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Md. man charged for bulbs he didn't get

Tom ArenobineâEUR(TM)s power surcharge was 32 cents higher than others

Tom ArenobineâEUR(TM)s power surcharge was 32 cents higher than others

January 12, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

CLEAR SPRING ? Tom Arenobine was surprised, but not concerned, when he started reading stories in The Herald-Mail about a surcharge being added to Allegheny Power bills for energy-efficient light bulbs.

"I thought it was absurd, but I didn't think I'd be affected because I was not a customer when it started," said Arenobine, who signed up for electric service through Allegheny in November.

But Arenobine received two shocks with his December electric bill, which came in the mail last week.

Not only was there an energy conservation surcharge listed, but it was for $1.28 ? 32 cents higher than the 96-cent monthly fee he had read about.

And Arenobine had received no light bulbs.

He called an Allegheny Power customer service representative, who told him that the surcharge paid for educational materials to be sent to customers and schools as well as light bulbs. Arenobine said Allegheny refused to remove the charge, but offered to send him two light bulbs.

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"I told them I don't want them," Arenobine said. "I understand the whole energy-efficiency thing, but I'll purchase them on my own. I just wanted the charge removed."

Spokeswoman: Surcharge a flat rate of 96 cents a month

Janis Lantz, a spokeswoman for Allegheny Power, said Saturday that the energy conservation surcharge is a flat rate of 96 cents per month for all customers.

She said she did not know why the surcharge on Arenobine's bill was higher, but said customers with questions may call Allegheny Power on Monday.

The surcharge, which is effective for one year, began in October. Allegheny customers were notified of the surcharge at that time, according to company spokesman Todd Meyers.

Allegheny Power has said that the $11.52 fee, divided over 12 96-cent monthly payments, covers the cost of two compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and an energy education effort.

In a filing to the Maryland Public Service Commission, Allegheny wrote "after six months, Allegheny will send two CFLs to all new residential customers who may have moved into the service territory during the previous six months who did not receive the initial mailing."

But Arenobine said he probably will try to return the bulbs if he receives them in the mail.

"It's just the principle, not the $11," he said. "I'll eat and live next week. It's just that it's an unsolicited item that I don't need or want."

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