Rate caps that have been in place for 15 years will expire for four more electric companies on January first, including PECO.
The good news is that the hikes won't rise as much as a lot of customers may have expected. Still, they are going up.
But you do have some options.
Right now, if you're a PECO customer, there are two parts to your bill.
About one-third is what PECO charges you to deliver your electricity. This is where PECO makes its money and that will not change.
The remaining two-thirds is what you're charged for the actual energy you use. PECO does not make money on this portion. It buys energy and passes along the cost to you with no markup and the company will continue to do that.
However, that is the portion you should now shop around for. There are 17 companies now competing to sell you electricity and many of them are doing so at a big discount.
Their rates will go into effect starting January 1st.
"If you don't do anything, if you just make believe it's not happening, your electric bill is going to go up," said Lance Haver of the Philadelphia Office of Conusmer Affairs. "It's going to go up by five to seven percent. But if you shop, you can save money and that's what we're encouraging people to do."
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"We looked at PECO's rate and we reduced ours by 10 percent and we have a fixed rate," said Hal Poel of Spark Energy.
A fixed rate is important. Some companies are offering teaser rates that may then go up higher than what you are paying now.
Also, be sure to choose a company that does not charge an early cancellation fee. That way, you can switch at any time without paying a dime.
Meantime, even if you switch to another supplier, PECO will continue to deliver your energy, respond to your power emergencies, and bill you.
"Their bill will be recalculated based on the supplier's charges, but they will still be able to participate in the budget plan and they'll still receive that bill from PECO," said Cathy Engel of PECO.
Also, PECO will remain the provider of last resort so, if you pick a company that goes out of business, your service won't be interrupted. PECO will simply take over.