The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said it has initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding unusually high bills recently received by customers served by PPL Electric Utilities.
The PUC also said it is investigating the accuracy and integrity of PPL’s billing practices.
The commission said 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.
The announcement from the commission came the same day the president of PPL apologized to customers, saying the electricity provider has “fallen short of (our) standard in both our billing and responsiveness to customers.”
The apology from Steph Raymond comes after PPL used historical usage data to generate estimated bills many customers say seemed far in excess of their past use.
“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,” Raymond said in a written statement Tuesday.
Raymond cited earlier statements from PPL saying the estimated bills resulted from a technical problem that prevented PPL from using actual usage data
for some customers’ bills sent between Dec. 20 and Jan. 9.
She said the problem involved a “significant number of bills.”
Raymond said the problem has been fixed, as has a problem that prevented customers from going online to see their usage data.
“If this impacted you, you have either already received a corrected bill with actual usage or an adjustment on your next monthly bill to ensure you only pay for the electricity you used,” she said.
Raymond further said PPL will waive all late fees for January and February, and won’t shut off power because of late payment for any residential or small-business customers through March 31.
PPL’s default rate for electricity rose in December by an amount expected to add about $22 to the monthly bill of an average customer. However, Raymond said the technical problem that led to the estimated bills is unrelated to the price increase.
PPL said help including payment plans can be found at pplelectric.com/billhelp or by calling 800-342-5775.
The PUC said it encourages consumers to contact PPL with concerns about the accuracy of their bills. The commission said that 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 at 800-692-7380.