Some customers getting partial refunds on energy overpayments

May 15, 2019 07:44 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- Are you overpaying for your energy? You may want to check your bill right now.

A News10NBC investigation last week exposed how some energy suppliers have been charging double, triple, even quadruple the going-rate for electric and gas compared to RG&E, NYSEG and National Grid. Since then, we've learned some customers, with the help of state regulators, have been able to secure partial refunds. 


There are dozens of energy service companies (ESCOs) licensed to sell gas and electric here in New York state. For years, many of them have promised big savings to customers who will switch over from the utility but often the savings are minimal at best and only last a few months.

If a customer forgets to switch back to the utility, they can and have been getting walloped with big bills.  

Years ago, both Mary MaCentee and Jan Bennett decided to use an ESCO for the supply of their energy. The bills continued coming from RG&E who was still delivering the power so they didn't think much more about it.  

Then, things seemed to be getting expensive so they did a little investigating.

"I discovered that I'm being charged almost 17 cents per kilowatt-hour (for electric) and RG&E comparable is about four cents per hour," MaCentee tells News10NBC.

"I found out I was getting charged at least anywhere from three-eight times as much as what I would be charged with RG&E," added Bennett.  

Both MaCentee and Bennett were customers of Direct Energy and so was Tracy Lavalley-Hall. She realized she was overpaying when she compared her bills to her in-laws who live across the street.

"We were paying four times per kilowatt-hour than they were," she recalls.

Over the course of two years, Lavalley-Hall says she overpaid by about $4,000. She called Direct Energy and demanded a refund.

"Their first offer was around $50, then after about two weeks of arguing with them, they offered me $500," she tells News10NBC.  

Some people might have taken the $500 and cut their losses but not Lavalley-Hall. She filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Public Service which regulates ESCOs, providing all of the comparison prices she had gathered from her utility NYSEG.

After state regulators intervened, Direct Energy upped their refund offer to about $1,800.

News10NBC reached out to Direct Energy.  A spokesman said he stands by the statement he provided last week.

The statement reads, "We encourage all customers to shop for an energy plan that fits their needs. In Rochester, we offer many different plans for both new and current customers, at times below the utility rate with no cancellation fees." 

At times, maybe, but none recently for a number of Direct Energy customer that have contacted News10NBC.

"Definitely contact the PSC, definitely file the complaint to get back what you can and ask everybody you know to check their bill, check it... look at that last page," warns Lavalley-Hall.

To compare energy prices in NYS, click here.

To file a complaint about an ESCO or Utility with the NYSDPS, click here.


Jennifer Lewke

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