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Utility Surcharges, Fees Frustrate Consumers

Utility Surcharges, Fees Frustrate Consumers

June 12th, 2012 by Truman Lewis ConsumerAffairs in News

Consumers are fed up with higher utility bills and especially with the increased use of fees and surcharges by utility companies, a report compiled by AARP finds.

"AARP's new report demonstrates why we continue urging state regulators and lawmakers to deny consumer protection loopholes, such as fees and surcharges," said Elaine Ryan, AARP's Vice President for State Advocacy and Strategy. "In the past surcharges on our utility bills were permitted only in limited circumstances for costs that were substantial, volatile and uncontrollable but today these types of charges are becoming commonplace."

The report explains how the departure from a well-analyzed rate increase procedure to a hurried process with limited review by regulators could put consumers at risk. The report also includes the specific justifications utility companies use to push surcharges past regulators and information about why these claims are often invalid. Additionally featured are failed surcharge attempts and some of the many surcharges and fees consumers face today.

"AARP has been fighting to stop utility companies from unjustifiably increasing utility bills for over 20 years, and this report is our latest effort to stop them from burdening their customers with numerous fees added to the bottom line of bills," added Ryan. "This issue remains important to our members because affordable power to light, heat and cool our homes can often mean the difference between life and death for older Americans."

Since the launch of its Multi-State Utility Campaign in January of 2011, AARP said it has seen tremendous success in home energy savings for American families, with approximately 10.4 million 50+ customers benefiting from AARP's efforts on home energy affordability and $441 million in home energy savings as the result of AARP's efforts in 2012 alone.