Switched Your Energy Supplier to XOOM? You May Be Eligible for a Refund

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If you switched your home’s energy supplier to XOOM Energy anytime between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2014, the rebate information below applies to you. Hurry, though: you only have until next Monday to get your refund paperwork to XOOM.

Those who switched their home’s energy supplier should check to see if they are overpaying for electricity. Though the purchase of switching is regulated to some degree, the pricing part of changing energy suppliers in Maryland is 100 percent “buyer beware.” At least $137 million has been sucked out of Marylanders’ checkbooks into energy suppliers’ vaults. That’s a shame, since energy choice is a good idea — in theory at least.

XOOM Energy violated Maryland Public Service Commission‘s consumer protection rules for a group of residential customers enrolled with XOOM between the start of 2013 and the final day of 2014. Orders from the commission say the company sent inaccurate automatic renewal notices to these customers and failed to share that customer’s residential energy rates switched from fixed rates to variable rates. XOOM also didn’t state that customers had cancellation rights.

Variable Rates Are Risky

The real bummer is that XOOM’s communication lapse happened during the “polar vortex” during that chilly winter in 2014, when record low temps drove up energy prices. Variable energy rates mirror the overall energy market. During the cold snap, many electric choice consumers and businesses were therefore slammed with outrageous utility bills

Review the Office of People’s Counsel XOOM fact sheet for refund directions. The refund must be snail mailed. To reiterate, it’s due by Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. 

Consumer Electric Choice Reality Has Been a Mess

Deregulation in 1999 was intended to create an efficient market hopefully leading to better consumer values. The chart below pretty much blows that out of the water. In 2015, the average Maryland electric choice residential customer paid $140 more than if they had stuck with their utility. What’s also shocking is that the $64 million residential customers overpaid in 2015 is on par with the 2014 “polar vortex” year’s overpayment. 

For reference, BGE’s standard kilowatt rate is fixed at $0.09 through May 2017. BGE has two fixed standard electricity rates: A winter rate from October through May, and a summer rate from June through September. BGE electricity kilowatt rates have hovered near $0.09 for the past few years. Natural gas rates do vary month to month.

The second to last column is how much the average residential customer that switched electricity suppliers overpaid in 2015. Source: E.I.A.. form 861 Sales_Ult_Cust file. Firms in green are selling renewable products which can command a price premium, but some offer variables rates, too. 

Laurel Peltier
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel writes the environmental GreenLaurel column every other Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of UVA's MBA program, she spends her time with her family and making "all things green" interesting.
Laurel Peltier
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