Starting June 1, electric rates at PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania, for small and medium sized commercial customers, jumped 33%, to 13.028 cents per kilowatt-hour. Also on June 1, electric rates at PECO jumped 10-13% for small and medium sized businesses, to up to 10.47 cents per kWh.
Customers do not have to pay these rate hikes, and can pay rates substantially lower than the utility's prices (up to 40% lower at PPL), by shopping for a competing electric supplier.
And while shopping among commercial customers is growing in the Pennsylvania energy market, most commercial customers -- particularly the smallest customers who saw the big rate hikes in June -- still buy their power from PPL or PECO.
As of the end of June, some 55% of commercial customers at PPL bought electricity from the utility at the higher rates. At PECO, some 61% of commercial customers continue to buy power supply from PECO.
When you choose a competing electric supplier, the only thing that changes is your bill gets smaller. When you shop for a lower electric rate, PPL or PECO will still deliver your power over their transmission and distribution wires, with no change in service quality. The delivery of power is still regulated by the state's Public Utility Commission, and customers who shop for a lower electric rate receive the same delivery service from the utility as customers who do not shop. When you shop, there is no change in reliability, no special meter to install, and your local utility will still respond to all outages and emergencies in the same manner as it does today.
Finally, it's important to remember that PECO and PPL are not harmed when you switch energy providers, and encourage their customers to shop around in the market. PECO and PPL no longer own power plants, and no longer make money on supplying electricity (they make money on the delivery of supply, which they handle regardless of who you buy your supply from). In other words, the switching of customers to new electric providers has no impact on the utilities' finances or business. Many customers hesitate to shop because the utilities have served the local community well, but shopping does nothing to harm the utilities' bottom line, and the utilities actively encourage customers to evaluate all of their supply options.
The majority of commercial customers at PPL and PECO who still buy their power from the utilities are simply throwing money away, since there is no reliability or other benefit from staying on utility supply.