As part of a campaign to alert Maryland residents to the state’s rising energy consumption and limited transmission capabilities, Greensburg, Pa.-based Allegheny Power recently mailed two compact fluorescent light bulbs to each of its customers, for which the firm is charging 99 cents a month for a year. This has angered many of the power company’s customers and sparked legislative action by Delegate Kevin Kelly. Kelly recently found out he was being charged $11.52 for the energy-efficient bulbs. The fee was hidden as a surcharge to his monthly bill, says Kelly. Power company spokesperson Todd Meyers said that the company chose to mail the bulbs because customers had been slow to adopt new energy-saving technology. According to Meyers, Allgheny Power made no profit on the bulbs, charging what it cost to buy and mail them.

No extra effort was made to inform customers that they would be paying for the bulbs, says Meyers, but information about the surcharge was available in filings with the Public Service Commission (PSC). Kelly said he believes the majority of area residents are under the impression they received two free light bulbs. The delegate requested via the Maryland Department of Legislative Services that a bill be drafted that would prohibit the PSC from authorizing such promotions. Kelly called the power company’s promotion a rip-off of an unsuspecting public.