Sparks fly in energy debate

    Pennsylvania House Democratic leaders aren’t happy with amendments to a bill aimed at controlling what could be spikes in electric bills when rate caps expire.

    Pennsylvania House Democratic leaders aren’t happy with amendments to a bill aimed at controlling what could be spikes in electric bills when rate caps expire.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090422sdratecaps.mp3]

    House Speaker Keith McCall and Democratic Majority Leader Todd Eachus have both thrown their weight behind a measure that would limit utility bill increases to 15 percent a year once rate caps begin expiring in 2010.

    But the House Consumer Affairs Committee has amended the measure, and raised the limit to twenty percent.

    House Democratic spokesman Brett Marcy says party leaders plan on fighting to restore the fifteen percent cap when the bill reaches the full floor.

    Marcy: That’s an issue that we feel strongly about. We believe that that language is not consumer-friendly. And we’re going to work to improve his bill and enhance it from where it’s at.

    Experts say Pennsylvanians’ electric bills could rise by thirty percent or more once rate caps expire. The amended bill would also let utilities collect interest on the deferred payments.

    Marcy says Democratic leaders take issue with that change, too, and will try to remove the language. Utilities say without the interest, they’d take a financial hit from the measure.

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