HUGHESTOWN, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A state lawmaker from northeastern Pennsylvania is calling for state hearings into ongoing PPL billing concerns from customers.
Customers continue to reach out to the I-Team claiming their bills keep skyrocketing. State Representative James Haddock says customers deserve to know what happened and what’s being done to prevent it from happening again.
PPL officials said a technical glitch several weeks ago was to blame for the billing problems.
In a written statement to Eyewitness News, PPL Electric Utilities spokesperson Alana Roberts provided the following response:
We recognize that there has been a lot of confusion around the complex topic of electricity bills – something that has been compounded by the temporary issue in December when our billing system was prevented from accessing our meter data and many customers received estimated bills. However, usage estimates are not the primary driver of higher bills. Higher electricity supply prices have been the key driver of higher bills.
Geopolitical issues, supply constraints, inflation and other market forces have caused the price of electricity supply to rise sharply over the past two years. PPL Electric Utilities doesn’t own power plants, generate electricity, or control the cost of electricity supply. If you don’t shop, we’re required to shop for power on your behalf and 60% of our customers rely on us to do that. We pass along the cost — without markup or profit for PPL.
PPL Electric Utilities’ Price to Compare increased nearly 18% on December 1 and has nearly doubled over the past two years as our costs to buy power from suppliers has increased. Customers saw the December 1 increase reflected in their recent bills.
At the same time, many shopping customers are paying more than they need to for electricity supply, and in many cases, significantly more. As of the end of November, more than 100,000 PPL Electric Utilities customers were paying anywhere from 25% to 100% more than our default rate. This has exacerbated high bill concerns.
For some customers, there may be a reason to pay more, such as a desire to support renewable energy. For all others, if you’re shopping for power and paying more than PPL Electric’s default rate of 14.6 cents – you’re paying too much. And if you’re not shopping, you’re missing out on potential savings, with some suppliers offering fixed-price contracts of 10 cents or less. We encourage all customers to make sure they are getting the best deal for electricity supply by comparing prices offered by suppliers at papowerswitch.com.
As it relates to customer support, the combination of higher prices and a large number of estimated bills drove a sharp increase in customer calls, overwhelming PPL’s call centers and frustrating many who have tried to reach a PPL representative. We apologize. Our customers deserve better support, and we’re committed to regaining that trust. We’ve doubled the number of agents to help answer customer calls and respond to those who requested a callback through our interactive voice response system. We’ve continued to make self-service options available at www.pplelectric.com or by calling 1-800-DIAL-PPL. In addition, we’ve added a page on our website – www.pplelectric.com/billquestions — to share updates on actions we’re taking to support our customers and steps customers can take to save.
Additional actions we are taking to support our customers at this time.
- We resolved the data transfer issue that resulted in an unusually large number of customer bills based on estimated electricity usage.
- We restored the ability to view actual electricity usage on our website.
- We are waiving all late fees for January and February. Any fees that may have been charged in January will be credited to customer accounts.
- We won’t shut off power for non-payment through March 31.
- Consistent with our policy, we do not report information related to active customer accounts to credit agencies.
- We have added more agents at the call center to address call wait times.
- We continue to encourage our customers to shop for the cheapest electricity price plan that works for them by visiting PaPowerSwitch.com.
- We continue to offer payment plans and assistance for customers who are struggling to pay their bill. This includes convenient self-service payment plan options available online at www.pplelectric.com or by calling 1-800-DIAL-PPL.
- We continue to take steps, as we have over the past decade, to improve operating efficiency and to control our costs to deliver power while strengthening reliability for our customers. These steps, which include using smart grid technology and automation on our networks and using data to drive better decisions, have allowed us to keep operation and maintenance costs essentially flat over the past decade while delivering reliability that’s among the best in the nation.
Tune in to Eyewitness News tonight at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. for more on this story.