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Power lines near a substation in southeastern Howard County belong to Baltimore Gas and Electric.
Power lines near a substation in southeastern Howard County belong to Baltimore Gas and Electric. (Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)

On behalf of our 870,000 members across the state and their families, AARP Maryland advocates for protections for utility customers to ensure affordable and reliable gas and electricity. We applaud the Sun for its coverage of third-party energy suppliers and their intentionally misleading marketing practices that leave vulnerable consumers paying more — not less — for their utilities (“Free electricity promised but not delivered," Dec. 5).

Scott Dance’s reporting reflects stories that we have heard time and again — that too often, third-party energy suppliers, after enticing consumers with a low introductory rate, over-charge them once the introductory time has lapsed. We have also found that many of these customers are older and lower income, leaving them less empowered to extricate themselves from confusing contracts and exorbitant cancellation fees.

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This practice has widespread community implications beyond fairness and decency. When people can no longer afford their now-expensive utility bills, public energy assistance programs funded by taxpayers pick up the cost.

During the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, AARP Maryland will be fighting to provide consumers with recourse from abusive and illegal marketing tactics of third party energy suppliers. We look forward to working with the Office of People’s Counsel and legislative leadership to ensure accountability from the industry’s bad actors and promote fairness and transparency in the marketplace.

Jim Campbell, Baltimore

The writer is state president of AARP Maryland.

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