The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a public hearing today to hear testimony on a number of issues involving electric rates and markets, according to Senate Chairman Robert M. “Tommy” Tomlinson (R-Bucks).
“The overall issue is that whatever is done in the marketplace we need to make sure it provides greater assurance that Pennsylvania consumers receive energy in the most reliable, economically and environmentally sound manner. We also need to mitigate the effect it has on our large industrial users and the economic effect it will have on jobs.”
Tomlinson said the committee heard from representatives of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), the Department of General Services, Consumer Advocates and manufacturers on how the Commonwealth should proceed as the remaining electric rate caps are set to expire. The General Assembly has been working with these groups to provide customers with the tools they need to keep costs down and take advantage of energy efficiency and conservation programs.
Electricity rate caps have been removed for seven of Pennsylvania regional utility companies. Those companies account for approximately 40 percent of state electric customers – the largest being PPL Electric Utilities, Inc., which removed rate caps at the beginning of 2010. The remaining rate caps will expire January 1, 2011, which includes PECO, Pennsylvania largest supplier.
Much of the testimony centered on whether customers would benefit if the Department of General Services gains membership to the PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Other topics discussed included municipal aggregation and the creation of a Pennsylvania Power Authority. Many of those testified that Pennsylvania must encourage customers to reduce costs by choosing a competitive supplier and adopting energy efficiency and conservation measures. They said customer education is crucial to ensuring that consumers are aware of the options available to them.