March 29, 2018

AG Healey calls for end to competitive electric supply industry

Photo | State House News Service
Attorney General Maura Healey

Attorney General Maura Healey on Thursday called for an end to the competitive electricity supply market for residential customers, saying the industry's aggressive door-to-door sales tactics targets low-income, elderly and minority residents.

Healey's comments came during a press conference following the release of a report finding the state's electric customers who switched to a competitive electric supplier paid an extra $176.8 million than if they had just stayed with their electric utility company between July 2016 and June 2017.

According to the report, nearly 500,000 Massachusetts residents receive electricity from a competitive supplier, and those companies targeted low-income and minority residents in Worcester, Springfield, Brockton, Lynn, Lowell, Lawrence, Fall River, Quincy and New Bedford.

According to Healey's report, Worcester topped the list of municipalities with the highest aggregate net consumer loss thanks to competitive suppliers in June 2017 with $274,749, an average household loss of $14.42.

The report found 36 percent of low-income households received their electricity from a competitive supplier, double the rate among other customers.

In Worcester, 42 percent of low income customers received electricity from a competitive supplier, in June 2017, while just 28 percent of all payers did so, according to Healey's report.

"Competitive electric suppliers promise big energy savings but are actually burdening customers with hundreds of dollars in extra costs," Healey said in her announcement. "I'm calling for an end to this industry because that's the best way to protect our seniors, low-income residents, and minority communities from these persistent scams."

Healey's report comes just days after she announced a $5-million settlement with Viridian Energy, LLC for deceptive marketing and sales tactics resulting in customers signing contracts with high electric supply rates.

The company agreed to pay $4.6 million to affected customers and $400,000 to the state's general fund.

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