Monday, December 14, 2009
PUC Expands the Role of the Office of Competitive Market Oversight to Include Electric Retail Choice Issues
HARRISBURG – As part of a continued effort to facilitate a smooth transition to a competitive market as many Pennsylvanians face the expiration of generation rate caps, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today announced it will be expanding the Office of Competitive Market Oversight (OCMO) to serve as the Commission’s electric retail choice ombudsman. According to the Secretarial Letter issued to electric generation suppliers (EGSs) and electric distribution companies, OCMO is responsible for responding to questions from EGSs, monitoring competitive market complaints and facilitating informal dispute resolution between the default service provider (DSP) and EGSs. In performing these functions, OCMO will assume only advisory and informal mediation roles. The first meeting of the expanded OCMO is planned as a conference call for Dec. 18, 2009, at 9 a.m. Further details are contained in the Secretarial Letter. In areas where competitive electricity supplies are being offered, Pennsylvania consumers may be able to secure supply rates below the prices offered by their utility. Generation supply costs comprise the majority of the average electric bill. Consumers are encouraged to proactively engage competitive suppliers – whose price is unregulated by the PUC – to obtain pricing information for the generation portion of their bill. The PUC has engaged consumer advocates and industry experts in efforts to mitigate any price increases in future electric generation prices. The PUC has been working to educate consumers; develop strategies to remove barriers for suppliers providing competitive electric service; approve phase-in or pre-payment plans and direct all utilities to file such programs if electric rates increase by more than 25 percent; update low-income programs that provide customer assistance; and implement default service pricing that reflects the least cost to consumers over the long term. The PUC also is continuing to implement reasonable, cost-effective programs that consumers and companies can implement to conserve energy or use it more efficiently. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner. For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website atwww.puc.state.pa.us.