Energy bills are intentionally deceptive in Washington
September 28, 2023

Energy bills are intentionally deceptive in Washington

When the cap-and-trade gas tax was passed, Gov. Jay Inslee said Washingtonians wouldn’t feel a price increase, despite widespread predictions to the contrary. Of course, those predictions turned out to be correct. This tax is not just raising the price of filing our gas tanks, it is also making home energy more expensive. 

But Gov. Inslee doesn’t want you to know that, and they’re working hard to ensure the utility companies don’t tell you. 

In August, the Utilities Transportation Commission (UTC) – whose three members are appointed by Gov. Inslee – approved a request from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to increase customer bills by 3% explicitly to cover what “PSE needs to comply with the Cap and Invest Program.” 

With energy prices already increasing, PSE knew that customers were likely to be concerned about this additional increase, so they requested that an explantation be added to bills stating that this was the impact from the “Cap and Invest Program.” The UTC rejected this request saying it would be “confusing” to customers, a decision that was recommended by the Washington Attorney General’s office. 

However, the UTC added a different explanation that gave them credit for a savings that put them in a positive light. Low-income families will see a line item for a “carbon reduction credit,” which essentially negates the 3 percent surcharge. This means such customers will receive energy bills making it seem as though the program is leading to cheaper energy – because they’re only allowed to see half the story. That seems far more confusing than telling them the whole truth. 

Todd Myers, Director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center, called UTC’s ruling “one of the most brazenly dishonest decisions I’ve ever seen.” He went on to say, “The position of the Public Counsel in the Attorney General’s office is that they know what the public should know and what they shouldn’t. The claim that transparency is bad for the public is remarkable and revealing.”

It is certainly revealing the state claims the people should be kept in the dark when policies cost them money but be informed when something negates that cost so they may be tricked into thinking they are saving money. It’s unlikely the UTC and attorney general truly thought consumers would be confused by their bill. It’s far more likely they wanted to confuse the public by only giving them half the facts. 

Washingtonians deserve the full truth. 

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!