Updated: November 13, 2019
With the launch of the PA Power Switch website, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave homeowners a convenient way to understand the state’s deregulated energy market. Understanding the basics of how energy gets to your home will help you become a better consumer. The website offers information about energy in PA, including how to shop for a new supplier, how to switch suppliers, how to understand your bill, how to save energy and what your rights are as an energy customer.
If you’ve been considering switching energy providers or are simply curious about what other options are available, a quick visit to the website is the best place to start.
In 1996, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act, which gave residents and business owners in PA the option to choose which company supplies their electric generation. This allowed residents to shop around for the best rates and encouraged suppliers to offer more competitive prices. The act also put a cap on energy rates to create better regulation and prepare the state for deregulation. With time, the law has worked to protect residents and improve their energy consumption.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission then created PA Power Switch, an online tool that Pennsylvania residents can use to search and compare electric suppliers in their area. In Pennsylvania, most homeowners and businesses can choose their electric supplier. This gives Pennsylvania residents more freedom and control over their energy costs. PA Power Switch is an essential tool that helps residents easily find options for electricity suppliers in the state and compare different rates and other information about different suppliers.
PA Power Switch makes it simple to shop around for electricity suppliers. Whether you’re looking to power your home or business, you can find better rates on your electric bill and use the competitive advantage in your favor. When residents have easier access to information about the suppliers that power their homes and businesses, they are better equipped to make an informed decision.
Since PA Power Switch creates more transparency in the industry, suppliers are encouraged to offer their customers the best possible deal. With more choice and information available to them, residents can compare prices, learn more about their supplier, and decide if they want to switch.
Before deregulation, residents and business owners in PA could only get their energy from whichever supplier their utility company chose. On January 1, 2011, residential energy deregulation took effect in Pennsylvania. It’s now possible for consumers to compare electric rates in PA and specify from whom they want to get their energy. What most people don’t understand is that while they may receive a bill from one company, several factors determine the price they pay for electricity:
When you switch power suppliers, you’ll continue to receive the same bill and the same service from your regular utility company. They will also continue to set the administrative and delivery fees you pay each month, but the rate you pay for the energy you use will be different. By shopping around and looking for deals, you may be able to pay less than the market price over the course of the year.
If you decide you want to choose a new electric supplier, you should first consider exactly why you’re looking to switch. Do you have a problem with the price? Is the customer service subpar? Are you looking for a supplier that offers more renewable energy options? These questions will help guide your search and help you compare plans and suppliers in your area.
Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for in a new supplier, go to the PA Power Switch website. Before you start searching for suppliers, read through the information and articles they have available on the site. Once you’ve got a strong understanding of how electric suppliers operate and how to shop electric rates in PA, go to the “Shop for Electricity” tab.
Based on your zip code and current electricity provider, the program will present a list of the other electric suppliers in your area. There, you can compare specific details about the companies, like estimated monthly rates, price structure, additional fees, and term length. If you’re looking for a specific quality, you can also filter the results of your search. If you’re looking for a company that offers a variable price, a fixed price, certain discounts, or renewable energy, you can filter the results so the program will only show suppliers with those features. Be sure to investigate and compare several different suppliers before you make a decision.
Once you’ve looked at all the suppliers in your area and picked one that works for your home or business, click the “Sign Up For This Offer” button to the right of the supplier’s name. The button will bring you to the energy supplier’s website, where you can switch by either signing up through the website or by calling the supplier. The supplier will notify your utility company that you’ve switched. Your utility company will then verify that you want to switch to the new supplier.
Suppliers are required to be transparent in the outline of the contract, put it in words that anyone can understand and limit it to one page. This contract will give you a clearer idea of the exact details of the deal.
During this stage, you should also take advantage of the resources available to you. You can find reviews of different suppliers from real customers to learn more about others’ experiences with different suppliers in your area.
In case you ever want to cancel your agreement with a supplier to switch to a different one, thoroughly read your contract to see if there are any cancellation fees or penalties. You can shop for a new supplier at any time. The effective date of the agreement usually occurs a few days after the utility company receives a notice from the supplier.
Having the freedom to choose which supplier you get your energy from enables you to shop around for the best electric prices and find the best deal for you. Giving homeowners and businesses the freedom to choose their own supplier also creates competition. Like in any industry, this competition results in lower costs. If just one supplier lowers its prices to gain more customers, that forces other suppliers to lower their prices, too.
This competition also makes it easier to find other benefits and perks in an electric supplier. Now that the suppliers have to compete to get the consumers’ attention, they’ll have to offer new benefits and incentives to attract customers. For example, some homeowners and businesses may be looking for suppliers that provide clean energy. While those suppliers might have higher prices, many consumers are willing to pay them because they want to reduce their carbon footprint. Thanks to PA Power Switch and the new state laws, you can shop around for suppliers that offer clean and renewable energy and find the best price.
Once you’ve used PA Power Switch to shop around and compare the suppliers in your area, you’ll need to choose one that’s best for you. While the online tool is a helpful way to compare your options, you still need to gather information about the suppliers on your own before you commit. Suppliers often alter their offers as the market changes, so PA Power Switch might not always be fully up to date.
Before you make the switch to a new supplier, you should always ask questions to make sure you have all the necessary information. While you might be able to answer some questions by browsing their website, you should also call the supplier and speak with a representative. Some examples of questions you might want to ask are:
Electricity bills can look like just a collection of confusing words and numbers if you don’t know how to read them correctly. Luckily, PA Power Switch offers a feature that breaks down each the bill of each utility company in PA. Whichever energy supplier and utility company you choose, they will offer you either a fixed rate or variable rate. To fully understand your agreement, you’ll need to know the difference between these two types of rates:
If you’re a Met-Ed, PPL, Penelec, Duquesne Power and Light, or PECO customer, you have the option of choosing Shipley Energy as your PA Power Switch supplier. We offer both fixed and variable rate plans and have been serving homes and businesses in central PA for 90 years.
See how our plans compare with the competition at the PA Power Switch website or contact us online or by phone to discuss your options with a Customer Care Team member.