Glossary of Terms

Advanced Metering Device(s) - For recording or communicating actual electric use during minutes, hours, days or weeks; needed for time-of-day, on-peak/off-peak or other billing rates.

Affiliate - A company that is controlled by another or has the same owner as another company.

Aggregator - An entity, licensed by the Commission, that purchases electric energy and takes title to electric energy as an intermediary for a large number of consumers and to bargain on their behalf for electricity and related services. The group "aggregates" or combines customers into one large customer for purposes of negotiation. It purchases the electricity as a single customer for the group.

Base Load - The minimum energy level a company must provide to its customers on a constant basis.

Basic Services - Services necessary for the physical delivery of electricity service, including generation, transmission and distribution. Transition charges, although temporary in scope, are basic service charges (see the definition of transition charges).

Chapter 56 - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's regulation s that establish rules for payment of utility bills, requests for service, payment of deposits, billing, termination of service and complaint handling. These regulations are to protect residential customers of regulated electric, gas, water, steam heat and sewer companies in Pennsylvania.

Commission - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the state regulatory agency that provides oversight, policy guidance and direction to public utilities and suppliers.

Competitive Transition Charge (CTC) - A charge applied to the bill of every customer accessing the transmission or distribution network. This charge is designed to recover an electric utility's transition or stranded costs as determined by the Commission.

Consumer Contract - The written disclosure statement of the terms of service between a customer and an Electric Generation Supplier (EGS). The definition of consumer contract appears in 73 P.S. S. 2203.

Customer Assistance Programs (CAPS) - An alternative collection method that provides bill payment assistance to low-income payment-troubled utility customers.

Customer Charge - Part of the monthly basic distribution charge to partially cover costs for billing, meter reading, equipment, service line maintenance and equipment. This charge is the same no matter how much electricity you use.

Daily Peak - The greatest amount of electricity used during a certain period in a day, such as one hour, half-hour or quarter-hour.

Demand - The amount of electricity customers use at any given moment or averaged over any certain period of time. It is a measure of the rate at which customers are using electricity.

Deregulation - Removal or relaxation of regulations or controls governing a business or service operation such as utilities.

Distribution - The local wires, transformers, substations and other equipment used to deliver electricity to consumers from the high-voltage transmission lines.

Distribution Charges - Basic service charges for delivering electricity over a distribution system to the home or business from the transmission system. (These charges include basic service under S.56.15(4)relating to Billing Information and universal service.)

Distribution Line - The local part of an electric system that delivers electricity to most customers.

Distributive Power - A packaged power unit located at the point of demand. While the technology is still evolving, examples include fuel cells, photovoltaic applications and in some cases wind power.

EDC (Electric Distribution Company) - The public utility providing facilities for the transmission and distribution of electricity to retail customers. Exceptions include building or facility owners or operators that manage their internal distribution system and supply electric power and electric services to occupants of the building or facility.

Energy Conservation - To reduce or manage energy consumption in a cost-effective and energy efficient manner.

Electric Generation Supplier (EGS or supplier) - A person or corporation, generator, broker, marketer, aggregator or any other entity licensed by the PUC that sells electricity to customers, using the transmission or distribution facilities of an electric distribution company (EDC).

Electricity Providers - The term refers collectively to the Electric Distribution Company (EDC), Electric Generation Supplier (EGS), electricity supplier, marketer, aggregator and/or broker, as well as any third party acting on behalf of these entities.

Fixed Price - A price which remains the same, usually for a set time period.

Flat Rate - A fixed charge for goods and services that does not vary with changes in the amount used, volume consumed, or units purchased.

Formal Complaint - A written dispute or disagreement about a utility problem filed by a consumer with the Public Utility Commission. A formal complaint is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who holds hearings to develop a record. After the hearings, the judge issues a decision. (See informal complaint.)

Generation - The production of electricity by using non-renewable energy (coal, nuclear, natural gas) or renewable energy (solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass) as the fuel source.

Generation Charges - Basic service charges for generation supply to retail customers. This excludes charges for transmission or other charges related to electric service.

Green power - See renewable energy.

Grid - A network for the transmission of electricity throughout the state, region or nation. The term is also used to refer to the layout of an electric distribution system.

Hourly Metering or Time of Use Metering - Tracking or recording a customer's consumption during specific periods of time that can be tied to the price of energy.

Informal Complaint - A dispute or disagreement about a utility problem filed by a consumer with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS). A BCS investigator reviews the informal complaint and provides the customer with a response to their dispute. Most responses are in the form of a decision that the customer or company can appeal. If an informal complaint is appealed, it becomes a formal complaint. (See Formal Complaint.)

Intangible Transition Charge - Charges to utility customers to pay for special bonds that are used to refinance utility debt, thereby lowering overall costs for the utility and its customers.

Investor Owned Utility - A utility company owned and operated by private investors.

Kilowatt (kW) - (1) A measure of demand for power during a preset time--minutes, hours, days, months; (2) 1,000 watts. A 100-watt light bulb used for 10 hours is equivalent to a kilowatt.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh) - The basic unit of electric energy for which most customers are charged in cents per kilowatt-hour. A Kilowatt-hour is the equivalent of using ten 100-watt light bulbs for one hour.

Load - The amount of electric power required to meet customers' use in a given time period.

Load Profile - Measurements of a customer's electricity usage over a period of time which shows how much and when a customer uses electricity. Load profiles can be used by suppliers and transmission system operators to forecast electricity supply requirements and to determine the cost of serving a customer.

Load Management - Shifting use of electricity from periods of high demand to periods of lower demand.

Marketer - A company, licensed by the Commission, that buys and resells electricity, but typically does not own generating facilities.

Non Basic Services - Not required for the physical delivery of electric service.

Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) - A state agency that represents the interests of Pennsylvania residential utility customers before the Public Utility Commission in rate and service cases and before other state and federal regulatory agencies and courts.

Office of Small Business Advocate (OSBA) - A state government office that represents the interests of small business consumers by participating in PUC rate cases and other state and federal regulatory cases.

Off-Peak/On-Peak - Blocks of time when energy demand and price is low (off-peak) or high (on-peak).

Price Cap - A level above which regulated prices may not rise.

Price to Compare - (Formerly known as Shopping Credit) Price per kilowatt-hour a consumer uses to compare prices and potential savings among generation suppliers.

Public Input Hearings - Meetings where consumers provide input to the PUC on a particular case. The PUC hearings are often held in the utility service area. Sometimes consumers can point out problems with the quality of the utility's service, management or policies that could affect the outcome of a case.

Public Utility Code - The law which sets the powers and duties of the PA Public Utility Commission. It also sets many of the guidelines the PUC uses for utilities' rates and service standards.

Real-time Pricing - Rates that reflect the actual moment by moment cost of providing electricity.

Regulation - A rule or law established by the federal or state government that sets procedures that a utility must follow.

Reliability - The providing of adequate and dependable generation, transmission and distribution service.

Renewable Energy - Resources used to generate electricity that are replaced naturally, or by mankind's contribution (municipal solid waste incineration and landfill methane). Renewable energy may include fuels and technologies such as solar photovoltaic energy, solar thermal energy, wind power, low head hydropower, geothermal energy, landfill and mine based methane gas, energy from waste and sustainable biomass energy.

Restructuring - The reorganization of traditional monopoly electric service to allow operations and charges to be separated or "unbundled" into generation, transmission, distribution and other services. This permits customers to buy generation services from competing suppliers.

Rural Electric Cooperative - Customer-owned electric utility that distributes electricity to members and that receives lower-cost financing through the federal government.

Spot Market - This is a term used in the wholesale purchase of electricity by suppliers within the regional transmission organization.

Stranded Costs - See Competitive Transition Charge (CTC)

Supplier of Last Resort - The company providing generation services to those who do not choose another supplier, are unable to find a supplier willing to serve them, or for some reason no longer receive generation services from another supplier.

Sustainable - Renewable or sustainable energy systems are those systems which provide energy services to people without depleting resources, endangering the planet or compromising the ability of future generations to use the same energy services.

Terms of Service - Content of the agreement between a customer and a supplier.

Title 52 - The section of the Pennsylvania Code that governs utilities.

Transition Charge (also known as stranded costs) - A temporary charge on every customer's bill designed to recover an electric utility's transition or stranded costs set by the Public Utility Commission. Most of this charge is not new; it has always been part of your rates.

Transmission - Interconnecting electric lines which move high voltage electricity from a generation facility to the distribution lines of an electric distribution company.

Transmission Charges - Part of the basic service charges on every customer's bill for transporting electricity from the source of supply to the electric distribution company. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates retail transmission prices and services. This charge will vary with your source of supply.

Unbundling - Breaking down electric services offered into parts so each part can be billed separately.

Universal Service - Policies, protections and services that help low-income customers maintain electric service.

Utility Competition - Two or more electric suppliers offering the same or similar goods or services in the same market place.

Variable Price - A price which can change, by the hour, day, month, etc.

Weatherization - Modifying a home or building to conserve energy. Methods include: sealing windows and door frames with caulking or gaskets, installing storm doors and windows, and adding or increasing the insulation value.

Wholesale Competition - A market where wholesale buyers can choose their electricity suppliers. Wholesale buyers, such as investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, cooperatives and other energy suppliers, resell the electricity to their retail customers.

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