Thousands who thought they could save money on electricity got a jolt last month, when rates from secondary electricity suppliers doubled or even tripled.
Since we first told you about the prices last week, hundreds of you called and claimed the rate hikes were unfair.
Now Pennsylvania’s Attorney General agrees.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is looking to see if any laws were broken when these secondary energy suppliers sent out record high bills to their customers this month.
These customers have variable rates and thought they were saving a few bucks when they signed up with companies as alternatives to PPL.
One Hazleton man’s January electric bill doubled.
An Abington Township man’s January bill tripled.
And when Lon Singer of Williamsport opened his monthly electric bill from American Power and Gas, “the rate was atrocious.”
A rate that almost quadrupled.
“Normally, it’s around $300 dollars, somewhere in that range. It was $1,200,” Singer said.
Singer is a customer of one of more than 40 secondary electric suppliers in our state.
Many promised monthly savings to those who switched from PPL. But sustained cold weather increased electric use in the region forcing many suppliers to pay higher costs. Costs companies passed directly on to customers with variable electric rates.
In Pennsylvania, variable rates mean no cap on how much suppliers can charge.
“The company said they couldn’t do anything for me, it’s just what it was, it’s a variable rate. I said I didn’t realize you could charge something like that,” said Singer.
In a statement released on Wednesday, attorney general Kathleen Kane called the rate hikes, “alarming,” adding, “we are looking at these price increases and will be prepared to take action to protect affected consumers.”
Kane notes that Governor Corbett declared a state of emergency February 5, and that the practice of price gouging is illegal.
Lon Singer isn’t sure if homeowners like him are crime victims but he feels like he was robbed.
“It hurts. I wasn’t expecting something like that. I was expecting something a little bit higher, but not three and a half times.”
The Attorney General’s office is asking consumers to file complaints with its consumer affairs office and to send the office marketing materials, bills, contracts, terms and conditions, and sign up and welcome letters.
For more on how to get your material into the hands of investigators from the Attorney General’s office, click here.
You can also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline at 800-441-2555 for questions, help, and complaints.
On Friday, lawmakers announced a series of hearings on this matter beginning in March.
The attorney general's office said more than 1,500 people called the consumer complaint line.