Business customers at Penelec and West Penn Power in Pennsylvania who do not shop for a lower electric rate from a competing energy supplier have seen their electric rates rise recently.

Penelec and West Penn Power, both owned by FirstEnergy Corp., serve over a million customers in central and western Pennsylvania, including Altoona, Johnstown, and the outer suburbs of Pittsburgh.

Thanks to the competition that has been introduced into Pennsylvania's electric market, customers in Pennsylvania now have the ability to shop for a competing electric supplier offering a lower rate.  However, if a customer does not shop for a competing energy supplier, the local utility provides the customer with their power supply under a program known as "default service."

The default service electric rate changes every 3 months, and it changed at Penelec and West Penn Power on March 1.  The March 1 changes brought higher business electric rates for many business rate classes if customers continue to buy their power supply from Penelec or West Penn Power.  Customers can avoid these rate increases by shopping for a low electric rate.

For example, at West Penn Power, businesses in the General Power Small Service (WP-GP30S) rate class saw their electric rate increase 18% on March 1, with the rate increasing to over 5¢/kWh.  The West Penn Power General Service (WP-GS20) rate class also saw a rate hike on March 1, though at a smaller level.

At Penelec, the electric rate for non-shopping customers in the General Secondary-Small and General Secondary-Medium customer classes increased to nearly 7¢/kWh on March 1.

Though savings vary by individual customer and the specific rate class, businesses at Penelec and West Penn Power shopping for a low electric rate can save 15-20%, or more, versus the utility rate. Deregulation unlocks the power of competition for Pennsylvania electric customers by getting individual electric suppliers to compete head-to-head for your business.  This maximizes your savings, and allows you to avoid the utility rate hikes while saving money on your electric bill.