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Many in Pennsylvania still must learn about electricity competition

Pennsylvania first implemented electricity deregulation in 1997, one of the earliest states in the country to make a switch to competitive markets.

Yet, when consumer columnist David Bruce first started writing his new column for the Erie Times-News the very first call he received was a question about electricity providers.

"I'm getting calls, asking if I want to switch my provider," Marlene Pope told Bruce. "I don't know what they're doing. I'm just an ordinary person who doesn't want to think about it. I just want the cheapest rate."

Bruce explained that much of the confusion for Pennsylvanians comes from the fact that despite how long the state has had competitive markets it rarely made sense to switch electricity providers until recently.

Because the state put caps on the electricity rates offered by utilities, few electricity suppliers could compete. Now that those caps are gone, many residents can save dramatically on their electricity bills by making that jump.

People have begun to realize as well. As of the beginning of February, PAPowerSwitch.com reports that more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have switched electricity providers, many more than just one year ago.