Phillips-Hill sponsors bill to clean up PA’s retail energy industry, proposes improvements to switching suppliers

HARRISBURG – Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) introduced legislation that would improve access for energy customers to switch electricity and natural gas suppliers, as well as require energy suppliers to complete certified training courses on how to market plans to consumers.

“This legislation will make energy shopping easier for consumers and will hold energy suppliers accountable for marketing practices,” Phillips-Hill said. “This bill will help continue to improve the energy choice marketplace, which has been around for a quarter of a century, by enhancing the entire process for customers researching their options.”

Under Phillips-Hill’s Senate Bill 277, customers would be allowed to provide a government-issued ID or their account number to switch energy or gas providers. Currently the law only accepts a consumer’s electric or gas account number to authorize the switch.

The proposal would also require retail electric and natural gas suppliers – and their representatives selling their products – to be certified through an educational course in sales and consumer protection of electric and natural gas products to consumers. Individuals will need to pass a required online training and education exam, and be certified by the Public Utility Commission, before selling to consumers.

“We have seen horror stories of unscrupulous actors in this Commonwealth using deceptive practices that have caused great harm and stress to customers. This legislation will clean up Pennsylvania’s retail energy markets to provide greater transparency and accountability,” she said.

If passed, Pennsylvania would join Maryland and the District of Columbia in enacting this measure to provide enhanced accountability to retail energy markets. The cost to implement and administer the exam would be paid by suppliers through their licensing fee. The measure would require Pennsylvania’s default utilities to separately breakout their costs associated with serving as a supplier and distributor.

“Senate Bill 277 will hold these suppliers to a higher standard to ensure consumers are not being taken advantage of and truly understand their local energy choices,” she added.

The legislation was recently referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.

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