By Andrew Maykuth

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Peco Energy Co.’s electrical prices for commercial customers will increase between 9.4 percent and 12.6 percent on July 1, the Philadelphia utility announced Tuesday.

Peco’s commodity charge, which accounts for about two-thirds of a typical customer’s bill, will increase sharply to reflect the higher price of procuring power during the summer months, said Cathy Engel Menendez, the utility’s spokeswoman.

The increase won’t affect the 37 percent of Peco’s 60,359 small commercial customers who have switched electrical suppliers in Pennsylvania’s deregulated energy markets. Nor will the increase affect most larger commercial and industrial customers, the vast majority of which switched suppliers after Peco’s market rates went into effect this year.

Shop owners, office managers and manufacturers that had been sitting on the fence about shopping for electrical suppliers might take a second look at alternatives in the face of the impending increase.

For small commercial customers, Peco’s price to compare will increase from 9.43 cents per kilowatt hour to 10.32 cents on July 1, a 9.4 percent increase.

For medium commercial customers, whose demand is between 100 kilowatts and 500 kilowatts, the rate will increase from 9.30 cents per kWh to 10.47 cents, a 12.6 percent.

Peco had already announced that its charges will be increasing by 4.3 percent on July 1 for residential customers. Peco’s residential price-to-compare will increase from 9.99 cents to 10.42 cents. For consumption above 500 kilowatt hours, the price increases to 11.69 cents per kWh.

Peco says that the commodity prices are based on procurement contracts with suppliers, and that the utility passes the cost along to customers without markup.

The wholesale cost of power has always fluctuated seasonally, but it is only this year that Peco’s charges are adjusted quarterly to reflect the market conditions. Electricity tends to be more expensive in the summer, when demand is higher.

The adjustments don’t affect Peco’s distribution charge, which is assessed on each customer regardless of who supplies the electrical power. The distribution charge reflects Peco’s cost for maintaining the wires and customer service system, and is regulated by the Public Utility Commission.

While most alternative suppliers quote their residential rates in public through the PUC, only a few post their commercial rates, which are often quoted individually and depend upon a customer’s usage patterns.

The Energy Cooperative Association of Philadelphia is one supplier that does post its small-commercial rates, which may now be more attractive in light of Peco’s impending increase.

The Energy Coop charges 9.42 cents per kilowatt hour for small commercial customers, virtually identical to Peco’s current rate. But when Peco’s rate goes up to 10.32 cents in July, the nonprofit’s price will be 8.7 percent less than the utility’s. The cooperative also charges commercial customers a $30 membership fee.

Jossi Fritz-Mauer, co-director of the cooperative, said customers need to initiate the switch now in order to take advantage of the savings this summer.

“Businesses and residents won’t see those huge bills for their summer usage until it’s too late,” said Fritz-Mauer.

“If they wait for big bills to shock them into switching, they’ll miss out on a lot of savings,” he said.

Note:  Hutchinson Business Solutions has been providing commercial deregulation savings solutions to their clients for over 10 years. There are great opportunity for savings.

Call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com to learn more about your opportunity to save.