PA lawmakers hope to revive bill to ease impact when rate caps expire

Written by Scott Detrow, StateImpact Pennsylvania Reporter | Dec 7, 2009 9:55 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Days after declaring the effort all but dead, state House Democratic leaders say they'll make a final push to pass a bill cushioning the impact of expiring electric rate caps. PPL's rate caps come off on January 1st, which means central and northeastern Pennsylvania consumers might see their bills go up by 30 percent. Other companies' restrictions expire in 2011. A House bill to phase in those increases hasn't seen any action since April. But, Bob Caton, a spokesman for Speaker Keith McCall, says Democrats will try to pass it and send it to the Senate before the new year. He says an amendment will ditch the bill's 20 percent cap on increases. "There is no set percentage. It would just have to be broken up into three equal annual pieces," he says. "This way the people who are looking at their rates possibly going up would be able to plan for it a little better. They would be able to absorb the blow more easily and be able to plan for their economic future." If the bill became law, a 15 percent increase could be be divided into three five percent hikes. Customers would have to pay interest on the deferred payments, though, so some industry experts say the program might not be worth the effort. Electric Power Generation Association general counsel Terry Fitzpatrick equates the option to a loan customers would be taking out to pay their bills.

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