PSC Launches Compliance And Enforcement Unit, Chair Notes "Uptick" In Complaints
PSC Will Conduct "On-The-Spot" Investigations, Audits
February 12, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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"In an effort to strengthen protections for energy consumers, the Maryland Public Service Commission has established a Compliance and Enforcement Unit within its Consumer Affairs Division (CAD)," the Maryland PSC announced
"The new unit will be dedicated to more proactive oversight of utilities and third-party energy suppliers to ensure compliance with the Commission’s regulations. Among its enforcement responsibilities, the unit will identify and track violation patterns, monitor supplier marketing practices in the field, conduct on-the-spot investigations and compliance audits, and provide retail supplier training. The unit will also work to support customer education regarding utility and energy supplier practices and other issues involving billing, service quality, fees, and contract terms," the PSC said
Last year CAD investigated nearly 2,700 complaints against electric, gas, telecommunications and water utilities and energy suppliers. Among the goals of the new unit is the faster resolution of complaints filed by utility customers.
"The Commission takes its oversight of utilities and retail suppliers very seriously," said Commission Chairman Jason M. Stanek. "We have made it a priority to ensure that customer rights are protected and that utility companies and suppliers are in full compliance with the Commission’s regulations and Maryland law."
Stanek at the PSC's meeting today, in noting the announcement, cited an 'uptick' in retail supplier complaints, citing complaints regarding bait & switch and spoofing
"In recent months, the Commission has increased its enforcement and oversight of retail energy suppliers, including taking action against a natural gas supplier (SmartOne Energy) for enrolling customers without their consent—a practice known as 'slamming.' The Commission revoked SmartOne’s license to do business in Maryland and levied a record $561,000 civil penalty. Four other complaint proceedings involving energy suppliers are currently in litigation before the Commission’s Public Utility Law Judge Division," the PSC noted
In addition, as previously reported, the Commission has begun posting energy supplier complaint data on its website.