PUC Marks 20th Anniversary Of Electric Competition, 14 Consecutive Months Of Growth

The Public Utility Commission Thursday commemorated the 20th Anniversary of The Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act of 1996, which for the first time gave the Commonwealth’s residential and business customers the ability to choose who supplies their electric generation. 

PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown announced the Commonwealth’s competitive electric market experienced 14 consecutive months of sustained growth since early last fall. 

As of the end of November, nearly 2.1 million Pennsylvania electricity customers (or 36.9 percent) currently receive their electric generation from a competitive supplier. 

The November 2016 figure reflects a 3.5 percent increase in the total number of shoppers from September 2015, when the statewide monthly shopping number last dropped.

“For two decades, Pennsylvania has stood on the national forefront of electric competition, putting the power of choice in the hands of consumers and giving them greater control of their electric bills,” said Chairman Brown.  “As a result of this historic legislation, millions of electricity customers have made choices and saved money, purchased renewable products and explored innovative new offers and plans.”

Current and past state leaders, legislative and agency staff, consumer advocates and industry leaders joined current and former PUC Commissioners to mark the electric choice milestone following the Commission’s regularly scheduled public meeting. 

Highlighting the ceremony were messages from both current Gov. Tom Wolf, who proclaimed electric competition as an example of “Government That Works,” and former Gov. Tom Ridge, who signed the bill into law on Dec. 3, 1996.

During her remarks Chairman Brown unveiled the results of a recent Commission survey showing that almost all respondents (94 percent) are aware that they have the ability to shop for their own electric provider, and of those who know they have the ability to switch electric providers, four out of 10 consumers state that they have switched electric providers.

Other key findings of the survey include:

-- Over three-quarters of consumers who have switched electric providers state that the process of switching was very/extremely easy.

-- The largest motivating factor behind switching electric providers is to lower monthly electricity bills, with the 45 to 64 age group being more likely to say that reduced costs are primary factors, more so than the 18 to 44 and 65-plus age groups.

-- Over half of the respondents who have not switched electric providers say this is due to them being happy with their current electric provider, with the 65-plus age group more likely to say that is a major factor, as compared to the 18 to 44 and 45 to 64 age groups.

-- PAPowerSwitch.com, the PUC’s neutral source for power shopping information, is a trusted resource to which respondents turn for information about electric providers, and it will be an educational and helpful resource in the future when making electric provider decisions.

Of the consumers who visit PAPowerSwitch.com:

-- Ninety percent somewhat/strongly agree that the website provides helpful information.

-- Eighty-seven percent are very/extremely satisfied.

-- Seventy percent say that the website is very/extremely easy to navigate.

PAPowerSwitch.com Upgrade

The PUC also announced upgrades to PAPowerSwitch to make the site fully responsive no matter what kind or size of device they use, with updated cleaner and easier navigation; a more attention-grabbing way for visitors to learn more about individual offers on the shopping pages; consolidated pages; and enhanced security. 

Over the last two years, nearly 1.9 million visitors have shopped for electric supply offers using PAPowerSwitch.

For more information, visit the PUC’s Electricity webpage.

(Photo: Some of the people that made competition possible  in 1996.)


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