PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What do you say we jump right to the bottom line?

On June 1, 70 percent of West Penn Power customers and 47 percent of Duquesne Light customers are going to see their electric bills go up.

Duquesne Light’s Brian Knavish says for the average Duquesne Light residential customer, “It’s about an 11 percent increase. The average customer will see about $9 increase on their bill.”

When you add in the commercial customers, which could see their monthly bills climb a couple hundred dollars, overall Duquesne Light customers will pay 23.8 percent more.

West Penn Power says its customers’ bill will climb 51.5 percent.

These increases only affect customers who have not shopped around and selected an alternative electric supplier.

West Penn and Duquesne Light are electrical distributors and have to buy electricity from a supplier to pass along to customers who haven’t selected an independent supplier.

Over the polar vortex, electric prices went nuts; and June 1 is when the Public Utility Commission allows the companies to adjust their rates to get back their money.

“It’s a dollar for dollar pass through of the cost, and they have already paid for it,” Jennifer Kocher, with the PUC says. “So, the customers, unfortunately, are now also paying for it because they used the electricity.”

So what can you do? Shop! PaPowerSwitch.com is the website set up by the PUC for you to check on your alternatives and compare prices.

On the site, you will find electric suppliers with prices higher than the rates you will soon be paying and some lower.

But use caution. Variable rates may look good at first, but get jacked up later, and read the fine print about how long of a contract you are entering.

And it’s important to note, it takes from five to 40 days to execute an electric provider change.

For comparison purposes these are the rates the PUC has authorized for June 1:

  • West Penn Power – 7.51 a kilowatt hour (it was 4.96)
  • Duquesne Light – 8.16 a kilowatt hour (it was 6.59)

West Penn says its new rate will probably slide backwards come September.

Duquesne Light says the new rate will be in force for a year.

The PUC’s Kocher can’t emphasize enough the importance of shopping around.

”If you are saving a half a cent to a penny that is something over the course of a year that can save a hundred dollars or more,” she said.

By the way, lest you think you are being penalized for not choosing an electric provider before now, this price move upwards by Duquesne Light and West Penn Power will bring their rates more in line with what many of the independent providers are already charging the rest of their customers.

While the utilities and PUC might like you to shop around, Josey Moore from Pittsburgh’s West End says she’ll stick with Duquesne Light.

“I’ll pay it ‘cause I’m not comfortable with the other companies, at least I know Duquesne Light,” she said.

And asked if she would go energy shopping to avoid the higher rates Lizette Jackson-Hicks of East Liberty said, “If it don’t have anything to do with shopping for clothes or shoes, no.”

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