Regulator Orders Retail Supplier To Send Customers Letter Comparing Supplier's Rate Vs. Utility, Info on Switching
March 10, 2016 Email This Story Copyright 2010-16 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
The Connecticut PURA, in an interim order, ordered Palmco Power CT, LLC to send to its existing customers a letter comparing the customer's current Palmco rate with the default service rate, and informing the customer how to switch.
The interim order was issued in a proceeding reviewing Palcmo's marketing practices, which is ongoing.
An order requiring the customer notice was requested by the Attorney General
Palmco had previously offered to send customers a notice informing them of their ability to return to the utility with such letter also indicating the standard service rate currently being charged by that utility.
Palmco said it had made the offer to send such letter as, "part and parcel of Palmco's efforts to resolve concerns about the Company's then-current marketing-related policies and practices through cooperative means. Palmco's intent was that the offer would afford existing customers an opportunity to make a service choice other than Palmco while the Company was engaged in implementing remedial measures and policies agreed upon by the parties in settlement or ordered as part of a PURA final determination on the record at the close of this proceeding."
Palmco objected to the an interim order requiring such relief as, "premature," stating in exceptions to a draft interim order that requiring the relief in advance of a final resolution of the matter tramples on its due process rights.
However, in the interim order, PURA said that:
"[T]he record in this proceeding shows a number of instances in which consumers:
• "May not have been informed of Palmco’s rates at the time of enrollment;
• "May have been provided inaccurate information during door-to-door and telemarketing sales transactions;
• "May have been led to believe that enrolling with Palmco would guarantee savings;
• "May have been led to believe they were dealing with Eversource or United Illuminating personnel; and,
• "May have been enrolled due to forgery. "
PURA cited a table which PURA said demonstrated that, "Palmco served approximately 2,550 customers during January 2016 and the majority paid more than twice the current Eversource or UI Standard Service generation supply rate."
According to PURA, some 500 customers were served on a rate in excess of 18¢/kWh, while another 175 were served on a rate in excess of 23¢/kWh
"The Authority determines that many customers may not be aware they have been enrolled with Palmco or of the high rates they are currently being charged. The Authority finds it to be in the public interest to require Palmco to notify its current customers and provide rate information to them," PURA said.
The customer notice letter shall state:
You are paying Palmco XX.XXX cents per kWh, compared to the [Eversource/UI] Standard Service rate of XX.XXX cents per kWh.
To demonstrate the difference, if you use 750 kWh of electricity, you will pay Palmco $XXX.XX for your generation. You will pay $XXX.XX if you are with [Eversource/UI].
You can immediately switch to the Standard Service rate by contacting [Eversource/UI] at [appropriate toll free number]. You must tell the Customer Service Representative that you want to be immediately switched to Standard Service. You can also switch to another electric supplier; however, that switch will not become effective until your next meter reading date. There is no penalty for you to switch.
The Connecticut OCC and Attorney General hailed PURA's interim decision
PALMco provided the following statement:
"PALMco is surprised and disappointed by today’s press release from the Connecticut Attorney General and Consumer Counsel (OCC) seeking to take credit for an action that was offered by PALMco nearly four months ago. As both agencies are fully aware PALMco voluntarily offered to do exactly what PURA has now ordered. To its knowledge, all of PALMco’s service offerings were lawful and condoned by the Connecticut State Legislature. If the AG and OCC want to ban third party suppliers from competing in Connecticut, they should seek a change in the law. PALMco is fully participating in the review of its practices and is prepared to make changes where needed to better serve Connecticut consumers. PALMco is a family owned and operated business committed to quality customer service and stands by our customers’ legal right to choose their source of power supply."