PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — For months, we’ve heard from PPL customers who are dealing with billing issues, such as overcharging or not receiving bills at all. A new measure introduced by York County Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill in the Pennsylvania Senate aimed at electricity and natural gas suppliers could provide some relief.
The goal of the bill is to make it easier for people to understand how they are being charged, as well as increasing the oversight of energy suppliers. For frustrated customers, that could be a big help.
Lancaster County resident Dawn Flynn has been dealing with PPL billing issues for over a year. In early 2022, she got the Public Utility Commission involved and got on a payment plan with them. Then in summer, PPL said she missed a payment and kicked her off that payment plan.
After months of back and forth, she got back on a payment plan with PPL.
“It took a while for me to even remotely get a manager or supervisor involved this past summer,” Flynn remembered.
Things were going fine until spring rolled around.
“[The website] kept saying that I owed zero due for March 1. And I took screenshots I took pictures of it just as proof,” Flynn said.
She decided to wait for her balance to update.
“Like a week later I get a bill telling you that I’m kicked off everything and I owe this outrageous amount again,” she said.
Flynn was able to get her problem fixed with no penalties, but she said it is a hassle.
“You have anxiety about it, you’re worried that they’re going to try to turn your power off,” she said.
Senator Phillips-Hill understands that stress, and that is part of the reason behind her new bill.
“We have default providers that are in question here. This is exactly what this legislation is targeting,” she said.
Under the bill, companies would have to separate their costs related to their role as a supplier and their role as a distributor, so that people can see that break down. The bill would also require energy suppliers to be certified by taking a course in sales and consumer protection. Anyone who is in a role where they are selling to customers will also need to pass an exam and be certified by the Public Utility Commission.
“When you see those prices changing, you being a rational actor in the marketplace should be able to quickly, efficiently and transparently change your provider, get that better rate, reduce your costs,” said Phillips-Hill.
According to Phillips-Hill, Maryland and D.C. both have similar measures in place. She wants Pennsylvania to take the same steps to protect consumers.
Flynn thinks the bill would help, but with or without it, she just wants utility companies to start doing a better job for their customers.
“We as consumers, rely on their customer service people and their websites to be accurate,” she said. “And then you’re gonna penalize us and threaten to turn power off or do this and add late fees and all this other stuff when you’re not giving us the right information.”
The bill is currently in committee, but Phillips-Hill said if people are running into issues with their utility company, they should reach out to their state legislator.