Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SB 971 testimony

Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee
SB 971 Public Service Companies – Gas and Electric Service –
Alternative Payment Agreements
Position: Favorable

March 16, 2010

The Honorable Thomas M. Middleton, Chair
3 East, Miller Senate Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
cc: Members, Senate Finance Committee

Honorable Chair Middleton and Members of the Senate Finance Committee:

The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) is a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations that advances and protects the interests of consumers through education, advocacy, and training programs. MCRC works to ensure fairness and safety in the marketplace. Our members include consumer advocates, practitioners, and low-and-moderate income families throughout Maryland.

MCRC supports SB 971 because the legislation addresses a problem many are facing in today’s economic climate. The legislation expands current law – which requires utility companies to offer alternative payment plans to customers who are behind in their payments before their electricity can be shut off – to include residential customers who are not considered low income. The person could be newly unemployed or be facing health issues; the bill includes criteria for determining a hardship situation.

There is a sunset provision in the bill so that it will not go on indefinitely and hopefully will not be needed when the economic climate improves. But it is clearly needed at this time.

Respectfully submitted,

Marceline White
Executive Director, MCRC


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