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Legislature takes action to protect Pennslyvanian's with variable rate plans

Updated: Friday, March 21 2014, 11:55 AM CDT
Written by: Chris Papst

The legislature is taking action to protect Pennsylvanians with variable rate plans from getting shocked again with gigantic electric bills.

The Public Utility Commission received 9,000 complaints since January from people whose electric bills drastically increase.  Apparently all those calls worked, because the legislature is responding.

 “I don’t know how to pay that bill.  I’m working part time.  I’m in school.  I don’t know how to pay that bill,” said Kadidia Boureima, who had a variable rate electric bill.

This winter, due to a surge in demand and limited supply, the cost of electricity spiked.  And customers like Boureima saw their bills skyrocket.  Her’s went from $33 a month to $136.  This after she was told a variable rate would mean cheaper bills.  “They lie to people,” stated Boureima

Complaints from people like Boureima have now convinced the legislature to act.

"I've have residents who have been abused by some of these energy companies pressuring them to have a variable rate contract,” said Harrisburg Representative Patty Kim.

On Thursday, at the Capitol a public hearing was held to address this issue.  Rep. Patty Kim took part.  But, others in the legislature aren’t wiling to wait.  Earlier this week House Bill 2104 was introduced.  If passed, it would only allow rates to go up once every six months, rise by no more than 100% and mandate full disclosure when electric companies sell their product to customers.  Kim would prefer to see a less knee-jerk response, but says something does need to be done.

"What bothers me is having some of these companies target my low income residents," added Kim. "This is a very complicated issue. And to have someone say you can save money if you sign up, is unfair."

Similar types of public hearings on this topic will also take place in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia later this spring.

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Legislature takes action to protect Pennslyvanian's with variable rate plans

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