As winter approaches, energy costs for Pennsylvania residents will rise with utility companies adjusting their seasonal energy supply prices. However, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) urges consumers to prepare for this incoming surge and that they have options to save money to mitigate the impact of these prices on customer finances this coming winter. The PUC in their press release explains that the two major parts of a resident’s monthly electric and gas bills are: the delivery or distribution charge and the generation or supply charge. The delivery or distribution charge includes the cost for the operation and maintenance of local utility infrastructure that delivers energy to homes and businesses.
The generation or supply charge is determined either by a consumer’s contract with a competitive supplier or, for those residents who do not shop for a supplier, by the energy supplier’s “Price to Compare” (PTC) whose averages according to the PUC make up about 40 percent to 60 percent of utility bills. The Commission notes that Pennsylvania-regulated electric utilities are adjusting their “price to compare” on December 1st for residential non-shopping customers. They provide a list of these electric company changes along with a list of the Pennsylvania natural gas distribution companies who have adjusted their PTCs for non-shopping customers as well.
Residents who are struggling with energy costs are encouraged to reach out directly to public utilities in order to address issues and utilize any local community customer assistance programs. For instance, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low income families pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. These cash grants that can range from $300 to $1,000, are a one-time payment sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider to be credited on a bill.
For this program, residents must meet the income guidelines but don’t have to be on public assistance, can have an unpaid heating bill but do not need one, and can rent or own their home. Applications for the program for the 2022-2023 winter heating season opened on November 1st, 2022 and residents can apply for it along with other public assistance programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us or by phone at 1-866-550-4355.
Energy saving tips that the PUC advices for all residents include; paying attention to the thermostat as well as lowering temperatures while away from home; conducting furnace maintenance; insulating and sealing leaks around your home; installing or repairing ceiling fans to spin clockwise; and resetting the water heater thermostat among many others.