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BUSINESS
April 5, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved new rules to address the public outrage that has erupted over unprecedented winter price spikes. The rule changes, introduced less than three weeks ago, will force competitive energy suppliers to more clearly disclose the details of their offers, especially the risks of variable-rate deals that have generated the most complaints. Another rule change will allow customers to switch energy suppliers in days rather than weeks, allowing customers to exit a bad deal more quickly.
BUSINESS
April 4, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Two competitive electrical suppliers account for more than half of the 5,732 complaints over soaring power bills that Pennsylvania regulators have received in the last two months, according to data released Wednesday. IDT Energy Inc. and Pennsylvania Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), which offer variable-rate electricity deals to residential customers, were the targets of 52 percent of the complaints filed this year, according to the Public Utility Commission. A total of 66 suppliers were listed.
BUSINESS
April 2, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
At the behest of low-income advocates, a Commonwealth Court judge has blocked competitive electricity suppliers from targeting Peco's 140,000 customers who are enrolled in a subsidized program. Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter stopped implementation of a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission order to allow Peco's low-income customers to shop for power until a lawsuit challenging the PUC order is heard. Advocates argued that the PUC's order might make low-income customers susceptible to the kinds of wild price spikes that have roiled electricity markets in recent months, said Harry S. Geller, a lawyer with the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, under siege from record customer backlash over high winter electricity prices, is moving to force power suppliers to fully disclose the details of their deals. The commission proposed Wednesday regulation changes that will require supplier disclosure statements to provide greater uniform detail in plain English, especially pertaining to variable-rate deals, which have generated the most complaints. The new rulemaking measure follows a PUC announcement Tuesday that it would dramatically speed up the time it takes for customers to switch suppliers.
BUSINESS
February 14, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Hai Pham, a retired electronics engineer in Hatfield, knew the variable electric rate he signed up for last November could fluctuate from month to month. But a 259 percent increase in one month? Pham, 60, got walloped last week when he opened his January bill: $664.45. The rate charged by his supplier, American Power & Gas of Pa. L.L.C., of Clearwater, Fla., had gone from 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour in December to 22.63 cents. He's not the only one suffering from sticker shock.
BUSINESS
February 2, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Polar price spikes have already claimed one casualty among the region's competitive energy suppliers. Clean Currents Benefit L.L.C., a renewable energy provider from Silver Spring, Md., stopped taking new accounts and turned its existing customers back to utilities on Friday. The company notified customers on Friday "that the recent extreme weather, which sent the wholesale electricity market into unchartered territories, has fatally compromised our ability to continue to serve customers.
BUSINESS
December 25, 2013 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said Monday that about 19,653 households will enter the winter season without heat-related utility service compared to 15,975 this time last year, and that nearly two-thirds of the customers are in the Philadelphia area. The PUC's annual Cold Weather Survey said Philadelphia Gas Works reported that 9,049 households that heat with natural gas are without service, the highest number of all utilities. A total of 13,508 or 63 percent of the state's shutoff accounts are in the Philadelphia area.
BUSINESS
December 21, 2013 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved a $64,450 settlement with a competitive power supplier that had allegedly tried to switch 2,937 Peco customers in 2011 without authorization. Investigators blamed the "slamming" on a single rogue salesperson for Public Power L.L.C. of Danbury, Conn. The activity was discovered before most of the customers were formally switched to the new supplier. But about 263 customers were actually switched, and the settlement requires the supplier to refund more than $22,000 that they were billed for the time they were served by Public Power.
BUSINESS
November 16, 2013 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Hoist one for the Victory Brewing Co. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved a discounted wastewater treatment rate that should save the Downingtown craft brewer about 21 percent on its monthly sewer bill at its new facility in western Chester County. The Pennsylvania American Water Co. asked the PUC to approve the special bulk rate now given to Arcelor Mittal, which operates a steel mill in Coatesville. The brewer will save about $1,836 off its estimated monthly sewer bill of $8,695 under the typical industrial rate.
NEWS
July 23, 2013 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Peg Keeley last saw her son alive 916 days ago - she keeps count - when Mark Keeley walked out the door of the family's Fox Chase home to work the evening shift at Philadelphia Gas Works. It was Jan. 18, 2011. That cold winter's night, the 19-year-old gas worker was killed when natural gas from a cracked high-pressure main exploded, unleashing a fireball so powerful it destroyed two rowhouses on Torresdale Avenue in Tacony. Mark Keeley was just outside the chiropractor's office that blew up, drilling holes in the street to let gas trapped below the pavement escape.
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