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PA electric customers shocked by outrageously high bills

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Electric rates for many PA residents skyrocketed in the past two months. Reasons for the higher rates were most notably caused by high demand from a colder than normal winter. But some of those who have variable TRANSMISSION rates were hosed, especially by one supplier in particular, PA Gas and Electric from Harrisburg.

Rates for many doubled or tripled in just one month. One example which occurred to an unknown amount of their customers was a rate at .1092 per kWh in December's bill, a rate of .1231 per kWh in January's bill and then an outrageous jump to a rate of .2923 per kWh in February's bill. That meant for the average all-electric customer their monthly bill went from around $250 in Dec. to over a thousand dollars in February.

Trying to contact PA Gas and Electric on the phone (866-706-7361) has been futile because their lines have been jammed and they are not returning phone calls to all their irate customers.

There have already been over a thousand complaints to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) about the rising rates and surely there will be thousands more. PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher says the PUC will begin a review of billing practices, including whether or not it has the authority to put caps on variable rates in the future. But she emphasizes that the PUC won’t be able to change bills that have already been received by customers.

So please check your electric bills and review the terms and conditions from your electrical generation supplier. Also, alert your family members, neighbors and friends to check their electric bills. Put the word out on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Don’t become complacent and allow companies such as PA Gas and Electric to get away with such transmission robbery. Also, write an editorial to your local newspaper. Get the word out to everyone!

If you have a complaint especially against PA Gas and Electric contact any or all of the following:

Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of the Attorney General, 301 Chestnut Street, Suite 105, Harrisburg, PA 17101, 717-787-7109

Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of the Attorney General, 801 Hamilton Street, 4th Floor, Allentown, PA 18101, 610-821-6529

PUC, Bureau of Consumer Services, P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265, 1-800-692-7380

PA State Senator Lisa Boscola, 559 Main St, #270, Bethlehem, PA 18018 610-868-8667

PA State Representative Joe Emrick, 134 South Main Street, Nazareth, PA 18064, 610-746-5090

U.S. Sen. Robert Casey Jr., 840 Hamilton St, #301, Allentown, PA 18101, 610-782-9470

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, 1150 S Cedar Crest Blvd, #101, Allentown, PA 18103, 610-434-1444

The more complaints lodged may just lead to action and a better chance of possible refunds, more explicit rules, better communication between companies and their customers and help prevent future financial disasters which have just occurred to many people, especially seniors on fixed incomes. Plus, PA Gas and Electric should be held to their advertised promise of 12% back on their customers’ highest monthly bill to any customer of 12 months or more.

If you need more information on rates go online to check rates, terms and conditions. If a lower rate is possible, switch carriers. But, don’t be tempted by offers of free Visa cards or other gifts unless you fully understand all your options, fixed or variable and cancellation fees if any.

This entire rate debacle occurred due to the fact that on Jan. 1, 2011 the price of electric was no longer regulated by the PUC. This encouraged customers to seek competitive prices from a variety of electric generation suppliers and or gas suppliers, even those from out-of-state. But, there has been a lot of confusion and complaints over rates as these electric generation suppliers now compete for your business.

One other thing, be aware that in the future electric rates may rise significantly for everyone because of the closing down of many coal-fired power plants in the country. This is a result caused by the Obama administration in their war against fossil-burning fuels, especially coal which is the largest domestically produced source of energy in America and is used to generate a significant chunk of our nation’s electricity. In 2010, coal accounted for nearly 45 percent of all power produced in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Many workers at these coal-burning plants are losing their jobs as our energy costs skyrocket, not a good deal.

The New England states are especially worried because the Brayton Point Power Station, the largest of six coal-fired plants in New England will go offline in 2017. And it’s not known how such a large energy loss can be replaced.

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