People's Counsel in the news on MPT and WYPR, talking about high winter bills and the role of extreme variable rates charged by energy suppliers LINK to NEWS WATCH
CHECK OUT THE STATUS OF OPC TESTIMONY ON VARIOUS BILLS HEARD IN THE 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION. LINK to STATE LEGISLATION.
OPC argues its appeal of PEPCO rate case order in Baltimore City Circuit court on April 22, 2014. OPC appealed the PSC decision to permit PEPCO to use a surcharge to collect reliability related costs.
New law requires the PSC to set up a work group and evaluate the adequacy of its existing supplier consumer protection rules. This is timely in light of the variable rate problems for consumers, and consumer complaints about slamming and deceptive marketing.
PSC issues order in Case 9340, addressing high winter bills, utility plans to assist customers and the role played by extreme variable pricing by energy suppliers. OPC testified and submitted recommendations in that case, and will be part of the work groups established by the Commission to look at rule changes.
OPC files a Request for Rehearing of the PSC's order on Starion Energy in PSC Case 9340 on April 7, 2014. The Commission found numerous serious consumer protections violations and imposed a substantial penalty, but left some important issues on the table regarding Starion's deceptive variable pricing practices and violations of the Telephone Solicitations Act.
Due to high complaint volumes this winter, the PSC opens investigations of several energy suppliers regarding Variable Rate Pricing Practices this winter (2013-2014) in PSC 9346 and 9347. OPC sought relief for Starion Energy customers for high prices in 2012-2013 winter, and will pursue relief in these cases as well.
Columbia Gas submits another STRIDE Gas surcharge application on April 1, 2014, after PSC rejects its first application, challenged by OPC. Testimony and hearings will be scheduled.
Hearing on PEPCO's $37 million rate increase request starts on April 22, 2014. OPC has challenged the rate request with testimony from four (4) witnesses. Check the Public Hearings list for hearing on this rate request, with dates for local public comments.
OPC goes to Washington County Circuit Court to oppose Columbia Gas appeal of a PSC rate case order in PSC 9316. The Company wants to collect money to clean up a property that has not been of any use to its customers. OPC had successfully challenged the Company's request in the PSC proceedings.
Two Maryland water companies file for rate increases. Green Ridge Utilities (Harford County) and Maryland Water Service (Allegany County). OPC will represent residential customers in those cases, with assistance from an experienced technical consultant.
OPC filed appeal of BGE rate case order in Baltimore City Circuit Court
CONSUMER ALERT--NEW WEBSITE to address high bill problems this winter: http://energy.maryland.gov/Residential/assistance/EmergencyColdWeatherEnergyAssistance.htm. This highlights the commitment of major utilities to provide payment plans and new budget billing assistance for customers receiving high bills this winter.
CONSUMER ALERT--Public Service Commission has issued an order in Case #9340 (2014 Utility Arrearage, Collection, and Termination Practices). OPC filed Written Comments and testified on March 7, 2014.
CONSUMER ALERT--HIGH WINTER BILLS--OPC has prepared two alert notices with information about high winter bills, utility budget billing plans to help consumers, and energy assistance referrals. BGE Special 2014 Budget Billing Plan High Winter Bills Information Alert