges a customer $100 per month for electric generation supply, application of the 5.90% GRT rate results in an electric generation supply charge of $105.90. Because the electric distribution company or electric generation supplier owes GRT to Pennsylvania on the basis of total gross receipts in the amount of $105.90, it must apply a gross-up factor to the base price of $100. Application of this gross-up factor results in a GRT liability of 6.27%. To recover this full amount from consumers, electric distribution companies or electric generation suppliers must collect $106.27 for electric generation supply.
As a consumer, it is important to understand that even if an electric generation supplier quotes the GRT rate of 5.90%, the electric generation supplier is still obligated to pay Pennsylvania GRT in the amount of 6.27% on the base price of electric generation supply. Consumers should ensure that any GRT rate communicated by electric generation suppliers in offers or price quotes matches the GRT amount that is included in electric generation supply charges on bills.
How do I learn if an electric generation supplier provides renewable energy?
When shopping for your competitive generation supplier on the PAPowerswitch website, you have the opportunity to learn which companies offer renewable energy services. If you click on “Shop for Electricity” and enter your zip code, a list of suppliers offering competitive generation service in your area will appear. On the right hand side next to each company name is a category called “Renewable Energy.” If there is a check mark located underneath this heading, the company does offer renewable sources. Additionally, at the bottom of the page is a list of “Renewable Energy Add-On Options.” Please note that the companies making these offers are available as additions to your current electric supply purchase and that by selecting one of these plans, the charge for the plan will be added to your monthly bill.
If I am a customer generator who has signed up for net metering with my utility, can I still receive credits from the EDC if I enroll with an EGS?
If you are a utility net metering/renewable service customer, you will no longer receive credits from the utility after switching to an electric generation supplier (EGS). The utility will provide you with a final credit for any energy you produced prior to the switch. Prior to enrollment with an EGS, net metering/renewable service customers should contact prospective EGSs to find out if these EGSs offer any credits for energy produced.