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Now’s good time to hunt for better electrical rates

By: Evamarie Socha |

Forget those Christmas bargains — what Valley residents need to shop for is an energy plan that suits their needs without breaking the bank, like those who were stunned by shockingly high electric bills at the height of last winter’s polar vortex.

Now is a good time to shop for a plan, said Teri MacBride, PPL’s regional affairs director, “before the cold of winter and heating bills hit.” Comparing what electricity suppliers offer helps “to use your energy dollars wisely.”

Consumers choose between two plans, fixed rate and variable rate. People hit by those incredibly high bills last year mostly were on a variable rate plan, she said.

Fixed rate is as it sounds: one price per kilowatt hour for a set amount of time. But a variable rate means the price per kilowatt hour can change at any time, based on things such as the weather and market conditions.

When comparing plans, it’s important to pay attention if the given price is a fixed or variable rate, MacBride said. Energy suppliers must give that information to customers, but it can be missed.

Part of deciding which rate to go with is deciding how much risk you can take, MacBride said. What starts as a low rate can escalate, as seen last winter.

Shopping for the best rate has no bearing on service restoration should the power go out, MacBride said, noting to think of PPL as a package delivery service. “It doesn’t matter who send the package, we’re going to deliver it,” she said. “The same goes for electricity plans.” If the power goes out, PPL will be the one to bring it back up.

Electricity prices also are down right now, she said, because of the other drops in energy prices. It costs less to generate the power, therefore that savings can be passed on to the consumer.

“You can shop right now and get the lower rate or better rate, quickly,” MacBride said. “That’s why we encourage people to shop around.”

To see power suppliers and their rates, visit www.PAPowerSwitch.com and click on “shop for energy suppliers.”

MacBride also encourages people to use their energy wisely. Shut off lights, electronics and other powered accessories when not in use. Make sure your attic is well insulated. Turning down your thermostat by one degree saves 2 percent on your heating bill.

For these and more advice, visit www.pplelectric.com/e-power.