Causer Co-Sponsors Rate Cap Bill

With rate caps on the state's electricity services set to expire in the next two years, Rep. Martin Causer is co-sponsoring legislation that would provide price stability and predictability to consumers who have grown wary of rising energy prices.

"The skyrocketing costs of oil and gas, and subsequent rise in food prices, have taken a huge financial toll on families and businesses," Causer said. "Many Pennsylvanians simply cannot bear the significantly higher electric rates that will come with the expiration of rate caps. We must enact comprehensive legislation now to protect consumers."

Pennsylvania's electric industry was deregulated in the mid-1990s to bring competition to the electricity generation market. At that time, rates were capped at 1997 levels. Other states that deregulated earlier than Pennsylvania have seen substantial price spikes when their rate caps came off, and some areas of Pennsylvania where caps have already expired are also seeing soaring rates.

State House Democrats are advancing legislation that would extend the rate caps so they expire later. However, many lawmakers are concerned that will only make the problem worse for consumers when the caps do expire, and they must be allowed to expire in order for electric companies to continue making the necessary investments to meet consumer demand. Additionally, electric companies could file suit against the Commonwealth if the rate caps are extended.

"The House Democrat proposal fails to deal with the underlying problem," Causer said. "It does nothing to truly help consumers or the electricity market."

House Republicans are instead advancing a plan that would phase in the increased rates over a three-year period to help consumers adjust to possible increases. It also includes elements to help educate consumers about conservation, which could help offset the increased rates and reduce demand.

House Bill 2300 was crafted by members of the House Republican Policy Committee's Energy Task Force, of which Causer is a member. The bill would also:

· Require utility companies to provide customers with valuable information about energy-saving tips and technologies to lower their electric bills.

· Provide electric price stability for customers by ensuring rates are changed only on a quarterly basis.

· Empower customers to plan ahead by allowing them to voluntarily pay in advance for any expected rate increases and receive 6 percent interest on any prepaid amounts.

· Ensure programs are in place to assist low-income customers once rate caps expire.

· Implement guidelines affecting the way utility companies purchase electricity from generators, providing safeguards against inflated electric prices for customers while promoting the use of traditional and alternative energy sources.

The bill was sent to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, on which Causer serves as a member, for consideration.



For more on this issue, read Senator Lisa Boscola's comments.

Comments

Anonymous said…
This quote from Causer shows the politician in him.

"Implement guidelines affecting the way utility companies purchase electricity from generators, providing safeguards against inflated electric prices for customers while promoting the use of traditional and alternative energy sources."


He knows that wind power is very expensive electricity to produce and will never add electricity to the grid that does not have to be backed up by conventional power and that the electicity produced by wind turbines is more expensive than any other source and will raise the electric bills ontop of the rates, once the caps come off. But yet, because every one expects him to promote Wind turbines, he does. Looks like I will find someone else to vote for next election.

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