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Retail Supplier To Pay $1.25 Million In Refunds, Agrees To Three-Year Marketing Stand-Down Period In State, Under Settlement Approved By Regulator

October 22, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Illinois Commerce Commission approved a settlement among National Gas & Electric, LLC (NG&E or NGE), Staff of the ICC, the Illinois Attorney General, and the Illinois Citizens Utility Board (CUB) to resolve an ICC investigation into NG&E's "customer sales, solicitation, marketing and enrollment practices, policies, procedures and materials[.]"

In addition to a marketing stand-down period noted below and other remedial measures, NG&E under the settlement is required to pay the total sum of $1,500,000, consisting of: (1) $1,250,000 in refunds to NG&E's current and former residential customers in Illinois who were enrolled on or after February 1, 2016, and who received electric supply service from NGE for at least 150 days during the period; and (2) $250,000 to be paid to the State of Illinois and deposited into the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

National Gas & Electric provided the following statement concerning the matter:

"Over the past 18 months, NGE has worked with Illinois regulators to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. NGE entered into the settlement without admission of fault or liability, and the settlement resolves and broadly releases NGE from the allegations in the case. NGE appreciates the hard work of the ICC Staff, the Attorney General’s office, and CUB in this process.

"NGE is pleased that the settlement will benefit NGE’s electricity customers through a customer refund program, and help low income Illinois residents through funding of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program ('LHEAP'). NGE will continue to serve its Illinois electricity and natural gas customers without interruption, and remains committed to providing its customers with outstanding service. "

--- Statement from National Gas & Electric

Among other things, Staff had alleged that

• NG&E employees, agents or representatives used false, misleading, materially inaccurate and otherwise deceptive language in soliciting or providing services in that its employees, agents or representatives stated or represented to customers that their current electric supplier was no longer in business or otherwise unable to provide service to such customers, when this was not the case

• NG&E employees, agents or representatives implied or conducted themselves in a manner calculated to lead customers to believe that such NG&E employees, agents or representatives were representatives of or affiliated with a public utility, namely ComEd

• NG&E employees, agents or representatives failed to make various required disclosures in marketing

See our prior story for a full discussion of the alleged violations

A narrative describing the settlement states that, among other things, NG&E agrees to a thirty-six (36) consecutive month marketing stand-down period in Illinois

The ICC in its order adopting the settlement describes the marketing stand-down further as follows: "A voluntary thirty-six (36) consecutive month marketing stand-down period in Illinois, beginning on the date of entry of this Order, during which NGE will engage only in those solicitation, marketing, or enrollment activities specified in the Compliance Plan ('Stand Down Period')."

The settlement also includes, "Restrictions on NGE’s ability and option to re-enter into the Illinois market after the Stand Down Period for 24 months ('Reengagement Period'), with certain restrictions staggered over the Reengagement Period so as to impose additional restrictions at the start of any such market re-entry during the Reengagement Period."

The settlement also includes a prohibition on in-person solicitations at multi-unit residential dwellings.

Docket No. 18-1653

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