Claims of green benefits may be exaggerated
Re “Giving consumers a choice when buying their electricity” (Opinion, Nov. 29): Columnist Scot Lehigh cannot be blamed for being somewhat swayed by paid advocates for the retail electric supply industry, who make a compelling case for letting customers pick where to get their electricity. After gobbling up half a billion dollars more from Bay State residents than they would otherwise have paid from 2015 to 2021, the retail supply industry may well have the best spin doctors money can buy.
Lehigh asserts that calls to ban the industry in Massachusetts are an overreaction and that the state’s residential retail market should be fixed, not eliminated. After all, retail suppliers offer clean power from renewable sources to customers who are willing to pay more for electricity. Except, that’s not exactly true.
Customers are only paying a retail supplier a fee to purchase clean energy credits. Recently, the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center was a signatory to a letter that consumer organizations sent to the Federal Trade Commission about “greenwashing.” Selling energy with exaggerated claims of environmental benefits only hinders efforts to address climate change through electrification.
Finally, in support of legislation to protect residential electric customers in Massachusetts, NCLC staff attorney Jenifer Bosco testified in 2020 that the industry uses deceptive marketing practices to target “low-income consumers, older adults, and those with limited English language proficiency.”
Power for Tomorrow
Power for Tomorrow is a national trade association that advocates for regulation of electric utilities.