Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley urged the public to use discretion when dealing with salesmen who have been spotted in the city going door to door, particularly representatives from natural gas and electric suppliers.
The city staff, he said, often get calls from the public when salesmen come knocking on their doors.
“They get calls from the public when folks are going door to door for natural gas or energy sales,” he said at a council meeting on Jan. 14.
Residents should make “apples to apples” comparisons of prices and terms of service with their utility companies and other companies wanting their business to ensure they are making the right decisions on paying the lowest prices, he said.
“Citizens have the right to do anything they want - it’s a personal decision,” he said. But residents should be sure to ask “good questions,” he added, particularly when it comes to making decisions about choosing natural gas or electric companies.
“It’s a very confusing subject for folks. The next thing they know, they’re signing up for something and they’re paying more than they intend. We just want to encourage our citizens to ask good questions and know exactly what they’re signing up for. They can do what they want. But we do get a lot of calls. It is a challenge,” he said.
Councilman Jerry Peach said he had recently learned of the natural gas salesmen in the city. He also noted that there are two men associated with the proposed gas fired electrical generating plant doing an assessment of historic architectural structures.
“They are driving around, taking pictures. This is just one of the steps that is necessary in the permitting process. If anyone [on council] is contacted by the public about a light gray Suburban driven by a couple of individuals taking pictures within a three mile radius of the plant, it’s probably those individuals,” said Peach.
Beazley said the assessment is needed to show that the plant “will not be in an inappropriate location.”
“I think they will find it will fit in well with our industrial section of Oregon,” said Beazley.
Known as the Oregon Clean Energy (OCE) project, the power plant would convert clean natural gas to electricity and will be constructed just south of the BP Husky Refinery, between Wynn and Lallendorf roads.
Councilman Sandy Bihn asked Beazley if salesmen need permits to go door to door in the city.
Beazley said they have to file applications with the city beforehand.
“And we do a record check,” said Beazley. “Before you can go door to door, we do have the authority to reject companies and individuals. We reject people with criminal records. We rejected the application of one company because we felt they were not complying with our rules. They had some problems with `after hour’ issues, the time of day they’re allowed to knock on the door, where they can go. Oregon has a fairly reasonable rule on that. It is not something we are perfect at. We can’t make many value judgments about what they’re selling. But public awareness is good.”
Peach said the requirement has been part of the city’s code for years.
“I think it’s a very valuable practice to make sure people who are coming into our community and soliciting are required to identify themselves,” he said.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, a residential utility consumer advocate, for the last few years has warned the public about signing contracts with door to door energy company marketers. The office has received many complaints from consumers who reported that their utility bills increased after signing up with door to door sales people, then having to pay early termination fees to cancel their contracts.
Information about all marketer offers and prices is available on the website of the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel at www.pickocc.org. A weekly fact sheet, “Comparing Your Energy Choices,” contains a chart listing each marketer offer submitted, as well as contract terms and contact information.