Pennsylvania PUC Staff Seek Nearly $15 Million Civil Penalty Against Retail Supplier, License Revocation
July 14, 2014 Email This Story Copyright 2010-14 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff of the Pennsylvania PUC have filed a complaint against Hiko Energy seeking a nearly $15 million civil penalty against the supplier, as well as revocation of the supplier's license, for alleging to fail to provide certain customers with a rate below the default service Price to Compare, as was guaranteed in the customer's disclosure statement.
The PUC's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E) sought that Hiko be ordered to pay a civil penalty of $1,000 for each of 14,780 alleged violations in which a customer was charged more than the utility Price to Compare despite disclosure linage promising at least 1% savings, for a total penalty of $14.78 million.
I&E further sought that Hiko's authority to do business as an electric generation supplier in Pennsylvania be rescinded.
I&E also proposed that Hiko be ordered to provide a refund to each of the affected customer accounts, consisting of the difference between the amount each customer was billed and the minimum guaranteed discounted rate the customer was entitled to receive
I&E alleged that Hiko's disclosure statement for the affected customers informed customers that they would receive a guaranteed rate for "the first six monthly billing cycles" (the introductory period) that would be "1-7% less" than the local EDC's Price To Compare.
I&E noted that 52 Pa. Code§ 54.4(a) provides that, "EGS prices billed must reflect the marketed prices and the agreed upon prices in the disclosure statement."
I&E alleged that, "Hiko admitted in its data responses that from January 2014 through April 2014, HIKO billed a large number of customers within the service territories of Duquesne, Met-Ed, PECO, Penelec, PPL and West Penn a unit rate for electricity supply during the customers' introductory period that exceeded, and sometimes far exceeded, the discounted introductory rate that was 'guaranteed' at the time of each customer's enrollment as a HIKO supply customer."
"According to HIKO, the winter season of 2013-2014 brought unprecedented costs related to what has been generally referred to as the 'polar vortex' and, as a result, there was a period of time when HIKO's rates did not reflect the offer guaranteed in its price offering," I&E alleged.
I&E alleged that Hiko charged at least some of the affected customers rates as high as 29.9 cents per kWh.