by Cassie Miller, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
January 31, 2023
The state entity charged with oversight of utility companies across the commonwealth announced this week that it would initiate an investigation of PPL Electric Utilities (PPL) over “unusually high bills recently received by customers.”
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) announced Tuesday that it referred PPL to its Independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, which enforces state public utility codes and PUC regulations, for investigation after receiving complaints from PPL customers.
The investigation will examine “the circumstances surrounding unusually high bills recently received by customers served by PPL Electric Utilities (PPL), along with the accuracy and integrity of PPL’s billing practices,” the PUC said in a statement.
PPL serves approximately 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania, according to its website.
The Capital-Star reached out to a PUC spokesperson who said they could not provide a timeframe for when the allegedly high bills were being received, saying only that it happened “recently.”
Shortly after the investigation was announced, PPL customers received an email from PPL Electric Utilities President Steph Raymond.
The emailed statement did not directly address the PUC investigation but does address billing and responsiveness issues.
“Today, I’m reaching out to address these issues, including estimated bills, to share steps we’re taking to support our customers, and to explain what it means for you. I also want to take this opportunity to address higher prices for energy supply, which have been the primary driver of higher bills. While we don’t control these energy supply costs, we are committed to doing what we can to help you in this challenging time,” the statement reads.
“While estimated billing and higher prices are unrelated, together they have fueled a sharp increase in customer calls, resulting in long wait times for many who have tried to contact us. If you received an estimated bill or have had difficulty reaching our call center, I apologize. Simply put, you deserve better, and we are committed to regaining your trust,” it concluded.
Raymond noted that the company plans to resolve the billing and response issues by resolving the “technical issue that resulted in a significant number of bills that were based on estimated electricity usage” and restoring customers’ access to detailed usage information online.
To further address the matter, PPL said that it would not shut off power to residential and small-business customers for non-payment through March 31 and that it would waive all late fees in January and February. “Any fees already charged in January will be credited to customer accounts,” the email reads. PPL also said that it would be adding more customer support agents to answer “calls and reduce wait times.”
While the commission encouraged customers to contact PPL with concerns about the size and accuracy of their bills, it noted that customers who do not believe that PPL addressed their concerns adequately should contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS) at 1-800-692-7380.
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