School Closings & Delays

Some Electric Customers See Rates Double, Even Triple

HAZLETON – Have you seen your electric bill this month?

Some of the half million area homes and businesses, who recently switched from PPL to certain alternative electricity suppliers, are getting a jolt of sticker shock.

Tom Percosky of Hazleton recently switched from PPL to Harrisburg-based PG&E, an alternative energy supplier. He used 20% less electricity in January than December.

Yet his bill almost doubled.

“I almost fell over. I`m here 30 years. I`ve never had a bill like this in my life,” said Percosky.

Brian Machowski of South Abington Township switched power suppliers from PPL to Georgia-based Great American Power last year.

“They were stating that their rates would be lower than PPL`s.  And everybody in this economy is trying to save money,” said Machowski, who claims he saved about 120 dollars last year by making the switch.

His January bill shows he used about 10-percent more electricity than in December, yet his bill almost tripled.

“$720-dollars and 40 cents.  I was shocked, outraged,” said Machowski.  “I thought it was a typo.”

“The customers aren`t examining the contracts closely enough,” said PPL spokesman Rich Beasley. “Variable rates, and the extremely low temperatures have created a situation where in some cases, bills may be doubled or even tripled.”

Beasley believes some alternative suppliers didn`t buy enough electricity for January`s extra demand caused by the sustained deep freeze.

To meet that demand, suppliers paid premium prices at the last-minute . Passing on the costs to customers whose variable rate contracts leave them vulnerable to drastic price hikes.

“Variable goes up a little bit,” claimed Brian Machowski, “variable doesn`t go up three times what it was the last year.”

Machowski is so frustrated, he switched to another alternative energy supplier for what he thinks is a better deal.

In Hazleton, Tom Percosky says PG&E offered a rebate when he threatened to find another supplier.

“The offer was $150, I said,’no that’s not acceptable,” said the Hazleton native who is going back to PPL.

Despite several calls, representatives from Great American Power, and Pennsylvania Gas and Electric did not call back to let us know why the companies raised the rates so much.

Meantime State Lawmakers, including Marty Flynn of Scranton, are looking a bill that would force alternative energy suppliers to give a months notice before raising rates at steep levels.

28 comments

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  • Ben

    I get it… You all would prefer for the Government to regulate everything and just rake us over the coals themselves… That hasn’t worked out quite so well either.
    I switched a year ago, locked in a fixed rate with a trusted supplier, and have enjoyed the benefits of deregulation through this whole fiasco.
    Educate yourself as a consumer before making a decision, and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • sumo300

      Government regulation? I think you missed the point. Customers were lied to and/or given absolutely no warning. Customers have rights without having to get big government involved, but because of deregulation, companies have found a loophole to basically charge whatever they want when you get suckered into a variable rate like I did. I’m happy that it worked out for you. For me, PPL will be my only company for the foreseeable future.

  • Mike

    Just got our generation bill from Respond Power. Rates tripled from $0.0699 to almost $0.20. We only have electric heat, so, we now apparently owe over $1,500 for a residential account due to a cold Februrary. This company has guts. We just signed up at that rate and one month later, that’s the increase they have graced their customers with. And, their current rate on PA Power Switch (papowerswitch.com) is still only $0.09 if I were to switch today. Gutsy. Very gutsy Respond. I could see the increase from $0.06 to $0.09 due to fluctuations in their cost due to being on a variable rate, but it feels illegal to be able to triple the rate just the 2nd month into a contract.

    Along with all of the other contacts, I’d advise tweeting publicly about it. Their feed is far to chipper and is not reflecting what they are doing to their customers. https://twitter.com/RespondPower

  • Cindy Williams

    I switched to PG&A and am outraged at my electric bill since I did. I had thought we did everything right by insulating and putting up new siding and replacing all our windows and doors for better protection from the cold. Apparently not! Our Dec 2013 bill was $450 (double the normal amount), Jan 2014 came in at $650 and now Feb 2014 is $1100. Something is wrong here. We live in a 5 room house and there are only two of us. We live on Social Security and have health problems that take a good bunch of our money so with the other bills it doesn’t leave much extra to pay this inflated bill. I guess the Amish have the right idea and don’t use electricity. Someone needs to help these electric distributors realize people rely on their word. I guess you can’t trust anyone these days!

  • Wil

    When I switched to PG&E, the rep on the phone never said anything about this being a variable rate, just that I would be able to save money. My bill went from $112/monthh to $250/month. I’m trying to switch back to PP&L but can’t get in touch with PG&E.

  • AnnC

    One of the biggest problems with these suppliers is they aren’t on the up and up with you. They charge a large fee if you decide to switch back to PPL before your contract is up(as much as 200). Most people I know weren’t aware of this Also, you’re only saving a few cents per kilowatt, under normal conditions.

    I know this because my daughter thought she was going to be helping out friends and relatives and make money doing it. She found this stuff out during her orientation and they told her not to bring it up unless someone asked. Nice thing to do to your friends and family. Needless to say she backed out and told us about it before she made any sales.

    And now this is going on. I feel bad for anyone that switched. I’m just glad it wasn’t me.

  • Gail M

    The business I work for (I am the office mgr) contracted with On Demand Energy along with several other businesses in an energy pool through our local chamber of commerce. The promotion to join this “pool” was that we could purchase larger amounts of energy when the price was low and stockpile it for when the price went up. Well, it worked pretty well for 3 3/4 yrs, but now our monthly electric energy went from $450 to $1300 for one month from Direct Energy, the supplier. When I contacted On Demand, I was told that they did not expect the demand country-wide with the historical cold weather and had basically run out of the lower cost stockpiles. Since our contract is not up until May I was told to expect the rate at .19/kw to extend into the next 2 months. Our small business is not budgeted for this and the owner and I are sick over this. I can only imagine the businesses who have large office/mfg. bldgg, and their increases must be astronomical. So we were not protected by being this ‘pool” at all!

  • Karen

    I want to add to this true scam by also noting that these other companies solicit for new accounts -with all their so called ‘savings’ in October – knowing that they will be on your bill for the heating season – then when you discover the rates doubled (mine did after a 2 year lock in) so I changed back to PPL -but had to wait at least 2 billing cycles – right in the middle of winter of course – so they really nail you – to make up for any ‘savings’ you did get.
    Also know that PPL is hoping that the Gov. Corbit will allow PPL to use collection agencies and lawfirms to get overdue bills. As a small business I was also told that there was no ‘payment’ plan for commerical accounts – and I did receive a notice to shut off on the day in January when it was 15 below!! I have paid on time for decades – have been paying weekly to try to catch up on the insane bill I got last year – and they said ‘keep it up to date’ or we can shut it off at any time.
    When I asked PPL to assess my account for lower rates – they said ‘convert to natural gas’ . . . they own that too.
    I talked to someone who worked as a telemarketer for one of the ‘other’ power providers and he said ‘I can’t even tell you how much I lied’ ‘it was sickening – if I didn’t need the job so bad I never would’ve taken it.
    Please news investigation STAY ON TOP OF THIS!! I can’t imagine how already broke households are going to handle this!

  • Heywood

    You people are all suckers! Did you really believe you were going to save any money by buying electricity from another suplier that has to buy it from the same company you started with that probably generates it in the first place??? “Here’s your sign.”

    • wendy

      SERIOUSLY THE LAST THING THESE PEOPLE NEED IS FOR YOU TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY. DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND READ WHERE PP&L IS GOING TO EVENTUALLY JUST BE THE SUPPLIER, THEY WANT OUT OF SALES AND LITERALLY SEND CUSTOMERS LETTERS STATING THE FACTS ALONG WITH THE ADVISEMENT TO SHOP AROUND AND SWITCH. YOU OBVIOUSLY DONT RUN A HOUSEHOLD OR YOU WOULD REALIZE WHY THESE PEOPLE MADE THEIR CHOICES. TELL MOM AND DAD TO ENLIGHTEN YOU WITH THE LITERATURE COMING FROM PPL, READ IT IN THE PAPER, GOGGLE IT AND HEY WHILE YOUR AT IT READ “YOUR SIGN” !!! HAVE A GREAT DAY

      • Heywood

        You know what they say when you ASSume Wendy? I run a household and a business, sorry to inform you. Nice of you to bring my disabled mother and dead father into your assumtion.

        Anyway, I had a friend try to sign me up and have me sell electricity for a company called Ignite. I watched as every person he signed up eventually switch back to PPL because after 3 months their rates were more than before.

        Sorry I have not read any literature from PPL, my bill is paperless.

        You can have your sign back now!

  • prof. crunch

    The video stated, “State lawmakers are drawing up a bill to give customers a months notice before raising rates”. They will still make a Hugh profit by ripping off customers who switch, because it takes two months billing cycles to make a switch. You can only imagine the sky high bill for that last month.
    Big deal. Not much help there. But of course what did you expect from lawmakers.

  • Ron

    When they deregulated the the the energy prices our politicians knew that the power company’s would catch a few suckers off guard and the company’s would make big profit and our politicians would get something added to their campaign contributions

    • Tom T

      Sadly they are catching more than a few, and a good number of them are senior citizens who have a tendency to trust people when they advertise or tell them some sales lie as in the past, unlike today, a man`s word could be taken to the bank. Politicians sold this deregulation idea on the premise that it would spurn competition just the way they sold people on greater development for lowering taxes. Both did not happen. I cannot stress enough, DO NOT PICK A VARIABLE RATE. When you do it starts low and after that the sky is the limit.
      All the fixed rates are pretty much with range of each other but they are fixed. Also pick a contract with no penalty for switching.

      • Ron

        Isn’t this variable rate the electric co. use the same thing as the banks called their floating in interest rate ?

  • William goring

    I sit here reading these comments and can only think that this is unlawful and pretty much criminal for power supply companies to not have a certain cap or percentage above a prime rate price that they can lawfully be allowed to charge. it is pretty ridiculous!!!! I signed on with pg&e 2 months ago with what I too was misled to believe was a good price of .0740 cents per kilowatt and opened my bill last night when I got home from work to realize my price per kilowatt was increased from .0740 to .2915 that’s roughly 4 times the amount I was told!!! a bill that should have been $141.41 is $537.96. that is just robbery at its finest!!! not to mention I did as many other people did and ran fast but was told it will take 2 billing cycles before a more competitive company can save me and until that point I am forced and have no choice but to deal with and expect the same or even more of a beating before my account changes hands!!!! is that fair? did I break the law? I feel like i’m being treated like a criminal and there is nothing I can do about it!! everyone who has similar problems should call and file a complaint to: Pennsylvania public utility commission 800-692-7380, office of consumer advocates 800-684-6560, attorney generals office, Pennsylvania’s better business bureau and maybe even the state representatives office. honestly I think there should be a class action lawsuit against these utility companies so we can get out hard earned money back!!! if any body else can help with any other options to remedy this situation please post your comments and opinions!!!

    • Tom T

      Your correct it is a scam. Many people have gotten sucked into this with what was the lowest rate on the list only to get hosed before they could switch. I did both of what you suggested. I never got the problem resolved with consumer protection and the P.U.C. agreed with me that there should be a 2 month notice period giving the customer time to switch before they get robbed. Then they told to show up at a meeting in Harrisburg to speak out about it. I am a senior citizen who lives a long way from Harrisburg. Your best route is to contact your state representative. No other agency cares enough or is motivated enough to help with our problems with rip off generation agencies that pedal bogus contracts for generation supply. Of course, contacting them you are contacting the very people who let this happen in the first place.
      What I have done is to try to warn as many people as I can. It is a scam that is legal.

    • wendy

      Wow I am getting so frustrated reading these post and learning how people are being scammed. I never switched from pp&l because of being able to do a budget acct. Can I ask if any of these other companys that are ripping everyone off are willing to let yas make payment arrangements? If so I would pay what little required and switch back to pp&l and either pay the theives what and when you can, or just pay what your bill should have cost and let them fight for the rest and hopefully they will have already gotten busted and you wont be held for it or ruin your credit. Good luck to you all, and know that allthough im not a victim, I will gladly try and help. Strength comes in numbers and united we shall stand. P.s. our home utilizes oil heat and our finances are being “raped” trying to keep our home warm. How can it keep rising! Wendy

    • William Naugle

      Same thing happen to me Friday.Fought with Pg&e last month and they sent me $51.00 which brought my rate down.Now 29 cents per kwh no way.They said when I switch they would be one cent lower than pp&l and by god I am going to hold them to it.This is my last bill with them because I switched.Monday am on the phone!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrea

    My bill more than tripled! This month I was charged $.28, with my bill totaling $1200 with PAG&E!! Still trying to get this resolved. If not, I’m filing complaints with the PUC, local and state representatives, and with whomever else I can to stop these crooks!

  • prof. crunch

    I have been there and done that and filed a complaint with not only the P.U.C. but also my State Representative. This is a scam. Do NOT go into a variable rate contact. It starts out very low and then doubles or even triples
    and it takes two months to switch. The deal is, they keep signing up customers and doing the same thing over with a whopping profit. I started at .06 something and within a month or so I was up over .107 a kilowatt.
    The proposal as I understand it at the P.U.C. is to pass a rule requiring
    these companies to give 2 months notice before raising the rate through
    the roof thereby giving the customer time to make the change before the rate goes up. For some reason, I have not seen any movement on the rule.
    An Allentown newspaper also reported on this with other stories of people,
    particularly senior citizens who were ripped off. Stay with a fixed rate.

    • wendy

      By all means report this to everyone and anyone, but please if you can publicise what these theives are doing then please do so. So many people young and elderly dont utilize computers. Therefore they arent hearing this and will fall victim. We have a column in our paper called thunder and lightning where you can call in and have concerns or comments printed free of charge. I personally think most papers would want to do a personal story on this with any victim willing to call and share their story. Word of mouth and all media available as well as posting warnings on local postboards for those unaware. I for one will do everything in my power to spread the word. I am truely sorry for everyone who has been victimized by these creeps. Wendy

  • Linda

    I’ve had people keep calling me and I keep telling them to stop calling and they don’t stop. and one night two young ladies in there late 20’s early 30’s came to my house at 6:50 pm at night about saving money on electricity and i told them i have it all taken care of then they asked me what source i was with and i repeated that i got it all taken care of. My question is how do i get these people to STOP bothering me?

    • ryry

      You don’t they are allowed too harass you now since they passed the option to pick who you want to go through. And in turn they made this huge gap where these scams are allowed.

    • wendy

      Wow linda that is notcool of them to do to you, especially now a days with how sad our soceity has be come with dishonesty. If it were me I would call the police!!! They are now harassing you by coming to your home. Wendy

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