Time to put an end to whack-a-mole electricity sellers
Companies promise savings, but customer bills actually go up
By Massachusetts Maura Healey August 1, 2019
We’ve all seen these companies in action. They go door to door, send letters in the mail, and call over and over with promises of cheaper electricity or a locked-in low rate that they claim will save you money. In the last four years, we’ve received more than 1,000 complaints from residents, reporting aggressive sales tactics and outright deception, and last year we decided to take a closer look at what these companies were doing.
The results are troubling. All across Massachusetts, hundreds of thousands of residents aren’t paying less with these suppliers, they’re paying more. In fact, they’re paying a lot more. A report issued by my office in 2018 found that, between July 2015 and June 2017, Massachusetts electricity customers overpaid for electricity by $176.8 million. Today we’re issuing a supplemental report that shows the trend continued into 2018, bringing the total three-year net losses to $253 million.
When you dive in deeper, the numbers look even worse. Our investigation shows that low-income customers, particularly those in Massachusetts Gateway Cities are being hit particularly hard by this industry. Residents of Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Quincy, Springfield, and Worcester have all suffered some of the largest losses. Participation among African-American households is significantly higher than for the rest of the state. In Lawrence, the residents who signed up are shelling out an extra $18, on average, per month to competitive electric suppliers. In Worcester, 17,786 families forked over an extra $259,315 in just one-month last year.