Turzai, Saylor Introduce Electric Rate Stabilization Bill
9/16/2008
Measure would provide price predictability and tools to lower bills for electric customers 

In an effort to help Pennsylvania electric customers combat rising energy bills, Reps. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Stan Saylor (R-York) today introduced legislation, House Bill 2300, to stabilize electric rates in the Commonwealth following the expiration of electric rate caps during the next several years. 

“Deregulation is the right direction for Pennsylvania’s energy future, bringing much needed competition to our energy market,” Turzai said.  “However, we must ensure that the transition from a regulated to a deregulated market is a smooth one for the Commonwealth’s energy consumers.  House Republicans have held numerous hearings on how best to serve the needs of Pennsylvania’s energy consumers.  House Bill 2300 is a multi-prong approach that focuses on consumer choice, consumer education and marketplace competition.”   

“This is a comprehensive plan to combat potentially rising electricity prices in the years ahead,” Saylor said.  “First and foremost, this plan would empower customers by giving them more control over their energy futures.  Our plan would provide more control, predictability and security to customers who are feeling anxious and nervous about the prospect of rising electricity prices.  Instead of focusing on one or the other, our plan promotes traditional energy production and the use of new and emerging alternative energy sources.  We understand that Pennsylvania must use every tool at its disposal to battle rising energy prices.”  

House Bill 2300 is part of the House Republican’s Energy for PA plan.  House Republicans earlier this session introduced a key component of the electric rate stabilization package, House Bill 2236, sponsored by Saylor.  This legislation reduces the gross receipts tax on consumer electric bills by 50 percent over five years.   

Electric rate caps were established as part of a plan enacted in the 1990s by the General Assembly and then-Gov. Tom Ridge to transition Pennsylvania toward a deregulated electric market.  Some of those rate caps have expired in parts of Pennsylvania and the rest are set to expire during 2009 and 2010.  When rate caps were lifted in parts of Pennsylvania and in other states, customers faced fluctuating prices and price spikes. 

To help Pennsylvania customers transition from a regulated to a deregulated electric market, Turzai and Saylor’s bill would: 

  • Provide electric price predictability for customers by requiring utilities to enact three-year rate phase-in plans, allowing customers to – on a voluntary basis – ease into any higher prices that might result when rate caps are removed.
  • Require utility companies to provide customers with valuable information about energy-saving tips and technologies to lower their electric bills.
  • Provide electric price stability for customers by ensuring rates are changed only on a quarterly basis.
  • Empower customers to plan ahead by allowing them to voluntarily pay in advance for any expected rate increases and receive 6 percent interest on any prepaid amounts.
  • Ensure programs are in place to assist low-income customers once rate caps expire.
  • Implement guidelines affecting the way utility companies purchase electricity from generators, providing safeguards against inflated electric prices for customers while promoting the use of traditional and alternative energy sources. 

In addition, the lawmakers’ bill would permit small independent generators to establish so-called “microgrids,” where companies that produce on-site power could sell excess power to other customers.  Currently, these companies are prohibited from selling their power to others.  Under the lawmakers’ proposal, microgrids could provide power to four customers at a time, which would reduce demand on the existing power grid and generating plants, reduce the demand for power and drive down electric prices. 

The bill was introduced in the House today and includes more than 30 co-sponsors.  

Rep. Mike Turzai
28th District
Rep. Stanley Saylor
94th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Tricia Graham
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 260-6296
www.pahousegop.com