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Volume XVII, Issue 8 - February 19 - February 25, 2009
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Letters to the Editor

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Dear Bay Weekly:

I received a phone call from Spark Energy in February 2008, not at my request, with a suggestion to change to Spark Energy for a lower cost in my purchase of electricity. They assured me that the only difference I would see was a lower bill than I would have received from BGE. I still would only get one electricity bill because you save money by having BGE bill you. BGE would also continue to distribute the cheaper electricity that Spark purchased — always from the cheapest source each month — and service my meter, lines, etc.

Given the positive idea of (and purpose behind) deregulation of electricity providers in the past and my growing electric bills with BGE, I agreed to change electricity suppliers.

The first two months with Spark there was a slightly lower difference from BGE ($.1026 Spark vs $.1086 BGE per kilowatt hours) in charges, though BGE continued to charge me a distribution charge per hour of kilowatt, along with numerous other fees. 

My monthly bills, even with my ongoing cost-saving efforts, continued to climb. To add to the burden of the increasing cost, Spark did not bill me in June 2008 but double-billed for the month of June and July on my July bill. Normally this would have been very apparent, but it is confusing who is billing for what services. I figured that my energy-saving efforts were finally paying off. Instead, it was difficult to pay all at once.

For many months I tried to pay hundreds of dollars in advance of my bill, hoping to keep ahead of the mounting, foreseeable costs. Even that wasn’t working. Finally, I took a closer look at what Spark was charging vs. what BGE was charging over the past 11 months.

I called Spark customer service on February 13. I explained that I had paid more for Spark energy eight out of 11 months. Their rep said that I had agreed to variable rates — which, in my ignorance, I had. As hard as it was to believe, I would have spent less money had I remained with BGE.

I have filed a formal complaint with the Maryland Public Service Commission. I recommend to others who have tried to use the deregulation of Maryland’s electric vendors to their benefit to check what their non-BGE vendors are charging. I am not a happy consumer of BGE’s, but I can’t afford Maryland’s hope for deregulation. It doesn’t appear to be working.

Please consider filing a complaint against your high electric bills with Maryland Public Service Commission at: www.psc.state.md.us.

–Cheryl Emery, Owings

Department of Corrections

Credit is due to Colburn Images for the photograph of Colonial Players’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses that illustrated Jane Elkin’s Feb. 12 review of the production.

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