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Meeting Resistance: Protecting CT Consumers from Electric Bill Shock

PHOTO: Companies that promise to save customers money on their electric bills -- and often wind up costing them more -- are not getting the scrutiny and regulation needed from the Connecticut Legislature, according to consumer advocates who are calling on the House to strengthen a regulation measure. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
PHOTO: Companies that promise to save customers money on their electric bills -- and often wind up costing them more -- are not getting the scrutiny and regulation needed from the Connecticut Legislature, according to consumer advocates who are calling on the House to strengthen a regulation measure. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
May 1, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. – Companies that promise to save customers money on their electric bills – and often wind up costing them more – are not getting the scrutiny and regulation needed from the Connecticut Legislature, according to consumer advocates.

An effort at curbing some of the practices of these third-party electric suppliers resulted in a bill that the Senate passed this week.

But John Erlingheuser of AARP Connecticut says the bill falls short in addressing at least six ways in which utility customers are being kept in the dark or bamboozled, including with cancellation fees.

"Even though the bill lowered the cancellation fees, there shouldn't be any,” Erlingheuser stresses. “I mean, there's enough money that these guys are making that there's no need for cancellation fees.”

He says older adults are frequently victimized by the contracts.

AARP Connecticut and other consumer advocacy groups are urgently calling on the House to amend the measure before passage.

Erlingheuser says there's irony in third-party electric companies that sell themselves as a way of saving money yet engage in many tactics that result in the opposite.

"So if that's really what it is meant to do – give people the ability to save money on their electric bills - then these protections are what need to be addressed,” he maintains. “These are the things that are causing people to get hurt, and none of it is addressed in the legislation that is being passed right now.”

Erlingheuser says the push is on for amendments that would toughen up the bill.

"Hopefully we can get if fixed down in the House of Representatives and we'll take if from there,” he says. “You know, we're very hopeful in that regard."

AARP Connecticut recently announced its research showed 77 percent of residents 50 and older think local elected officials are not doing enough to protect utility customers.




Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - CT