Let there be light: Pocono residents contending with rising energy costs should be aware of available programs and ways to save on their electric bills.
Regional electricity providers like PPL Electric Utilities and Met-Ed (a First Energy company) raised their rates on June 1.
Local provider Met-Ed, raised rates by about 16%, up from 6.832 cents to 7.936 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). PPL raised rates by 38%, up from 8.941 cents to 12.366 cents per kWh. For more information on other rate increases in Pennsylvania, go to puc.pa.gov.
Price changes for Pike County Light & Power are still being calculated, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) said.
According to the PUC, with summer around the corner, "now is the time for consumers to assess energy usage."
Consumers have options to manage higher bills, the PUC said in a press release. "Consumers currently struggling to pay monthly bills should act now and seek assistance by contacting" their utility providers.
The PUC is urging consumers to engage in the #CallUtilitiesNow campaign, which emphasizes the need for direct conversations between struggling customers and utility providers as the "best 'first step' in addressing outstanding bill balances and discussing utility assistance programs."
National programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, as well as hardship fund programs operated by utilities and non-profit organizations, are just a few options for customers.
Utility providers in northeast Pa., like PPL, offer programs such as budget billing, rebates and more. To learn more about such programs, as well as to find a full list of eligible rebates, go to bit.ly/3GKegad. Likewise, MetEd maintains a similar website that includes tips to save on energy and more: bit.ly/3teVS3v.
Tips to curb energy consumption
Energy usage is a key factor in the size of summer energy bills, and there are many ways that consumers can control that usage. The PUC provides the following tips to save:
Pay attention to the thermostat: Every degree you raise or lower the temperature could impact energy costs by up to 3%. Also, consider a programmable thermostat to automatically raise temperatures while you are away from home.
Have your air conditioner serviced: Regular air conditioner maintenance along with clean air filters help ensure efficient operation of your cooling system.
Insulate and seal leaks around your home: Adding insulation, installing storm windows and doors, and sealing cracks and air leaks can help you stay cooler and use less energy.
Install or repair ceiling fans in high-trafficked rooms: Use ceiling fans to circulate the air, keeping the room and you cooler.
Protect windows to reduce heat buildup: Smart landscaping and exterior window coverings are just two ways that you can better protect windows and reduce the impact of heat buildup in your home.
In most areas of Pennsylvania, consumers can choose who supplies their electricity, based on price or other factors, such as renewable energy.
Beginning June 1, most Pennsylvania regulated electric utilities are adjusting the price they charge for the generation portion of customers' bills for non-shopping customers, also known as the "Price to Compare" (PTC). The PTC averages 40% to 60% of the customer's total utility bill. However, this percent varies by utility and by the level of individual customer usage.
According to a release, the PUC does not regulate prices for the generation portion of electric bills. For those customers that do not shop, electric utilities obtain default generation service using a procurement process overseen by the PUC, meaning the electric utility in effect "shops" for the customer. Generation prices are separate from the closely regulated rates that utilities charge for their distribution services.
Customers can also explore their provider's voluntary "Standard Offer Program" where available, which provides customers with the option of receiving service from a competitive supplier at a fixed price that is 7% below the company's current PTC. That Standard Offer price is fixed for a year and can be canceled at any time with no early cancellation or termination fee.
Some energy suppliers may charge a penalty or switching fee, so the PUC recommends customers carefully review their contracts and/or contact your utility provider for more information if you aren't sure.
For more information, call the PUC's Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380. Customers can also shop for new electricity providers online by heading to papowerswitch.com.