Why don’t more people shop for electricity in Pennsylvania? That’s the topic of a recent state wide poll released in December by Opinion Research. The results shows three fourths or 78 percent of Pennsylvania residents would consider switching to a competitive electricity provider if they could save about 10 percent on the electricity generation portion of their utility bill.
The 2011 telephone survey, conducted by the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, polled 801 Pennsylvania adults. The survey was commissioned by Constellation Energy. Pollsters reported 88 percent of Pennsylvanians were aware that they could shop for a different electricity provider, but only 45 percent have looked into actually changing.
Of those Pennsylvanians who looked into changing their supplier, almost half had visited a consumer-oriented shopping site like ElectricChoice.com. And nearly nine in ten visitors to the sites thought it was easy to use and understand. A survey of Alphabuyer’s Pennsylvania customers revealed very similar results about residents’ awareness and view of the shopping process.
The Franklin & Marshall poll reinforces the proactive nature of the Pennsylvania PUC to promote electric choice in the state, but many electricity consumers will not find a website useful. Pennsylvania is an aging state, more than 15 percent of citizens are senior citizens and unlikely to surf the web for the best electric rates. This large population requires a different sort of education campaign. Toll free phone numbers are great, but it is difficult to compare rates over the phone and the pamphlets available from the PUC are not specific to the region where one lives. It appears the best way to educate elderly residents is through resource intensive outreach, such as, face to face interaction at community events or presentations at senior centers.
The bottom line is Pennsylvanians clearly are motivated to save money – they just have to be convinced that the process is simple, and that there are significant savings to be obtained.