Energy Surprise!

My home energy bill arrived Thursday night and my electric charge was $1198.  My wife commented that it could be right, as the weather was so cold and the heat has been running non-stop for a month.  Hmmm…Upon further inspection, I compared last month’s bill to this one and noticed that the electric rate that I was being charged had increased over 60%.  How could that be?  I learned that when I signed up with a company called North American Power, they guaranteed me a fixed rate 8.29 cents per kWh, but for only six months.  The six-monthfixed rate expired on February 12 and the new crazy highvariable rate (18.99) automatically kicked-in on February 13.  BGE bills me on a cycle starting February 14, so my bill was the result of being charged the high rate for the entire thirty day billing cycle, instead of just two days.

 First call went to BGE to request that I switch out of North American and back to them for a nice fixed rate; but, alas, they cannot accept my business until I first cancel with the other supplier.  Uh oh.  This could be trouble and take some time.  Well, just in case, I cancel my automatic payment feature so I can contest the charge and leverage my position.  Second call to the supplier, North American.  They are not picking up the phone, but the CEO in a recorded loop tells me how much they care about me.  Next call, the Maryland Public Service Commission to file a complaint which states that I cannot ‘cancel’ my service with the supplier.  Ok, so now I have stopped payment to these bandits so I can contest the charge and have documented with a State agency my desire to terminate the expensive rate immediately.  Time to check in again with my friends at North American.  We finally chat.  They tell me I do not have a fixed rate and even if I did, their bill is still correct.  Then comes that light bulb moment: I remember that I kept that silly piece of paper they mailed to me that defines the term and the cost of the contract.  “Mr. Angelos, fax that right over and we will review your account”.  Refund of $554.74.

 I hope by relating my experience, you will remember to save those simple paper contracts and to continue to watch your home costs and expenses carefully.  BGE can be reached at 410-685-0123, the Maryland Public Service Commission, 410-767-8028.

 Be well.  John CM

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