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Texas PUC Adopts $15,000 Fine For Company It Found Acted As Aggregator Without Certification

October 11, 2017

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Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

The Public Utility Commission of Texas today adopted a final order that finds that Current Utilities, Inc. engaged in activities as an electricity aggregator without first registering with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and the PUC imposed a $15,000 administrative penalty on Current Utilities, Inc. for such behavior

In doing so, the Commission adopted the penalty amount initially proposed by Staff. As previously reported, a proposal for decision from an ALJ would have only imposed a fine of $5,000, but the Commissioners agreed with a memo from PUC Chair DeAnn Walker who set forth a case for a higher penalty.

In her memo, Walker wrote, "I would reject the proposed finding that $5,000 is an appropriate administrative penalty in this case. Weighing the factors set out in PURA § 15.023(c) and 16 Texas Admin. Code § 22.246(c)(3), I would instead impose an administrative penalty of $15,000. I find the mitigating factors relied on by the State Office of Administrative Hearings Administrative Law Judge in recommending a lower penalty amount unpersuasive. In particular, I disagree with the ALJ's contention that because Current did not believe it was acting as an aggregator, it should be subject to a lower penalty. Specifically, the record shows that Current explicitly entered into an 'Aggregator Agreement' with the retail electric provider ('REP'), whereby Current acknowledged it represented customers, would bring them to the REP, and the REP would enlist the customers through Current by virtue of its power of attorney. For Mr. [Roy] Anderson to claim that he was unaware that Current should be registered as an aggregator is disingenuous at best, particularly in light of the fact that Mr. Anderson's previous company was registered as an aggregator."

Walker further wrote in her memo, "I also disagree with the ALJ's finding that Current has no history of violations and therefore should be subject to a lower penalty. The record in this case shows that the principal of Current, Mr. Anderson, does have a history of violations with the Commission. In addition, the ALJ found that Current had a gross revenue of less than $60,000 in 2016 and that a $15,000 penalty would therefore be excessive. The PFD included a finding stating Current's gross revenue for only one year, 2016. However, that year is not representative of Current's gross revenue for the years in which the actual violations took place."

In its final order, the PUC adopted the PFD's finding that Current violated applicable statutes and rules by providing aggregation services without first registering as an aggregator with the Commission. For a discussion of how the ALJ reached this conclusion, which the PUC endorsed, see our prior story

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