Texas Retail Provider To Pay $85,000 Under Settlement To Resolve Alleged Switch-Hold Violations
April 24, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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Stream SPE, Ltd. would pay $85,000 under a settlement with Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to resolve alleged violations of Texas Administrative Code (TAC) § 25.480, relating to Bill Payment and Adjustments and the alleged imposition of improper switch-holds
Stream CEO, Mark "Bouncer" Schiro, issued the following statement to EnergyChoiceMatters.com concerning the settlement:
Statement From Stream CEO, Mark "Bouncer" Schiro:
"Stream takes seriously its obligation to its customers, and the rules and regulations applicable to our business. As such, we cooperated fully with the PUC and I'm happy that we've reached a settlement that represents a compromise and conclusion related to the claims and allegations."
16 TAC § 25.480(j) defines a deferred payment plan as an agreement between a retail
electric provider (REP) and a customer that allows a customer to pay an outstanding
balance in installments that extend beyond the due date of the current bill.
16 TAC § 25.480(i) defines a payment arrangement as any agreement between the REP
and a customer that allows a customer to pay the outstanding bill after its due date, but
before the due date of the next bill.
16 TAC § 25.480(l)(1) allows a REP to place a switch-hold if a customer voluntarily enters
into a deferred payment plan.
Under 16 TAC § 25.480(l), a REP may only apply a switch-hold as permitted by a level or
alternate payment plan under 16 TAC § 25.480(h) or a deferred payment plan (DPP) under
16 TAC § 25.480(j). A REP may not apply a switch-hold for a payment arrangement as
defined in 16 TAC § 25.480(i).
The settlement states, "On October 9, 2017, Commission Staff requested a list of all customers who, at any point
since January 1, 2016, was under a switch-hold as the result of: (1) agreeing to Stream's
'50/50' plan; (2) agreeing to pay an outstanding balance before the due date of the
following bill, regardless of whether a down payment was made at the time of the
agreement or not; or (3) any deferred payment plan agreements that satisfied an outstanding
balance in less than 5 installments."
The settlement states, "Stream's response identified 3,981 accounts in which it applied switch-holds to customers
in payment terms where the last payment was due on the date of the next invoice and not
after the date of the next invoice. Of those accounts, Commission Staff requested a sample
to review detailed information."
The settlement states, "Commission Staff's analysis of the samples show that Stream initiated switch-holds on
some subset of 3,981 customer accounts where the last payment was due on the date of the
next invoice and not after the date of the next invoice between January 1, 2016 and October
9, 2017 in violation of 16 TAC § 25.480(l)."
The settlement states, "This agreement resolves all claims related to Commission Staff's investigation into
Stream's 3,981 improperly applied switch-holds placed on customer accounts between
January 1, 2016 and October 9, 2017 in violation of its obligations under §§ 17.004(a)(1),
relating to Customer Protection Standards and 39.101, relating to Customer Safeguards as
well as 16 TAC § 25.480, relating to Bill Payment and Adjustments."
As part of this settlement, Stream agrees to cease the practice of placing switch-holds on
payment terms where the last payment is due on the date of the next invoice and not after the date of the next invoice and release any customers currently under a switch-hold with
similar payment terms.