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“Baltimore Sun” Utilities in Maryland Should Attract More Low-Income Residents to Energy Savings Programs, Report Says

By Lorraine Mirabella

Low-income utility customers in Maryland pay more collectively for energy savings programs offered by utilities than they receive in benefits, according to the Office of People’s Counsel for Maryland, a state agency that advocates for residential utility consumers.

All utility consumers statewide pay a surcharge on their gas and electric bills for EmPOWER, which is a mix of programs rewarding consumers who reduce energy consumption. EmPOWER is run by Baltimore Gas and Electric and five other utilities around the state, as well as by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

But EmPOWER fails to meet the needs of low-income customers, the Office of People’s Counsel said in a report released Friday.

“Low-income customers are paying much more into the program than they are getting out,” David S. Lapp, the head of People’s Counsel, said in an interview. “It’s a pretty substantial gap. … It’s really because participation levels are low.”

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