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Utility Alleges Company Is Engaged In Competitive Retail Electric Service Without License

Asks That Any Contracts With Customers Be Rescinded

Seeks To Ban Company From Market

April 16, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Ohio Power Company ("AEP Ohio" or the "Company") filed a complaint against Energy Advisors ("Respondent") alleging that Energy Advisors, "is not certified as an 'electric services company' under R.C. 4928.01, but it engages in activities that include arranging for the supply of competitive retail electric generation service to customers in Ohio."

AEP Ohio alleged that, "Upon information and belief, 'Energy Advisors' is not certified by the Commission to provide CRES [competitive retail electric service] to customers in Ohio."

AEP Ohio alleged that Energy Advisors' webpage states, "[Energy Advisors'] proprietary software allows all of [Energy Advisors'] licensed suppliers to view [customers'] usage factors and submit a bid in [Energy Advisors'] 'Live Energy Auction'***."

AEP Ohio alleged that Energy Advisors' webpage states that, "[t]he thousands of customers that have chosen energy advisors have allowed [Energy Advisors] to build relationships with every licensed supplier which of course allows [Energy Advisors] access to the best possible electricity and natural gas rates."

AEP Ohio alleged, "Upon information and belief, after a customer responds to an Energy Advisors' solicitation or requests a quote on Energy Advisors' webpage, Energy Advisors facilitates a contract between the customer and the 'licensed suppliers' on whose behalf Energy Advisors is acting, if any. The 'licensed providers' on Energy Advisors' webpage appears to be a reference to unidentified CRES providers."

AEP Ohio alleged that, "On or about March 14,2019, AEP Ohio received a copy of a solicitation that Energy Advisors sent to multiple AEP Ohio customers."

AEP Ohio alleged that, "The solicitation falsely claims that AEP Ohio customers' 'electric rates' are increasing by over 45% as compared to their current per-kWh rate. In reality, the price-to-compare for AEP Ohio's commercial and industrial customer classes reflects a decrease in rates beginning in March 2019."

"By including a false assertion in the Energy Advisors solicitation, Respondents have violated Ohio Adm. Code 4901:1-21-05(C)(8)(a), which prohibits claiming that a specific price advantage, savings, or guarantee exists if it does not," AEP Ohio alleged

AEP Ohio alleged that, "Energy Advisors' solicitation states that customers can call Energy Advisors to lock in a lower rate that 'will not change.'"

AEP Ohio alleged that, "The solicitation also prominently features the AEP Ohio name and corporate logo. However, it does not inform customers that Energy Advisors is in no way affiliated with AEP Ohio and is not soliciting customers on behalf of or with the permission of the Company. The solicitation also omits Energy Advisors' logo and contact information, other than a telephone number to call to request a quote."

AEP Ohio alleged that, "Respondents have represented that Energy Advisors is soliciting on behalf of AEP Ohio by using the Company's logo is a violation of Ohio Adm. Code 4901:1-21-05(C)(10), which prohibits engaging in any solicitation that will lead customers to believe that the CRES provider is soliciting on behalf of or is an agent of any entity other than the CRES provider."

AEP Ohio alleged that, "Respondent Energy Advisors is an 'electric services company' under R.C. 4928.01 and, therefore, must be certified by the Commission prior to soliciting AEP Ohio customers on behalf of CRES providers. Energy Advisors is arranging for the supply of competitive retail electric generation service without certification from the Commission, which is a violation of R.C. 4928.08(B)."

Among other things, AEP Ohio requested that PUCO, "Rescind, pursuant to Ohio Adm. Code 4901:1-21-15(A)(3), any contract between any AEP Ohio customer and any CRES provider that was secured by Respondents through this, or any other improper solicitation."

AEP Ohio requested that PUCO, "Permanently ban Energy Advisors from providing CRES to customers in Ohio."

AEP Ohio also requested that PUCO assess on Energy Advisors a civil penalty in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation per day

Case No. 19-872-EL-CSS

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