PECO talks rate increases at Holmesburg Civic

The winter months are coming, and with it will come rate increases from PECO.

As an answer to the increase, PECO is promoting its energy saving tips and assistance programs to help keep costs low. Jen Tepel of PECO’s Energy Education Team was at last night’s Holmesburg Civic Association meeting to discuss the increase and ways to combat high energy bills.

Though Tepel said she couldn’t be sure how often rates will increase now that the cap has been lifted, she expressed confidence in the fact that since the Public Utility Commission just approved the first increase in 20 years, the rates won’t go up to frequently.

However, come January when the rate cap is lifted and the delivery rate goes up, PECO customers can expect to pay an extra $8 on every monthly bill. Tepel said those additional funds will help PECO “improve and update infrastructure” issues like the above-ground wires that sustain weather damage.

PECO’s money-saving tips

-install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators

-turn off & unplug electronics when not n use

-use the air-dry setting on the dishwasher

-seal cracks around windows and doors

In an effort to help Holmesburg residents decrease their energy usage and subsequently lower their bills, Tepel  gave “a tip for every room in your house” on how to save energy and money, including using compact fluorescent light, or CFL, bulbs, which she said use a quarter of the energy of regular bulbs and last five to 10 times longer.

People have “seen a dramatic decrease in their bill,” Tepel said of PECO customers who’ve replaced their regular bulbs with the CFL kind.

So why the rate increase? The rate cap was lifted to allow for competition in the energy market. Once the cap lifts in January, other energy providers can move in and offer their own rates, much like Verizon has provided competition to Comcast in the last few years.

But despite the competition for service, PECO will still own the power lines, meaning even customers who pay energy bills to another provider will still have to pay PECO for the delivery. They’ll also be the ones to send someone out in the event of a power outage or emergency.

Whichever provider you end up with, Tepel warned, research the company and its rates before unknowingly entering into a contract that will have you paying higher rates after a specified time period. Tepel’s advice: “Be a wise consumer.”

Also at last night’s meeting… Upper Holmesburg will get a new indoor soccer/basketball stadium at Torresdale Avenue and Tolbut Street, which will be open to all players. The Upper Holmesburg Civic Association will have more details on the gym at its meeting next Thursday…Sandy Stewart, announced her Republican candidacy for the 6th Council District in the 2011 election. Stewart is a Tacony resident who served as the Quality of Life Committee Leader for the Tacony Civic Association until recently…Tacony/Holmesburg Town Watch needs members, especially after a recent rash of eight thefts between Sheffield Street and Pennypack Creek…Holmesburg Rec Center will now offer Zumba classes Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. for $5 per class, and will again host CLIP’s wreath-making class Dec. 4.

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