PUC Approves Settlement Under Which Retail Supplier Agrees To $100,000 Forfeiture
July 1, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted without modification a stipulation between Provision Power and Gas, LLC d/b/a Quake Energy and PUCO Staff under which Provision Power and Gas has agreed to a forfeiture of $100,000 to resolve alleged violations contained in a Notice of Probable Non-Compliance dated January 13, 2020
As previously reported, in a January 13, 2020 notice letter, Staff had alleged, "In response to complaints to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ('PUCO') by customers disputing their enrollment with Quake Energy, Staff reviewed call center contacts and investigation records from June 2019 to November 2019. After reviewing sales calls, third-party verification (TPV) recordings, and responses from Quake Energy, Staff determined that Quake Energy is contacting customers through telemarketing Robocalls and misleading customers during the sales call and enrollment process. During the investigation, Staff identified numerous calls where customers were misinformed and provided information that was not compliant with the Ohio Adm.Code. Issues include the following: not providing proper rate information, not providing cancelation contact information for the supplier, requesting utility account information without making an offer for service, and promising potential customers discounts on their current utility bills. During the investigation, several customers clarified that sales agents representing Quake Energy failed to inform them that they were being offered a variable rate, when in actuality these were only introductory rates that increased after the first month."
Under the settlement, in addition to the forfeiture, Provision agrees to re-rate all customers that have filed a complaint with the Commission regarding alleged misleading marketing or enrollment practices if the enrollment occurred from May 1, 2019 until April 1, 2020, provided that the customers have not been re-rated previously or that re-rating will not cause the customer to be charged more for their service.
The stipulation noted that, within approximately three days of the Staff notice, Provision voluntarily ceased all telemarketing and enrollment activities until the matter was resolved
The stipulating parties agreed that Provision may re-start its marketing activities and solicitation of customers on June 1, 2020, in accordance with any restrictions ordered by the Commission due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provision also agreed to develop a compliance plan and agreed to monitor third-party vendors under the settlement
The stipulating parties agree that the settlement is to be used for settlement purposes only and is not an admission of guilt of non-compliance or violation of law or the Commission’s rules, and cannot be used against Provision in the future as such.
Staff's January 13 Notice of Probable Non-Compliance had originally proposed a forfeiture of $140,000