Area lawmakers demand Allegheny refund customers for light bulbs

January 11, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - A group of Western Maryland state lawmakers told Allegheny Power Thursday they expect customer refunds on a light-bulb distribution effort, said Del. Christopher B. Shank, who said he was there.

"We know they spent around $2 million," said Shank, R-Washington. "We said to them, 'You need to eat it, basically.'"

An Allegheny Power filing with the Maryland Public Service Commission, which approved the compact fluorescent light program in September, confirms that estimate.

"Allegheny expects the CFL Mailing program costs to be approximately $2,405,600," the filing says.

Western Maryland lawmakers have accused the utility of misleading customers with a mailing that appeared to be free, but wasn't.

Allegheny Power has said the light bulbs use less energy and last longer and were meant as a conservation measure.

Allegheny spokesman Todd Meyers has said the company might have made "an oversight" in not clearly explaining that an "energy conservation surcharge" that started in October - 96 cents per month for 12 months - was linked to the light-bulb mailing two months later.


The PSC is meeting with Allegheny Wednesday to discuss the light-bulb program.

Shank is thinking about filing a bill ordering Allegheny to refund the money. Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany, has requested a bill to prevent the PSC from approving a program like that again.

On Thursday in Annapolis, Allegheny government affairs representative Jay Mason met with several lawmakers from Washington, Frederick, Garrett and Allegany counties. Shank said he, Sen. Donald F. Munson and Sen. George C. Edwards were there representing Washington County.

It was not considered a public meeting and The Herald-Mail wasn't notified.

"We left him with a message loud and clear that our constituents will accept nothing less than a refund and an apology," Shank said by phone after the meeting.

He said Mason is supposed to take that message back to top Allegheny officials.

Allegheny spokesman Mike Grandillo said Thursday night that the company doesn't comment on its meetings with elected officials.

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