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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 3, 2020 03:27 PM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Improving Transparency and Options for Consumers of Electric and Natural Gas and Accountability for Retail Suppliers
In the near future, I will reintroduce Senate Bill 1365 from last session to facilitate the process when consumers switch from default electric and natural gas providers, and ensure greater transparency in pricing among providers.   In addition, the legislation will require retail electric and natural gas suppliers and their representatives to be certified through a training and education course on “the rules of the road” in marketing electric and natural gas products to consumers. 
When Pennsylvania passed a law to allow consumers to shop for energy suppliers, this change was hailed as an opportunity for lower utility prices and a pro-consumer market. While those changes have been helpful, barriers still exist that make it more difficult to change natural gas and electric distributors.  Moreover, while most retail suppliers have acted responsibly and appropriately when marketing cost-effective and innovative energy products to consumers, there have been a few unscrupulous actors which have not acted in such a manner, which is unacceptable. 
My legislation will provide the Public Utility Commission with parameters to make it easier for consumers to switch utility providers. Under current law, consumers must locate an account number associated with their current service. My bill will allow consumers to show a government-issued ID or provide an account number in order to make the switch to a more affordable utility.  
Furthermore, my legislation will require default service providers to separately breakout their costs associated with serving as a supplier and distributor. I believe consumers should have the ultimate choice in their utility provider and this will help those consumers understand the costs associated with the services they receive.  
Finally, my legislation will require all retail electric and natural gas suppliers and their representatives marketing their products in Pennsylvania to pass a required online training and education exam and be certified by the Public Utility Commission.  This costs for implementation and administration of the exam would be borne by the suppliers through their licensing fee.   Pennsylvania would join Maryland and the District of Columbia in enacting this measure to provide enhanced accountability to retail energy markets. 
I often hear from individuals who are struggling with high energy costs during peaks in the hottest days of the summer and the coldest days of the winter. This legislation will provide consumers with greater flexibility and transparency to find the best option that fits their budget, while also bringing enhanced professionalism and competency to their energy shopping experience.  

Previous co-sponsors include Senators J. Ward and Blake.

Introduced as SB277