Jan. 31--The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Tuesday announced it has launched a comprehensive investigation into billing issues impacting PPL Electric customers.
The power company, meanwhile, said it will not shut off power to residential and small-business customers for non-payment through March 31.
As previously reported, many PPL customers throughout the regional have reported receiving unexpectedly high utility bills, including State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, who said he reached out to the PUC.
The PUC on Tuesday said is investigating circumstances surrounding the unusually high bills recently received by customers served by PPL, along with the accuracy and integrity of PPL's billing practices.
The matter has been referred to the PUC's independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement for investigation -- which enforces the state public utility code and PUC regulations.
In addition to the investigation, the Commission continues to encourage consumers to contact PPL with concerns about the size and accuracy of their bills, and work with the utility to explore options for corrected bills, payment options and financial assistance options.
Consumers who do not believe that PPL has addressed their issues or believe that the utility has not responded appropriately to their situation, should contact the PUC's Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS) at 1-800-692-7380. Additionally, consumers who are unable to reach PPL agents or do not receive a response from PPL should contact BCS to report those issues.
Steph Raymond, President of PPL Electric Utilities, Tuesday issued a letter to the utility's customers in which she addressed the issues, and outlined steps taken by the company.
"For some of you, we have not lived up to that promise in our customer service," Raymond said in response to many PPL customers throughout the region who said they received unexpectedly high utility bills. "I can assure you that we will do everything we can going forward to provide the service that you deserve."
The PUC encourages consumers to continue working with PPL to address billing and payment issues and to contact the PUC if the utility is not responsive.
Raymond said as PPL adds more agents to answer calls, the company also wants customers to know that they can find many of the answers and services they need online at -- pplelectric.com -- or by using PPL's interactive voice response system.
PPL said customers can set up a payment plan online, or use the voice response system, available at 1-800-DIAL-PPL.
"Today, I'm reaching out to address these issues, including estimated bills, to share steps we're taking to support our customers, and to explain what it means for you. I also want to take this opportunity to address higher prices for energy supply, which have been the primary driver of higher bills. While we don't control these energy supply costs, we are committed to doing what we can to help you in this challenging time.
"While estimated billing and higher prices are unrelated, together they have fueled a sharp increase in customer calls, resulting in long wait times for many who have tried to contact us.
"If you received an estimated bill or have had difficulty reaching our call center, I apologize. Simply put, you deserve better, and we are committed to regaining your trust."
Actions taken by PPL
Raymond then listed the actions PPL is taking to support its customers:
--First and foremost, PPL has resolved the technical issue that resulted in a significant number of bills that were based on estimated electricity usage. This issue involved bills sent from Dec, 20, 2022, through Jan. 9, 2023. Estimates based on historical usage may have been higher or lower than actual usage. Impacted customers have either already received a corrected bill with actual usage or an adjustment will be made on their next monthly bill to ensure they only pay for the electricity they used.
--By fixing the technical issue, PPL has restored customers' access to detailed usage information online at -- pplelectric.com.
--PPL will not shut off power to residential and small-business customers for non-payment through March 31.
--PPL is waiving all late fees in January and February. Any fees already charged in January will be credited to customer accounts.
--PPL continues to offer payment plans and assistance programs that can help if a customer is struggling to pay their electric bill. This includes self-service options that are available to you online at -- pplelectric.com/billhelp -- or by calling 1-800-DIAL-PPL.
--PPL is adding more agents to answer customer calls and reduce wait times.
Raymond offered ways to reach PPL and self-service options for customers' convenience.
"As we add more agents to answer calls, we also want you to know that you can find many of the answers and services you need online at pplelectric.com or by using our interactive voice response system," Raymond said.
For instance, customers can set up a payment plan online, or by using the voice response system, available at 1-800-DIAL-PPL.
"You have a right to expect excellent service from your electric utility. We know that delivering reliable electricity -- keeping the lights on for you -- must be matched by exceptional customer service," Raymond wrote.
"In recent weeks, we've fallen short of this standard in both our billing and responsiveness to customers."
Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
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