Skyrocketing electric bills: Channel 11 finds customer who got rebate

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PITTSBURGH —

The Public Utility Commission is getting more and more complaints about sudden and steep increases in electricity bills.
 
The PUC said it has received more than 2,500 complaints since January.
 
Target 11 has been telling its viewers about the skyrocketing bills for the past few weeks, and on Tuesday we talked to a man who was able to get a refund.
 
People who signed up for the variable rate plans, which fluctuate with the market, have been hit the hardest, seeing their electric bills double or triple.
 
Ray Bell told Channel 11’s Gordon Loesch he switched to a variable rate electric plan last year – a plan he thought would save him money.
 
“I was more or less listening that it was going to be cheaper,” said Bell.
 
But his January bill is one he can’t afford – double what’s normal for about the same amount of electricity.
 
The diabetic amputee had a stroke in December and he's on a government supplemented and limited income.
 
His mother called their electric supplier, Pennsylvania Gas and Electric.
 
“I explained to the representative his health issues and everything, and he explained to me that they would send out a check,” said Bell’s mother, June Elliott.

Bell received a rebate of more than $150.

“In some cases, because suppliers have a cost to acquire customers, they are rolling back rates,” said PUC Chairman Rob Powelson.
 
The PUC said some customers have been able to negotiate with their suppliers with some getting rebates.  Loesch has heard of few getting help.
 
The PUC has no control over rates and said it doesn’t have the authority to order a refund unless a violation of the public utility coded or PUC regulations is found.
 
Despite getting a rebate, Bell said he’s looking for a new supplier.