PUC Alerts Consumers Utility Natural Gas Costs Will Be Going Up By As Much As 128%, Electric Costs Will Be Going Up By As Much As 34%; Both Driven By Cost Of Natural Gas On World Markets
On November 15, the Public Utility Commission alerted natural gas and electric utility customers that natural gas costs will be going up by as much as 128 percent and electric costs by as much as 34 percent on or about December 1.
Natural Gas Costs
The PUC said this natural gas companies will be changing to cost of natural gas they provide to customers on or about December 1--
-- Columbia Gas of PA, up from $0.32613 to $0.7457 per therm (+128%);
-- National Fuel Gas, down from $0.9038 to $0.8778 per Ccf (-2.9%);
-- PECO, down from $0.8346 to $0.8179 per Ccf (-2%);
-- Peoples Natural Gas Co., down from $8.713 to $8.1342 per Mcf (-6.6%);
-- Peoples Gas Co. LLC, down from $8.713 to $8.1342 per Mcf (-6.6%);
-- Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), down from $0.9381 to $0.8999 per Ccf (-4.2%);
-- UGI Utilities, up from $0.85979 to $0.86063 per Ccf (+1%); and
-- Valley Energy, up from $0.41748 to $0.82047 per Ccf (+96.5%).
Changes in the purchased gas costs for PECO, PGW and UGI Utilities are anticipated on December 1. Any adjusted prices for those utilities will be available soon.
Natural gas costs generally make up averages 40% to 60% of the customer’s total utility bill, depending on the level of individual customer usage.
[Note: The PUC reported previously, natural gas utilities have increased their natural gas costs to its customers by as much as 154 percent over the last year. These increases are on top of the previous increases. Read more here.
[The increase in natural gas costs are the result of changes in the cost of natural gas on world markets driven by the Russian war in Ukraine.]
It is important to note that gas utilities are required to provide reliable natural gas service at the least possible cost.
Every natural gas utility company is routinely audited by the PUC to ensure the Gas Cost Recovery they are passing on to their consumers reflects the costs the company paid and that every effort was made to purchase the natural gas for the least possible price.
Beginning December 1, electric distribution companies report the following changes in their PTCs for residential customers:
-- Citizens Electric, up from 9.3667 cents to 12.2259 cents per kWh (+31%);
-- Duquesne Light, estimated increase from 9.36 cents to 11.25 cents per kWh (+20.2%);
-- Met-Ed, up from 9.397 cents to 10.303 cents per kWh (+10%);
-- PECO, up from 8.508 cents to 9.855 cents per kWh (+15.8%);
-- Penelec, down from 10.021 cents to 9.889 cents per kWh (-1%);
-- Penn Power, up from 10.348 cents to 10.511 cents per kWh (+2%);
-- Pike Co. Light & Power, 1 PTC not finalized - currently at 12.8994 cents per kWh;
-- PPL, up from 12.366 cents to 14.612 cents per kWh (+18%);
-- UGI Electric, no PTC change on Dec. 1 from the current 12.903 cents per kWh;
-- Wellsboro Electric, up from 9.592 cents to 12.816 cents per kWh (+34%); and
-- West Penn Power, up from 8.306 cents to 8.517 cents per kWh (+3%).
[Note: The increase in electricity costs are primarily the result of changes in the cost of natural gas on world markets driven by the Russian war in Ukraine.]
The PUC notes that electric utilities are required to procure energy at the least possible cost. However, the Commission does not regulate prices for the generation portion of electric bills.
Generation prices are separate from the closely regulated rates that utilities charge for their distribution services – the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses.
Explore Customer Assistance Programs
The PUC continues to encourage struggling consumers to #CallUtilitiesNow, noting that direct conversations between struggling customers and utilities are the best “first step” in addressing outstanding bill balances and discussing utility assistance programs.
Public utilities are the first and most direct mechanisms to link struggling households with much-needed assistance.
Utilities understand the assistance programs available in their communities for income-qualified consumers – including utility-run Customer Assistance Programs, national programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and various hardship fund programs operated by utilities and non-profit organizations.
Utilities also can help enroll consumers in assistance programs, guide them to other available resources and discuss new payment plan options to address overdue balances and help consumers move forward.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2022-23 winter heating season opened on Nov. 1, 2022.
Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP and other public assistance programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us or by phone at 1-866-550-4355.
On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties.
The PUC’s electric shopping website PAPowerSwitch.com and natural gas shopping website PAGasSwitch.com have interactive sections with more easy consumer tips for saving energy.
Understanding Your Electric Supplier’s Contract
Consumers who have contracts with competitive suppliers should make sure that they understand all terms and conditions contained in their supplier contract.
The terms and conditions are found in the contract’s disclosure statement – including but not limited to the contract’s expiration date and any terms and conditions for terminating a contract.
Consumers that already have an agreement with an electric supplier and want to switch to a different supplier, or return to default service with their electric utility, should carefully review their contract’s disclosure statement to see if there are any penalty/switching fees or cancellation fees.
Call your current supplier if you are not sure.
Additionally, consumers should be aware that at the end of a supplier’s contract, they will receive two contract renewal notices: an Initial Notice 45-60 days prior to the contract’s expiration date; and then an Options Notice at least 30 days prior to the end of the contract.
After receiving a second contract renewal notice, consumers should not stay silent and make sure to choose one of the options mentioned in the notice.
If a customer fails to respond with one of these options, they may automatically remain with the current supplier on a month-to-month basis without any early termination fees.
PUC Consumer Services
Customers who have questions about the end of their contract should contact their current supplier and, if there is a problem, then contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380.
More information on understanding a contract with an electric generation supplier and electric switching can be found here on PAPowerSwitch.com.
Managing Energy Usage
Energy usage is a key factor in the size of winter energy bills, and there are many ways that consumers can control that usage. Energy saving tips include:
-- 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 lower temperatures while you are away from home.
-- Have your furnace serviced – Regular furnace maintenance along with clean air filters help ensure efficient operation of your heating 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 warmer and use less energy.
Install or repair ceiling fans in high-trafficked rooms – Many people can reverse the direction of ceiling fans to clockwise to produce an updraft and move warmer air near the ceiling downward, keeping the room and you warmer.
-- Consider resetting your water heater thermostat – Water heaters are the second highest source of energy usage in the home, and many people have the thermostat on their water heater set too high. Setting the temperature on your water heater a few degrees cooler can help save money on your energy bills.
-- PennLive: High Prices, Volatile Markets Make For Uncertain Heating Season Across Central PA
-- TribLive: Homeowners Brace For Winter As Prices To Heat Homes Skyrocket, Biggest Spike Is For Natural Gas - More Than 34% Increase
-- Altoona Mirror: Cost Of Heating Oil Raises Concerns As Winter Nears; Price Went From Just Over $3/Gallon In Oct. 2021 To $6.45/Gallon On Oct. 24; Big Surge In People Getting Heat Pumps
-- PA PUC: Cost Of Natural Gas Provided By Major Utilities In PA Increased As Much As 154% Over Last Year [PaEN]
[Posted: November 15, 2022]
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