The Day – End of electrical deregulation. He failed.

In 1998, to help reduce people’s energy bills, Connecticut lawmakers created a new policy allowing state residents to purchase electricity from companies competing with their local power companies. . Today, about 25,000 people in the state get their electricity from competitive suppliers. But if the rationale for this controversial effort was to save money, then this policy of deregulation has failed.

According to an analysis from the Connecticut Office of Consumers Council, over the past five years, taxpayers using third-party providers have spent more than $ 274 million more on electricity than if they had stayed with the local energy company for their electricity.

In response to this outrageous wealth transfer, Governor Ned Lamont recently signed legislation that attempts to make it harder for these competitive vendors to rip people off. But rather than trying to thwart these bad actors who cheat on people in Connecticut, wouldn’t it make more sense to ban competing suppliers all together?

That is why my organization is calling on the Connecticut General Assembly to pass legislation ending competitive sourcing once and for all.

Realize that one of the worst aspects of deregulation is that companies offering competition to local utilities often use “illegal and deceptive” sales tactics to take advantage of less sophisticated customers. This deceptive marketing usually offers the promise of savings, but locks customers into unfavorable deals that mean they pay more for electricity than if they had stayed with their local utility company.

That’s why John Erlingheuser, director of advocacy for the American Association of Retirees of Connecticut, recently wrote an op-ed opposing the competitive offer. He spoke out against a tactic used by competing vendors to deceive people called “auto-renew”. Essentially, this policy is a bait and a switch, as competing providers subscribe you to electricity at a discounted rate to entice you, and then automatically renew you to continue getting electricity at a higher rate than what you are charged by. the local power company. .

This problem of competitive suppliers taking advantage of low-income customers has become so serious that last year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, working in conjunction with other state agencies , including the attorney general’s office, released a statement that “a third-party electricity supplier targets low-income customers, saying Eversource Energy plans to increase its fees due to COVID-19.” It was completely wrong and a blatant attempt to overcharge their customers.

For full disclosure, I work for an organization made up of consumer advocates, electric utilities, former lawmakers – Democrats and Republicans – and organized workers bent on exposing the risks of deregulation.

The facts are clear: Deregulation allows competitive energy providers to overload their customers and benefit low-income families by charging them higher electricity bills. The General Assembly should end competitive sourcing once and for all.

Gary Meltz is the Executive Director of Power for Tomorrow. His commentary originally appeared in The Connecticut Mirror ( Copyright 2021 © The Mirror of Connecticut.

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