Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pa. files complaints against electricity suppliers for excessive rates

Pennsylvania filed complaints against five out-of-state electric generation suppliers before the state Public Utility Commission after some consumers complained that their electricity costs increased by as much as 300 percent, the state Attorney General's Office said Friday.

The complaints, filed jointly by the state Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Office of Consumer Advocate, ask the PUC to suspend or revoke licenses and impose civil penalties, restitution, and other charges on Energy Services Providers Inc., which does business as Pennsylvania Gas & Electric; IDT Energy Inc.; Respond Power L.L.C.; Hiko Energy L.L.C.; and Blue Pilot Energy L.L.C.

"We received thousands of complaints from consumers who could not pay their excessively high bills. Those consumers were deceived and we are taking those who participated in the deception to task," Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said in a statement.

The complaints allege that the suppliers promised consumers low or "competitive" rates if they switched electricity suppliers. The actions also allege that prices charged to customers were not reflective of the cost to serve residential electricity needs, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Between late February and mid-June, the Attorney General's Office said it received about 42,600 telephone calls and 7,550 consumer complaints about electricity spikes. During that same time period, the consumer advocates office received more than 3,000 contacts from consumers.

The suppliers are accused of multiple violations of the PUC's orders and regulations, the Public Utility Code, the Consumer Protection Law and the Telemarketer Registration Act, Kane's office said. The Bureau of Consumer Protection said it found that many consumers complained their electricity supplier was switched without their consent. Unauthorized switching is considered illegal "slamming."


Stephanie Ritenbaugh Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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