Time is running out for Pennsylvania businesses in the Lehigh Valley to avoid rate hikes of up to 36% at PPL Electric Utilities starting January 1, 2010, as the decade-old rate caps expire.  Customers can avoid these rate shocks and save 10-20% on their electric bills by shopping for a new energy provider, but they have to act fast for the change to take effect in time to avoid the higher prices at PPL.

Pennsylvania businesses may choose to buy their electric supply from an alternative energy generation supplier to save money on their electric bills.  However, once the customer chooses their new electric company, the switching process can take up to 45-60 days depending on the customer's billing cycle and when the switch is submitted.  Switches are typically performed when a customer's meter is read, so that the change to a new supplier coincides with a new billing cycle.  Billing cycles can vary from 28 days to up to 35 days depending on where weekends and holidays fall during the month.

That means a customer who switches to a new energy supplier may have to wait 35 days for it to take effect, in cases where they submit a switch just after their last meter read.  Furthermore, there are another dozen or so days built into the switching process for the new energy company and PPL to communicate data back and forth and confirm the switch.  That means a switch may be delayed by about 45 days from the time the customer chooses a new energy provider.

In other words, in order to ensure that a switch occurs before the expiration of rate caps on January 1, 2010, switches need to be submitted prior to about November 15, 2009, meaning customers have precious little time to shop if they still haven't chosen a new electric company yet.