Hearing held in Harrisburg about skyrocketing electric bills

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - After hearing from customers about skyrocketing electric bills, lawmakers appeared interested in making legislative changes during a hearing in Harrisburg Thursday.

The House Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing examining variable-rate electric plans – rates that fluctuate with the market and exploded in January.

Channel 11’s Gordon Loesch was in Harrisburg for the hearing.

“It’s not gouging.  It’s the reality of the market,” said PUC chairman Robert Powelson.

The PUC has received more than 1,200 complaints about variable-rate plans but said it has taken no action against suppliers though some of the same companies have been fined in other states.

Although suppliers were invited to the hearing, only their trade organizations showed up.

“We are aware there’s a degree of customer frustration, and there are suppliers that have better service practices than others,” said Ritchie Hudson of the Retail Energy Supply Association.

The committee is considering implementing a cap on variable-rate plans.

Industry groups oppose the new regulation, calling it a knee-jerk reaction.

Another big development on Thursday – the PUC wants to change the rules that require customers to wait more than 30 days to switch electric suppliers. They want that shortened to just three days.