Daily Email







PSC Orders That All Of Retail Supplier's Customers Be Dropped To Default Service

Suspends Retail Supplier's License, Issues Fine Of $561,000

August 3, 2019

Email This Story
Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

The following story is brought free of charge to readers by EC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of

The Maryland PSC has ordered that all of the customers of Smart One Energy, LLC (SOE) shall be returned to default service

The PSC also suspended SOE's license and imposed a fine of $561,000

The PSC's actions arise from violations with respect to three specific customers, namely, not having a signed contract (wet signature) from the customer for customers enrolled telephonically, for transactions which were not exempt from the Maryland Telephone Solicitation Act's wet signature requirement (see's prior story for requirements under the Maryland Telephone Solicitation Act). However, the telephonic enrollment issue extends to all of SOE's customers in Maryland, though such additional violations were not before the PSC in the instant case had exclusively reported the PSC's prior directive to the supplier to not enroll any more customers while the complaint case was pending, as Commissioners at a July 17 hearing said that SOE's actions have likely "set back progress" of retail competition, and that it marked a "sad day" for retail choice (see our story here for more on the hearing)

The PSC has now issued an order in the proceeding, following the hearing, requiring that all of SOE's customers be returned to default service

The PSC noted in an order that it was stated at a recent hearing that Smart One Energy has over 10,000 customers in Maryland.

Citing a recent hearing, the PSC said, "counsel for SOE admitted that SOE had committed the violations alleged by Staff, including: (1) failure to obtain a signed, written contract from any customer in violation of COMAR; (2) failure to send each customer a contract summary in violation of COMAR; and (3) engaging in deceptive telephone solicitations -- for two customers -- and failure to retain recorded telephone solicitations for the third customer."

The PSC said in its order that, "SOE has admitted to three distinct types of violations for each of the three customers (i.e., enrolling the customer without a signed contract, failing to provide a contract summary, and engaging in deceptive solicitations). Further, SOE has also admitted that it continued to supply natural gas to the three customers without a signed written contract for, respectively, 124, 296, and 121 days, or a total of 541 days."

"After review of the evidence and argument presented, the Commission finds just cause to impose a civil penalty for SOE’s failure to both obtain a signed contract and to provide a contract summary to the three identified customers. In determining the penalty amount, the Commission finds that SOE enrolled and then continued to serve and bill those three customers without a valid contract for 541 days in total. Due to the serious nature of these violations and SOE’s blatant disregard for the State’s laws and regulations, the Commission finds that, pursuant to its discretionary authority under PUA § 7-507(l), a civil penalty in the amount of $1,000 per violation is appropriate. This results in an initial penalty of $541,000," the PSC said

"The Commission also finds that the audio recordings of customer solicitations produced by SOE establish that SOE, through multiple sales personnel, made deceptive marketing statements to the customers in question in violation of PUA § 7-507(k)(iv). As noted above, SOE has admitted to these violations. The numerous deceptive tactics and misleading statements captured in those recordings provide just cause to impose an additional civil penalty of $10,000 for each of the two customers in question, resulting in a total penalty of $561,000," the PSC said

"The Commission finds that the circumstances that led to the violations in question were not the result of an isolated mistake or misunderstanding of the law, but were part of an unlawful scheme by SOE to scam three utility customers in Maryland. In addition, SOE has admitted that none of its customers in Maryland, past or present, were provided a written contract, which is a direct contravention of Maryland law. Based on the findings in this order and the admissions of SOE, the Commission finds ample and just cause to suspend SOE’s license to supply natural gas and natural gas services in Maryland," the PSC said

"Further, as noted above, because SOE has admitted that it does not have signed written contracts for any of its current customers, in violation of COMAR and the Maryland Telephone Solicitation Act, none of the enrollments for its existing customers are valid. Given the scale and scope of the admitted violations, the Commission finds more than sufficient cause to order that SOE cease serving customers in Maryland, pursuant to PUA § 7-507(n). Consequently, all of SOE’s existing customers shall be returned by their respective utilities to default service for natural gas supply. This order shall have the effect of a drop transaction, and the utilities are requested to process those transactions as provided by COMAR," the PSC said

"In their July 31 filings, the parties proposed multiple models for the provision of refunds to SOE’s current and former customers. The Commission will address the question of refunds generally in a subsequent order," the PSC said

"SOE shall, however, subject to any refunds already paid, refund to each of the three customers identified in Staff’s Complaint any amount it charged those customers above the applicable utility default service rates, calculated as a net difference over the period those customers were receiving supply from SOE," the PSC said

"Maryland is committed to a thriving, competitive energy marketplace because customers stand to benefit from potentially lower rates, renewable and innovative energy products and promotional incentives," said Jason M. Stanek, Chairman of the Commission. "However, we are very concerned about the practices of a few retail suppliers, whose actions can harm customers and retail competition in Maryland. The Commission’s oversight will remain vigilant and it will take action if our rules to protect customers are not followed," said PSC Chairman Jason M. Stanek

Case 9716

NEW Jobs on
NEW! -- Corporate Counsel - Retail Supplier
NEW! -- Senior Counsel - Regulatory - Retail Supplier
NEW! -- Sales Representative -- Retail Supplier
NEW! -- Energy Contracts Counsel -- Retail Supplier
NEW! -- Senior Natural Gas Energy Trader -- Retail Supplier
Operations Manager -- Retail Supplier
Quality Assurance and Customer Service Manager -- Retail Supplier

Email This Story


Copyright 2010-16 Energy Choice Matters.  If you wish to share this story, please email or post the website link; unauthorized copying, retransmission, or republication prohibited.



Daily Email