Tuesday, November 29, 2011

AARP Loses Round One in Fight for Utility Consumer Advocate

Posted by on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Idaho's largest membership organization is conceding what it calls "round one" in the debate over a new energy plan for the Gem State. But AARP Idaho is ready to continue the fight.

The Idaho Legislature's Interim Committee on Energy, Technology and Environment approved a revised plan, which was last visited in 2007. But the committee chose not to include a consumer advocate in its recommendations.

"It's clear whose voice was heard and whose wasn't-consumers spoke up and lost out in the current version of Idaho's energy plan," said Jim Wordelman, state director for AARP. "(Idaho utility companies) shut this issue and the needs of consumers down, for now."

Wordelman said Idaho is the only Western state lacking a utility consumer advocate office.

More than 40 percent of Idahoans 50 and older reported already having difficulty affording their utility bills. In many cases, older consumer are forced to make choices between turning up the thermostat and filling a prescription.

"AARP will revisit the creation of the consumer advocate office in the upcoming legislative session," said Wordelman.

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