PUC Approves $150,000 Settlement With Retail Supplier
Investigation Prompted When Mailer With Alleged Violations Received By PUC's Director Of Oversight
August 5, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Pennsylvania PUC approved without modification settlement between National Gas & Electric, LLC (NG&E) and the PUC's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement ('I&E') under which National Gas & Electric will pay a $120,000 civil penalty and contribute $30,000 to PPL's hardship fund to resolve alleged violations resulting from a mailer that allegedly contained confidential information of a PPL Electric Utilities ('PPL') customer, misrepresented savings with NG&E, and included outdated
information regarding PPL’s rate
National Gas & Electric has said that the information on the mailer giving rise to the alleged violations was due to a mail merge error and a delay in mailing by the company's vendor
At the time the settlement was first filed in November 2020, National Gas & Electric provided the following statement to EnergyChoiceMatters.com:
"While National Gas & Electric is naturally disappointed that our exemplary compliance record has been marred by the unfortunate mail merge error and untimely mail delivery attributed to actions of NGE’s mail house vendor for which NGE has agreed to pay a $120,000 civil penalty, NGE is pleased that this postmark campaign did enable 40 of NGE’s Pennsylvania customers to receive the targeted 25% savings (if their postcard was timely received before December 1) and 30 more customers to receive 17% savings (if their postcard was received on or after December 1) for the harsh December, January, and February 2017-2018 winter weather months, comparing the savings under each postcard receipt date scenario to the June 1-November 30, 2017 Price to Compare of PPL Electric Utilities, Inc. ('PPL').
"We are appreciative that the Pennsylvania PUC was willing to allocate $30,000 of the combined $150,000 settlement amount toward PPL’s hardship fund. During these troubled economic times in the midst of a pandemic, NGE is thankful that this agreed allocation will provide further relief to many of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable families who have been severely affected by these crises. NGE looks forward to continuing to serve Pennsylvania consumers in the brighter future ahead."
--- Statement from National Gas & Electric
The settlement states, "I&E instituted an informal investigation of NG&E based on information
referred to I&E by the Commission’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight
('OCMO'). The Director of OCMO notified I&E that he received a postcard in the mail
from NG&E that allegedly contained confidential information of a PPL Electric Utilities
('PPL') customer, misrepresented savings with NG&E, and included outdated
information regarding PPL’s rate."
The settlement states, "On December 1, 2017, Daniel Mumford, Director of OCMO, received a
postcard in the mail from NG&E."
The settlement states, "The postcard was headlined 'NOTICE OF PPL ELECTRIC RATE
INCREASE' and stated that 'PPL’s residential default electric rate increased 14%
effective June 1st 2017' and that customers could 'Save 25% compared to PPL’s higher
June-November 2017 rate[.]'"
The settlement states, "The postcard also referenced a PPL customer’s name and the last four (4)
digits of the customer’s PPL account number."
The settlement states, "Through NG&E’s responses to I&E’s Data Requests, I&E determined that
on November 22, 2017, NG&E mailed a total of 155,252 postcards to prospective
The settlement states, "Approximately 90,634 of NG&E’s prospective customers received a
postcard that contained a PPL customer’s name and the last four digits of the customer’s
PPL account number."
The settlement states, "It is estimated that approximately 2,500 of the prospective customers
received the postcard in question after PPL’s December 1, 2017 price to compare
"In response to the postcards, seventy (70) customers enrolled with NG&E," the settlement states
According to the settlement, NG&E avers that the breakdown of the seventy (70) enrollments is as
A. Forty (40) customers enrolled prior to December 1, 2017 and
received 25% savings for at least some period;
B. Five (5) customers enrolled between December 1 and December 4,
2017 and received 17% savings;
C. Thirteen (13) customers enrolled between December 5 and
December 20, 2017 and received 17% savings; and
D. Twelve (12) customers enrolled in January 2018 and received 17%
The settlement states, "On December 5, 2017, OCMO contacted NG&E regarding the postcards in
question and advised NG&E to cease sending the postcards and to review all enrollments
resulting from the inaccurate and outdated information on the postcards to ensure that its
customers clearly understood the pricing of the NG&E offer and its comparative
relationship to the June-November 2017 PPL default rate as well as to the new December
2017 default rate."
The settlement states, "In response, NG&E informed OCMO that NG&E had already ceased
mailing the postcards in question and that it had instructed its agents to point out to
customers the date range on the postcard, June-November 2017, and to inform customers
of PPL’s new December 2017 default rate of 7.463 cents and the accurate percentage of
savings to NG&E’s lowest offer, which became 17% savings instead of the 25% savings
based upon the quoted June-November 2017 PPL default rate."
The settlement states, "NG&E alleged that the printing of confidential customer information on the
postcards occurred as a result of a mail merge error on the part of the vendor that NG&E
used for printing and mailing services."
The settlement states, "NG&E also alleged that the postcards accurately represented the savings
compared to the quoted PPL price to compare from June-November 2017, but mis-stated
savings with NG&E compared to the new PPL price to compare effective December 1,
2017, and that the postcards contained outdated information about PPL’s price to
compare because the delivery schedule for the postcards was inadvertently delayed by the
same vendor. According to the Company, the delay is what caused some prospective
customers to receive the postcards after PPL’s December 1, 2017 price to compare
I&E was prepared to allege that NG&E violated provisions of
Chapter 54 of the Pennsylvania Code concerning Electricity Generation Customer
Choice, 52 Pa. Code § 54.43(d), with regard to the 90,634 postcards that contained the
confidential and personal information of a customer.
I&E was prepared to allege that NG&E violated provisions of Chapter 111 of the
Pennsylvania Code concerning the Marketing and Sales Practices for the Retail
Residential Energy Market, 52 Pa. Code § 111.12(d), with regard to the approximately
2,500 postcards that may have been received after December 1, 2017 and therefore
misrepresented savings with NG&E and/or provided inaccurate and untimely information
regarding PPL’s price to compare.
Under the settlement, NG&E shall pay a civil penalty in the amount of One Hundred and
Twenty Thousand Dollars ($120,000.00) and shall also contribute the
amount of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) into PPL’s hardship fund
As a mitigating factor to the above allegations, I&E acknowledges that
NG&E fully cooperated with I&E’s investigation. During the investigatory process,
NG&E fully complied with I&E’s requests for information and documentation and timely
provided I&E with records, correspondences, and other documents as requested by I&E, the settlement states
NG&E agreed to take or has already taken corrective action and implemented
revisions to its operating procedures which will act as safeguards against future
distribution of marketing materials that disclose confidential customer
information, misrepresent savings, and provide inaccurate and untimely
information about rates being offered.