PSC Vacates Prior Order Which Had Closed Staff Complaint Against Retail Supplier; Expands Scope Of Inquiry
October 2, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Maryland PSC, on rehearing, has vacated a July order (Order #89193) which had originally closed, without the Commission taking further action, a proceeding addressing a complaint filed by Staff of the PSC against Atlantic Energy MD LLC
In vacating the order, the PSC also expanded the scope of the case to address allegations raised by the Office of People's Counsel which were not included in the Staff complaint
The PSC, in summarizing Atlantic Energy's answer to the complaint, had previously said that, "The Company’s Answer and Response explained, among other things, its business and products offered; its policies and procedures for handling agent training, enrollments, complaints, and refunds; and its understanding of the 32 customer complaints identified in Staff’s Complaint. The Company noted that 'The majority of the complaints related to delays in processing customer natural gas enrollment cancellations that were caused by an Electric Data Interchange ('EDI') issue between Atlantic’s EDI vendor and the utility (BGE), and which was corrected before the Complaint in this matter was filed,' and it supplied signed contracts and TPV call recordings for customers alleging unauthorized enrollments."
As first reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com, in Order #89193 issued in July 2019, the PSC had originally closed the investigation without taking further action. "After reviewing the evidence before it, the Commission finds that there is insufficient evidence that the Company has engaged in a pattern or practice of systemic violations of the Public Utilities Article or Commission regulations. Accordingly, the Commission finds that no further action is required with regard to this matter," the PSC had said in July 2019 in dismissing the Staff complaint
OPC sought rehearing of the PSC's order dismissing the complaint, arguing that the PSC failed to consider other alleged violations
OPC alleged that, "The Services Contract provided by the Company to OPC fails to comply with the Maryland
Door to Door Sales Act, Md. Ann. Code §14-301 et seq. Specifically, the Company is in violation
of Md. Ann. Code §14-302(1)(ii), since it does not contain the required language regarding a
consumer’s right to cancel the contract."
"Assuming, arguendo, that the Company’s statement that this contract form is the one used for all its residential customers, the failure to provide this notice to is a violation of Maryland law for all 6,500 residential customers in Maryland. This glaring omission is a clear violation of Maryland law, and may have deprived customers of a meaningful opportunity to terminate their variable rate agreement with Atlantic, should they have so chosen," OPC alleged
OPC also alleged that, "OPC has identified several deficiencies in the Company’s
Answer with regards to unauthorized enrollment, as the Company cannot produce signed contracts
for at least three customers who submitted complaints to the Commission."
OPC also alleged that, based on the response to a Public Information Act request submitted to the Commission, OPC, "is aware of eighty additional CAD complaints alleging misconduct on the part of the Company since 2017, including but not limited to: 38 complaints alleging unauthorized enrollment; 37 complaints alleging misrepresentations; [and] 24 complaints alleging delayed cancellation."
On rehearing, the PSC said that, "The Commission finds that OPC’s Motion for Rehearing has raised new allegations
of facts and circumstances related to but not originally part of Staff’s Complaint, including
issues only identified by OPC through discovery after the filing of the Complaint."
harm to Atlantic by granting OPC’s Motion is outweighed by the need to investigate the
alleged consumer protection violations. OPC’s Motion for Rehearing is therefore granted," the PSC said
The Commission vacated Order No. 89193, docketed a proceeding for a hearing on Staff’s
Complaint, and delegated the matter to the Public Utility Law Judge Division.
"The Commission also directs that the scope of the proceeding be expanded to incorporate the
additional claims identified in OPC’s Motion and listed above," the PSC said