Businesses in central and western Pennsylvania who are served by Penelec or West Penn Power are facing electric rate hikes starting December 1, 2013 unless they shop for an alternative supplier for their power supplies.

On December 1, the "Price to Compare" at Penelec and West Penn Power (both of which are FirstEnergy utilities) will increase for most small and medium commercial customers (rate classes noted below). The Price to Compare is the electric rate for power supplied by the utility to customers who do not choose a competing electric supplier, under a program known as "default" service. If a competing electric supplier offers an electric rate below the Price to Compare for your electricity supply, you will save money versus buying from the local utility.

At West Penn Power, the Price to Compare is scheduled to increase over 12 percent on December 1, 2013, to 6.233 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), for the commercial customer class, which includes General Service (WP-GS20) and General Power Small Service (WP-GP30S). This new Price to Compare, filed by West Penn Power in an updated tariff, does not include the State Tax Adjustment Surcharge (STAS), which has a negligible impact on the final rate.

The current commercial Price to Compare at West Penn Power is about 5.5 cents per kWh.

Business customers at West Penn Power don't have to pay the new, higher Price to Compare if they shop for an alternative supplier of electricity.

By shopping for a new supplier, small and medium commercial customers at West Penn Power can find savings versus not only the rate hike, but can also find rates below the current Price to Compare of 5.5 cents per kWh. This means that customers can save over 15 percent versus the December 1 utility price just by shopping for a new electric supplier.

Commercial electric customers at Penelec will also see an electric rate hike on December 1 unless they shop for power. Specifically, the Penelec Price to Compare will increase to 7.666 cents per kWh on December 1 for the commercial customer class, including Rate GS-Small and Rate GS-Medium (excluding any impact from the STAS).

Competing electric suppliers are currently offering Penelec commercial customers electric rates under 7 cents per kWh, meaning savings of 10-15 percent.