From Alaska to Florida, AARP is fighting to save you money on your utility bills and protect reliable utility services. So far, this year and last, we have kept an estimated $3 billion in the pockets of consumers. And that savings on your behalf is why we’re in this. Whether it’s your electricity, gas or phone, in 42 states we’re fighting for affordable, reliable, accessible utility service — for you.
Here are highlights of some major victories AARP won for you
- After hearing from thousands of AARP members, the Arizona Corporation Commission decided not to move forward with the deregulation of electric services in the state. AARP Arizona fought hard against deregulation efforts because they would have likely led to increased costs for consumers — as evidenced in other states.
- In California, Assembly Bill (AB) 327 passed with bipartisan support and was signed by the governor. The bill will give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) the ability to implement fair and reasonable reforms of the state’s electric rate structure. According to Katie Hirning, AARP California state director, “AB 327, while allowing the CPUC to update California’s electric rate structure, implements strong consumer protections.” AARP now urges the governor to sign AB 327 into law.
- In Colorado, AARP fought against the deregulation of telephone service, which could have led to higher bills and weakened consumer protections.
- In Connecticut, AARP fought successfully to defeat an “Energy Auction” proposal that would have impacted 800,000 customers of CL&P and UI who use “standard service.” If the proposal had passed, the electric accounts of these customers would have been sold to the highest bidding private energy company — without their permission, and with no guarantee of any savings in the future.
- In Connecticut and Kentucky, AARP protected reliable landline phone service for customers who count on it.
- In Kansas, AARP fought to protect utility customers from a massive rate increase, proposed by Westar Energy. After hearing from hundreds of AARP members, the Kansas Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board and staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission reached an agreement to give Westar Energy about a million dollars less than the company requested. The groups also denied Westar’s proposal to impose higher monthly rates on residential customers and small businesses so it can decrease rates for large businesses. The proposed agreement means Westar customers would see a monthly increase of $3 instead of the proposed $7.50 to $15.
- In Missouri, AARP saved consumers hundreds of millions of dollars by stopping three pieces of electric, water and gas legislation, each of which would have raised rates. The first, imposing electric utility surcharges, died in the legislature. The water utilities proposal went down to defeat in the state senate, and Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the third, which would have let natural gas utilities increase surcharges.
- Good news in New York — Verizon has decided to rebuild landlines damaged by Superstorm Sandy with fiber optics instead of offering only the wireless option, Voice Link. AARP New York advocated for the continuation of traditional, landline phone service because it is a lifeline for many, especially seniors who count on it for Life Alert, medical monitoring devices, home security systems and emergency services.
- In Ohio, AARP was a leading voice for consumers in a successful effort to reach a settlement by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that significantly reduced proposed rate increases. AARP also helped turn back House Bill 95, which would have weakened regulatory oversight of gas rates and driven up home energy costs.
- In Oklahoma, AARP won a rate decrease of more than $600,000 for residential gas and electric customers.
- As recently highlighted in the New York Times, AARP South Carolina volunteers raised their voices in opposition to Duke Energy’s request for a rate increase that would have increased yearly bills by an average of $213. They attended public hearings — often shaking mason jars full of coins to represent their hard-earned savings — sent emails and rallied support. Under a settlement, Duke’s rate request was not fully granted, and customers will see their rates rise 10 percent as opposed to 16 percent.
- In Wyoming, AARP fought successfully to protect the Office of Consumer Advocate.
And, we’re still fighting
- In Alabama, AARP is fighting for our members and Alabama families against unfair gas and electric bills. AARP Alabama State President Jack Bradford said, “As AARP Alabama’s volunteer state president, I see firsthand how unfair utility bills affect many of our 450,000 members who live on fixed incomes. They struggle to pay some of the highest electric bills in the country and often have to choose between paying for medicine, groceries or their electricity.”
- AARP New Jersey is speaking up against a request from PSE&G that would raise rates by $3.9 billion for New Jersey customers. State residents are speaking out to tell the Board of Public Utilities how this rate increase will hurt their families.
- While a win in New York, Voice Link is still in Verizon’s plans for New Jersey. AARP has filed a formal request with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to investigate Verizon’s plan to offer its new wireless Voice Link service instead of traditional landline service.
- In New York, we’re fighting to create an Independent Utility Advocate Office as a watchdog to protect consumers.
And, there’s much more to come. To stay up-to-date on AARP’s multistate utilities campaign, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter.
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