PSC Approves Settlement Under Which Retail Supplier Will Pay $150,000 Penalty; $305,000 In Early Termination Fee Refunds
October 1, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Maryland PSC approved without modification a partial settlement among U.S. Gas & Electric, Inc. d/b/a Maryland Gas & Electric and Energy Service Providers, Inc. d/b/a Maryland Gas & Electric (together, 'MDG&E'), Staff of the Maryland Public Service Commission ('Staff'), and the Maryland Office of Peoples Counsel ('OPC') (collectively, the 'Settling Parties') under which MDG&E will pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and provide certain customer re-rates to resolve various alleged violations of retail energy marketing rules, including alleged instances of slamming and alleged deceptive practices
Specifically, the adopted settlement resolves all allegations against MDG&E raised by PSC Staff and OPC in Case 9615 except for issues related to the Maryland Telephone Solicitations Act, Md. Code § 14-2201 et seq. (Commercial Law Article) ('MTSA') which are noted below
The settlement states that, "This Settlement is not intended to be and shall not be deemed to be evidence or an admission of liability on the part of the Settling Parties, or anyone else."
"None of the provisions in this Settlement shall be considered, or shall constitute, an admission, a finding of fact, or a finding of culpability on the part of MDG&E in Case No. 9615 or in any other proceeding," the settlement states
In addition to the $150,000 civil penalty, the settlement provides that, to the extent it has not already done so, MDG&E shall re-rate the 164 customers associated with the certain complaints listed by OPC in its Sixth Set of data requests. Re-rates shall be calculated as the difference between the supply charges customers would have received under the applicable SOS or Sales Service rate and the supply charges customers did receive while served by MDG&E, less any refunds MDG&E has already provided to the customer. MDG&E estimates this re-rate figure to be approximately $10,000.
Additionally, under the settlement, MDG&E shall refund early termination fees collected from MDG&E residential customers between January 2016 and June 2019. MDG&E estimates this refund figure to be approximately $305,000.
MDG&E also agrees not to collect outstanding early termination fees billed to residential customers before the date of execution of the settlement.
The Settling Parties agree that the legal issues relating to the application of the MTSA to telephone calls placed to or from MDG&E shall be subject to further litigation
The MTSA Legal Issues are as follows:
i. Whether inbound or outbound calls placed by or to customers who have received direct mail promotional materials from MDG&E and who agreed to enroll into MDG&E’s electricity or natural gas supply service during the call, fall within the MTSA’s definition of 'telephone solicitation;'
ii. Whether MDG&E’s telephone enrollments are exempt from the MTSA,
iii. Whether MDG&E complied with the Commission’s regulations on enrolling customers by telephone pursuant to COMAR 20.53.07.08.C(4) and COMAR 20.59.07.08.C(4), if applicable.