Sunday, December 5, 2021

Play

A new report shows, despite getting billions under the American Rescue Plan, many airlines continue to disrupt travelers' plans with cancellations, and Congress averts a government shutdown for now.

Play

U.S. House passes a stopgap government funding bill; the Omicron variant is found in Minnesota; Biden administration revives the "Remain in Mexico" policy; and the Bidens light the National Christmas Tree.

Play

Seniors in non-urban areas struggle with hunger disproportionately; rural communities make a push for federal money; and Planned Parenthood takes a case to the Montana Supreme Court.

New Tool Helps Monitor MD Third-Party Utility Bills

Play

Wednesday, November 17, 2021   

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - About 60 million American households get their energy from third-party suppliers, and a new online toolkit helps these consumers make sure they're not being overcharged.

Many don't realize that gas and electric suppliers in Maryland and other deregulated states offer so-called "teaser rates." The charges start off low, but end up increasing over time, according to Tammy Bresnahan, AARP Maryland's associate director of advocacy. She said door-to-door salespeople from these suppliers target seniors, immigrants and low-income neighborhoods - often those who can least afford the higher rates.

"What they're doing is perfectly legal," she said. "However, after like a three-month introductory rate, the cost goes to a variable rate. And what we've seen in some cases, that the rate will go five times more than what they would have been paying if they'd stayed with their regulated utility."

She said most people sign up for the bargain rate, then forget about it until they notice their bills have increased. To help, the toolkit from AARP provides a worksheet to help folks do the math and compare prices, along with a video and fact sheets. It's available on the AARP Maryland website.

Energy advocate Laurel Peltier, who developed the material for the toolkit, noted that the average Maryland family spends about $2,000 a year on utility bills. She said she thinks it's important to read the fine print, because third-party suppliers can end up costing a family an additional $400 a year.

"We're really good at shopping for other products, but we're not very good at shopping for home energy," she said, "and we will only benefit if we're smarter and we check our bills. And we're very careful when a salesman comes to the door and says, 'You're going to save money.'"

Maryland is one of 14 states, including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, that have deregulated both gas and electricity. She noted that since 2010, families in deregulated states have paid a total of $19 billion more for their energy when choosing a retail or third-party supplier instead of a regulated utility.

Disclosure: AARP Maryland contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Energy Policy, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
Indigenous people in Peru demonstrate against oil drilling in 2013. (Amazon Watch)

Environment

LOS ANGELES -- California-based facilities are refining half of all the oil drilled in the Amazon rain forests, according to a new report by the …


Environment

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- People who live on the Navajo Nation near the San Juan Basin are closely following work by the Environmental Protection Agency (…

Social Issues

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Connecticut is among several states working on what its new recreational marijuana industry will look like, and a new coalition …


In a statewide survey of Wisconsin school districts, 37% said they were unable to provide students with Wi-Fi cards or hotspots. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. -- Broadband gaps affect many facets of life, including education. The new federal infrastructure plan includes money to expand …

Environment

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- One of the major takeaways from last month's big climate conference in Scotland is, all levels of government need to …

New York City launched a community schools initiative in 2014. A study three years later found it had a positive impact on student attendance and credit accumulation. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) has released a new report this week, with recommendations from educators about how best to …

Social Issues

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Maryland civil rights groups are proposing a lawsuit against Baltimore County if it adopts its current redistricting plan, claiming …

Social Issues

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nearly seven in ten Americans say billionaires are not paying their fair share in taxes, according to a new survey. Among likely …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021