Heading into summer, numbers on the thermometer and on your electric bill will be going up.
“June 1 happens to be one of those magic dates where every electric utility in Pennsylvania is resetting their energy prices,” said Nils Hagen-Frederiksen with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Hagen-Frederiksen explained the cost increase is not to make money, but rather to account for rising global energy costs.
“The price of every type of fuel has really been increasing since last fall,” he said. “Utilities, by law, cannot earn a profit on those charges, but they also don’t take a loss.”
Electric bills are broken into two parts: charges for the electricity you consume and charges to maintain the infrastructure.
It’s about a 50-50 split. Only the cost of energy consumed is rising. That portion of the bill is set to increase about 45% for West Penn customers, according to the PUC.
For Penn Power customers, the increase will be 23%. For the average household, that will mean an extra $12 to $20 per month.
“West Penn Power’s residential price to compare effective June 1 will increase about 44 percent from 5.67 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 8.2 cents per kWh. For the typical residential West Penn Power customer using 750 kWh of electricity per month, the monthly bill would rise from $74.91 to $93.89 for an overall bill increase of about 25 percent. Keep in mind that roughly 50 percent of the electric bill is for the electricity itself. The price to compare that changes, and the other half is for West Penn Power to deliver it to homes and businesses through our wires. Distribution rates that do not change quarterly,” said a spokesperson from West Penn Power.
The change in prices for West Penn Power is believed to be the result of the rising costs seen throughout the power industry as a whole.
“The price to compare is increasing due largely to increases in the cost of natural gas and other commodities used as fuel to generate power,” said the spokesperson.
Duquesne Light has not yet released its new costs, but they are expected to be in line with the others.
“The electricity you don’t use is the cheapest electricity you’re ever going to get,” said Hagen-Frederiksen.
To limit usage and cut costs, you can use fans instead of cranking up your air conditioning, unplug unused appliances, run only full loads of laundry and take other conservation measures.
In most parts of the state, you can also shop around and find the energy supplier with the cheapest rates.
“The more electricity you use, generally, the more likely you are to shop because those cents per kilowatt hour or partial cents per kilowatt hour add up at the end of the month,” said Hagen-Frederiksen.
Experts caution that if you are going to shop around for suppliers, make sure you read the fine print of your contract and know what you’re signing up for.
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