Utility Companies seek to tweak energy legislation

    By: Scott Detrow

    Democratic House leaders characterize as a top priority a measure that would phase in likely electricity rate cap increases in Pennsylvania over a three-year period. But utility companies have a big problem with some of the bill’s language.

    By: Scott Detrow
    scott_detrow@pubradionews.net

    Democratic House leaders characterize as a top priority a measure that would phase in likely electricity rate cap increases in Pennsylvania over a three-year period. But utility companies have a big problem with some of the bill’s language.

    Transcript:
    Electricity rate caps in Pennsylvania begin expiring next year, which means some consumers could see their bills shoot up by as much as 40 percent.

    House Bill 20 would limit the increase to an annual maximum of fifteen percent over a three year period. It’s currently before the Consumer Affairs committee, and will likely see a full House vote at some point this spring.

    George Lewis is a spokesman for electric company PPL. He says the corporation and other utilities agree with the spirit of the measure, but want the option of charging interest on those deferred rate hikes.

    Lewis: “Allowing customers to defer payments is, in effect, a loan that the utility company is making to its customers. We still will have to borrow money in order to pay the electricity suppliers that we have under the contracts we’ve already signed.”

    A spokesman for House Majority Leader Todd Eachus says House leaders are willing to negotiate details, but insists easing the financial burden on consumers, and not utilities, is the top priority.

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    [audio: reports20090330rates.mp3]

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