Content starts here

AARP Is Fighting for Affordable, Safe, and Reliable Utilities Across the Country

Every day, millions of Americans are feeling the weight of inflation. The cost of necessities such as food, housing, healthcare, and transportation are all on the rise, and people’s dollars just aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. In fact, recent AARP research finds that 41% of adults aged 30 and over are worried about having enough money to cover their basic expenses.

And while inflation impacts almost everyone, older adults are especially sensitive to rising prices. Retired and on a fixed income, many are left making difficult decisions about how to keep up with their household expenses like food and medications. Not to mention, spending more on the items you need today leaves you with less to save for retirement tomorrow. And these days, retirement savings might have to last someone for 25 years or more.

That’s why, at a time when Americans are struggling to keep their budget in check and save for the future, I’m particularly proud of AARP’s work across the country to advocate on behalf of consumers for affordable utilities.

This work is essential to keeping hard-earned dollars in folks’ pockets, and I’d like to share a few recent noteworthy examples:

AARP Illinois Volunteer Speaking at an ICC Open Hearing
AARP Illinois Volunteer Speaking at an ICC Open Hearing

In Chicago, AARP Illinois led the charge against Peoples Gas’ attempt to raise gas rates by $142 a year. Our members, volunteers, and activists made it clear that they would not accept these unsupported rate hikes, mobilizing in force to share their opposition at public hearings and signing over 13,000 petitions. In the end, AARP’s formal participation in the rate case and the comments of thousands of Chicagoans made a real difference. The Illinois Commerce Commission slashed the initial ask by 25% and adopted AARP Illinois’ recommendation to also keep the customer charge—what people pay for gas before they even turn on the stove—at $30.45 per month as opposed to $45 as requested by the utility.

AARP California Volunteers Expressing Opposition to Rate Hikes Outside the California Public Utilities Commission
AARP California Volunteers Expressing Opposition to Rate Hikes Outside the California Public Utilities Commission

AARP California helped mitigate how much Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) bills would go up in the utility’s latest attempt to saddle customers with one of the biggest rate increases seen in decades. The proposal, which included a near 26% increase in utility rates over the coming four years, came as PG&E customers already pay some of the highest rates in the country. But thanks to AARP’s formal participation in the case and more than 30,000 activists making their voices heard, the California Public Utilities Commission decided to adopt our more measured spending proposal on meters and pipe replacement- saving customers millions. In the end, while PG&E customers will see higher monthly bills, the rate increase was reduced from the initial proposal that called for an outrageous hike. AARP will continue to be vigilant in holding PG&E and other utilities accountable.

AARP Oklahoma Members Express Opposition To Rate Increases

In Oklahoma, we successfully defeated an initial request from the Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) that included a staggering $294 million or 10% rate increase for residential customers, reducing it to just 5%. Our formal intervention also helped lower the monthly customer charge from $20 to $17 a month, and nixed a harmful rate setting scheme that would have meant no consumer protections against future rate hikes. AARP Oklahoma is still engaged in this fight, supporting the Oklahoma Attorney Generals’ motion to further lower the residential utility rate increase decision from $5.35 to $3.57. Nearly 5,000 AARP members sent postcards with messages which were submitted into the Corporation Commission public record, sharing how PSO’s rate hike would negatively impact them.

And in Kansas, our team’s public comments, editorial and formal intervention helped to secure a significant win for consumers against the utility company, Evergy. The Kansas Corporation Commission agreed to cut the rate increase for Evergy Central customers from 9.77% to 3.54%. And, Evergy Metro consumers will actually see a 4.53% reduction in their rates after the initial order called for a near 2% increase.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in AARP’s fight for consumers on utilities. So far this year, we’ve notched more than 30 wins in 17 states, preventing utility shutoffs, expanding eligibility and funding for energy assistance programs, increasing transparency around rates and charges consumers face, and more.

In many ways, stepping up to ensure families have affordable, reliable, and safe utility services is some of our most important work. And, AARP will continue to look for future opportunities to ensure the health, financial wellbeing and overall quality of life of Americans is not jeopardized by utility companies trying to improve their bottom line on the backs of consumers.

Search AARP Blogs