Target: Elizabeth Warren, Senator, Massachusetts
Goal: Ensure alternative energy suppliers are regulated through federal legislation.
Thirteen states allow residents to choose the company that will be their energy supplier at unregulated pricing. In theory, this system should lower energy costs by introducing competition into the traditional model where customers are serviced by a single utility company. However, the alternative energy industry has suffered from widespread allegations of deceptive business practices and class action lawsuits resulting in multi-million dollar settlements.
Palmco is an alternative energy supplier which has faced legal action in several states due to reports that it misled customers regarding discounted pricing. Several dozen complaints filed with the FCC describe how salespeople moved door-to-door enticing customers to sign contracts with Palmco based on the promise of steep discounts, only to charge prices over 300 percent higher than the traditional utility after a two-month introductory period. Palmco agreed to a $5.6 million settlement in response to a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of New Jersey in 2016. The company is currently facing a similar lawsuit alleging deceptive business practices in Illinois.
The practices associated with Palmco appear to be an issue across the alternative energy supplier industry. A study conducted in Illinois found that customers of the 96 alternative suppliers operating in the state paid $126 million more than those receiving service from traditional utilities in 2016.
Action is urgently needed to ensure that alternative energy suppliers are not allowed to continue deceiving customers. Please sign the below petition calling on Congress to pass consumer protection regulations.
Dear Senator Warren,
You have earned a reputation for holding industries accountable which engage in deceptive business practices. This was true in both the Wells Fargo scandal and myriad examples of Wall Street corruption leading to creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Alternative energy suppliers are currently allowed to compete directly with traditional utility companies in 13 states at unregulated energy pricing. This has led to widespread complaints of dishonest sales practices in which customers are enticed to switch from traditional utility companies based on the promise of a lower rate, only to then be hit with increases of up to 300 percent following a short introductory period.
Attorney Generals in Illinois, New Jersey and your home state of Massachusetts have so far filed lawsuits against alternative energy suppliers for deceiving consumers. Please consider drafting legislation that would impose federal safeguards on this industry.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Silberfuchs