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PUC Stalls Met-Ed/Penelec Customer Education Plan

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission unexpectedly voted to delay implementation of the electricity shopping Customer Education Program for Metropolitan Edison Company and Pennsylvania Electric Company. The Commission was addressing an audit of the plans, which cost about $900,000 each, when it suspended implementation pending further comment from participants.  The Commission appears to be concerned that, due to lack of electric generation supplier participation in those territories, customer education about competitive alternatives may be premature.

The March 31 Commission vote was prompted by Commissioner Cawley’s motion, which noted that there are only two or three electric generation suppliers serving each of the Met-Ed and Penelec service territories, and questioned whether it is appropriate to “roll-out” retail choice education until the market further matures.  The Education Programs at issue were agreed-to as part of the settlement of the Companies’ latest default service cases. The settlement requires Met-Ed and Penelec to notify residential and small commercial customers of participating EGS offers by mail.

The Commission has asked stakeholders to address a number of questions, including:

(1) whether the Customer Education Program should be delayed until a certain number of EGSs have entered the market,  and, if so, what the threshold number should be;

(2) whether the Education Program should move forward for either residential or small commercial customers separately or for both at the same time; and

(3) whether there are EGSs that intend to enter these service territories in the near future and whether a delayed and more concentrated campaign might be more effective at a later date.

The Commission suspended the implementation of the Education Program until it has received these answers and has an opportunity to review them.

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