PUC Issues Show Cause Order To Retail Supplier
August 5, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Maine PUC issued an order directing Town Square Energy, LLC (Town Square) to, "show cause why it should not be found to have violated Maine law and Commission rules regarding its operations as a licensed competitive electricity provider (CEP) in Maine and be subject to appropriate sanctions."
A Town Square Energy spokesperson provided the following statement concerning the matter:
"We look forward to working with the commission during this phase to show that Town Square Energy’s strict Compliance policies and procedures indeed acted in accordance with State Rules and Regulations."
--- Statement from Town Square Energy spokesperson
"[T]he Commission hereby directs Town Square to show cause why its marketing practices should not be found to have violated Maine law and Commission rules regarding its operations as a licensed CEP in Maine. Specifically, the Commission directs Town Square to show cause why its license as a CEP in Maine should not be suspended with respect to marketing to and enrolling new customers, or from re-enrolling existing customers at the end of the customer’s term of service, or otherwise be revoked," the PUC said in the order
In the order, the PUC stated, "Beginning during or about January 2019, the Commission’s Consumer Assistance and Safety Division (CASD), and in some instances Central Maine Power (CMP), began receiving complaints regarding Town Square’s marketing activities. Customers were raising concerns related to the marketing efforts of Town Square’s sales agents."
In the order, the PUC stated, "By letter dated March 17, 2020, Commission Staff notified Town Square that Staff had concerns about its sales agents’ recent door-to-door marketing and enrollment efforts, and Staff provided Town Square with a complaint record documenting issues through early 2020. Commission Staff stated the complaints were extremely serious and could lead to Staff referring the matter to the Commission for a formal proceeding to consider specific sanctions, including license suspension, license revocation, and/or monetary fines. Commission Staff requested a response, which Town Square provided in writing on March 18, 2020 and April 13, 2020 and included, in certain instances, audio of TPV calls."
In the order, the PUC stated, "The concerns noted by Commission Staff in the March 17, 2020 letter related to allegations of: (1) enrollments without authorization; (2) making false statements about cheaper rates, savings, and possible refunds; (3) claiming association with or over charging by the T&D; and (4) claiming to offer green power."
In the order, the PUC stated, "Indeed, the complaint record, together with the response from Town Square, includes customer allegations of Town Square sales agents falsely offering to eliminate charges on customers’ bills, falsely claiming to be either from or replacing the T&D, offering to lower rates and save customers money but rather raising rates and charging customers more, telling a customer what to say on a TPV call to affirm customer choice to enroll, falsely claiming that the customer’s T&D was being sued, failing to provide terms of service, falsely claiming the T&Ds were overcharging for service and a refund may be due, asserting Town Square would deliver green, clean power to a customer’s home, and making misleading statements about updating electric service as opposed to selling supply. Further, the TPV calls include instances where elderly customers have difficulty answering questions related to demonstrating affirmative choice to enroll with Town Square."
In a filing with the PUC in response to the Staff letter, Town Square said that it ceased all D2D efforts in Maine as of close of business March 17, 2020
In a filing with the PUC in response to the Staff letter, Town Square had stated, "The Public Utilities Commission ('Commission') should be reassured that Town Square treats all
consumer complaints with utmost seriousness. Town Square compliance staff have made their
compliance-focused attitude clear in several voluntary in-person meetings with Commission staff
since Town Square entered the Maine market in 2018."