— 12/26 Scam Alert: During the winter season, we see an increase in scammers calling consumers and pretending to be a representative from their local utility provider.  The fraudster will claim that your previous payments haven’t cleared or that you owe them money. They will tell you that you need to pay the outstanding over the phone, or else your power, heat, or water will be turned off within the hour. The swindler will insist that you didn’t pay the bill …

— A couple of years ago Indianapolis Power & Light Co. (IPL) raised utility rates. Now they want to raise them again. IPL is requesting an increase of about $96.7 million in overall annual operating revenues – that’s a 7.1% increase!  Worse yet — they want to increase the “fixed charge” – which is the amount we customers pay regardless of how much electricity we use – from $17 to $27 a month. This is a 60% increase for Hoosier customers …

— The South Carolina House of Representatives has taken an important step toward helping utility ratepayers by approving HB4379, which establishes a Utility Consumer Advocate. The bill received nearly unanimous approval and now goes to the state Senate for consideration. AARP South Carolina is pleased to support the bill, one of several utility reform measures that the General Assembly is expected to consider this session. HB4379 comes from the House Utility Ratepayer Committee, which convened last summer in the wake of …

— In true Pennsylvania Dutch fashion, there was a smorgasbord of activity in Harrisburg this week while the legislature was in session and were negotiating the state budget with Governor Wolf. Here is a recap of some notable issues that could impact Pennsylvanians age 50 and older:   Has PA Made Progress on Addressing Alzheimers? A Capitol hearing room was packed on Wednesday, June 22 as Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne and Alzheimer’s advocates testified before the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee about …

— SCE&G is asking state regulators to approve another $852 million increase in the projected cost of building two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, but the company says the potential for any other cost increases is limited. If the state Public Service Commission approves the higher cost, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.’s 702,000 electric customers would likely face higher rates. SCE&G says their rate increase request “fixes” costs thus limiting future cost increases. Is this really the case? AARP South …

— More than three years since Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, residents are still battling the fallout, including power companies’ demands to raise rates to repair and upgrade infrastructure. On behalf of consumers, AARP New Jersey is fighting unreasonable rate hikes. Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) proposed a $1.6 billion increase to replace aging, leaky cast-iron gas pipes with stronger plastic lines. Amid pressure from AARP and other consumer advocates, PSE&G agreed to scale back the project to $905 million. …

How to avoid phone scams.

— In an age of expanding cellphone use, AARP aims to ensure Mainers who rely on landlines for medical needs, safety or to reduce isolation continue to have that option. FairPoint Communications, the largest landline telephone provider in Maine, is asking lawmakers to release it and other telecommunications companies from an obligation to provide basic landline service throughout the state. FairPoint currently provides basic local service to 25,000 customers in Maine, many of whom live in rural areas where cellular service …

— It isn’t bad enough that two million Ohioans who receive Social Security checks have been denied a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the year ahead after being told the higher prices they are paying for food and medicine don’t count as inflation. Now they might have to endure a hike in their electric bills, too, just in time for colder weather and the holidays. A settlement proposed by the staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and …

—   AARP Kansas Advocacy Volunteer David Wilson provided testimony at the Atmos Energy rate hike request public hearing on December 1, 2015 in Overland Park.  Wilson was the only member of the public to speak at the hearing which was live-streamed on the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) website. According to the KCC website, on August 13th, 2015, Atmos Energy filed an application with the Kansas Corporation Commission for a $5.6 million base rate increase, stating that current rates are not …

—   Kansas Voters Also Oppose Efforts to Raise Fixed Monthly Costs for Electric and Gas Service   In the midst of proposed rate increases by Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light (KCPL), a majority of Kansas voters surveyed by AARP Kansas indicated they are concerned about future increases in electric rates.   More than eight in ten of those who were surveyed indicated that an increase in their household utility bill would be a significant problem for them.   …