A state House committee passed legislation Wednesday to increase the transparency of contracts between electricity suppliers and their customers.
The measure was introduced after last winter's unexpected spikes in electric bills for variable rate consumers.
House Bill 2104, approved by the House Consumer Affairs Committee, would limit electric rate increases for customers with variable rates to no more than 30 percent per billing cycle.
Cancellation fees on variable rate would be banned, and suppliers would be prohibited from switching customers on an expired fixed-rate plan to a variable-rate plan.
"It currently takes up to one or two billing cycles for a customer to change electric suppliers. This is much too long and results in customers being stuck with high rates for a period of time after they request to be switched to another supplier," Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery), the bill's sponsor, said in a statement.
Godshall said his measure also requires all supplier contracts to contain certain language that clearly explains the contract terms.
Suppliers must also provide customers with a copy of their contract.
Additionally, the bill gives the Public Utility Commission specific authority to investigate customer complaints about the rates charged by suppliers.
The bill now goes before the full House.