March 18, 2019

Electricity supplier to provide restitution to 1,300 Worcester County residents

Photo | State House News Service
Attorney General Maura Healey

About 1,300 Worcester County residents have been mailed checks as part of the second phase of restitution payments Viridian Energy must make to settle deceptive sales tactics.

According to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, about 300 of those residents are in Worcester, 70 from Leominster, 60 from Southbridge, 50 from Millbury and 50 from Webster and others from a host of other Central Mass. municipalities.

The payments are part of a $5-million settlement reached with Connecticut-based competitive energy supplier Viridian Energy last March. Attorney General Maura Healey said the company lured people into deceptive contracts with misleading sales tactics.

In total, the company has already mailed two series of checks totaling about $2.7 million in restitution checks to about 31,000 Massachusetts customers.

Two other phases of checks are due for the middle of 2019 and early 2020.

Customers qualify for restitution if they signed up for the company's services before May 2018, enrolled in a variable-rate contract, were automatically renewed from a fixed-rate contract to a variable-rate contract, enrolled through a door-to-door sales company Platinum Advertising or enrolled in a fixed-rate contract with a three-year term between September 2014 and August 2015.

Healey has called for an end to the competitive electric supply market, saying the industry targets low-income residents, minorities and the elderly. Her office filed legislation in January to prohibit competitive suppliers from signing up residential customers to new contracts beginning in 2020.

She issued a report last year showing electric customers who switched to a competitive electric supplier paid an extra $176.8 million than if they had simply stayed with their electric company between July 2016 and June 2017.

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.

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