Electric customers on the South Shore continue to pay far more for electricity from “competitive” third-party companies that target low-income communities than they would buying straight from an electric company.
The Attorney General’s Office released an updated report last month on competitive electric pricing which found that electric consumers across the state overpaid $85.7 million for electricity between July 2019 and June 2020.
Between 2015 and 2020, consumers in the state overpaid $425.7 million to third-party companies, which she says target low-income communities.
In just September of 2019, consumers on the South Shore overpaid $949,000 for electricity, according to the report. Data on how much members of each town overpaid for electricity was only compiled one month of each year. The data showing the total amount consumers overpaid each year was not tied to location.
On the South Shore, Weymouth led with the highest loss to consumers, $141,000 in September 2019 followed by Quincy with $117,000 and Randolph with $113,000.
Susan Baldwin, the report’s author, said in it that she found a disproportionate number of the electric consumers signed up with third parties are considered low income and that the companies target those communities.
She said in the report that the “competitive” suppliers charge higher rates to residents in communities with low median incomes and communities with higher percentages of “minority households.”
Annually, the average household overpays $194 but low-income households overpay more — $241 on average annually.
Attorney General Maura Healey said in a press release that her office has heard “far too many stories” of companies going door-to-door and calling residents with false promises of lower electricity bills, which instead result in higher prices and contracts they cannot get out of.
The Attorney General’s Office has received more than 1,000 complaints about the electric supply companies, including harassing behavior, salespeople forcing themselves into the homes of the elderly and salespeople pretending to work for utility companies.
“It’s time to pass legislation to protect our residents from these inflated prices and put an end to this deception,” Healey said in the press release.
Healey said that legislation filed on her behalf would stop suppliers from signing up new “individual” customers, but would not affect municipal aggregation programs or commercial customers.
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Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at email@example.com.