Regulator's Staff Seeks Restitution, From Retail Supplier, For Supplier's Customers Dropped To Default Service Who Were Paying Rates Lower Than SOS
February 7, 2022 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Office of Education, Outreach, and Enforcement (EOE) of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (Authority or PURA) sought that PURA issue a Notice of Violation and Assessment of Civil Penalty (NOV) against Sunwave Gas & Power CT, Inc. (Sunwave or Company), and sought an order that would require Sunwave to pay restitution to all customers returned to standard service whose contracts were for rates less than standard service
To the extent PURA were to issue an NOV, Sunwave would have the right to contest the NOV via hearing
EOE alleged, "On January 25, 2022, the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE) submitted a correspondence to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stating, 'Pursuant to Section 2.3 of the ISO New England Information Policy, ISO New England Inc. hereby provides to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notice that Sunwave USA Holdings Inc. was suspended from the New England Markets on January 21, 2022 at 8:30 a.m.' On February 2, 2022, the electric distribution companies (EDCs) filed a notice in the present docket indicating they had returned all Sunwave customers to standard service, 'As Sunwave was not permitted to have any load assets effective January 26, 2022.' February 2, 2022 Correspondence Public Notice to PURA re: Sunwave."
In the draft NOV, EOE alleged, "The Authority has reason to believe that as of the date of the EDCs’ filing, Sunwave had failed to notify the Authority of its ISO-NE suspension, had failed to notify its customers in advance of their return to standard service, and had failed to request the EDCs return its customers to standard service due to its inability to continue to serve Connecticut customers. The Authority has further reason to believe Sunwave did not submit electronic drop transactions to the EDCs to return its customers to standard service, but instead relied upon the EDCs to recognize the need and perform that task for Sunwave. It is concerning if, with knowledge that it could no longer legally serve customers, Sunwave did nothing to prevent itself from continuing to serve customers and forced the EDCs to ensure its legal compliance."
In the draft NOV, EOE alleged, "The evidence also indicates that after its ISO-NE suspension, Sunwave did not remove its offerings from energizect.com until questioned by the Authority’s Office of Education, Outreach, and Enforcement (EOE). EOE filed questions to Sunwave at 9:45 a.m. on January 31, 2022 inquiring regarding Sunwave’s status and why it continued to post to energizect.com. Sunwave removed its offers at 12:02 p.m. on January 31, 2022. It is equally concerning if a supplier unable to transact business in Connecticut continues to enroll or present itself as able to enroll customers."
In the draft NOV, EOE alleged, "The Authority has reason to believe that Sunwave was aware its standing with ISO-NE was in jeopardy and neither resolved the issue nor informed the Authority of it. Further, with knowledge it could no longer legally serve customers, Sunwave then failed to act appropriately to notify the Authority or its customers and failed to act to return its customers to standard service. Based on Sunwave’s actions, the Authority has reason to believe Sunwave did not make a good faith effort to achieve compliance and did not demonstrate managerial capability, in both allowing itself to be suspended by ISO-NE and in how it addressed the issue thereafter."
In the draft NOV, EOE alleged, "Sunwave’s suspension by ISO-NE and its failure to provide its customers proper notice of their return to standard service has and will harm many of Sunwave’s customers. A review of the most recent price filings submitted in Docket No. 06-10-22 shows that in the Eversource territory, 2309 of 2315 Sunwave residential customers were contracted at rates less than standard service, many over four cents less. Of the 581 Eversource business customers contracted with Sunwave, 369 were paying less than standard service. The same can be found in UI territory: of 607 residential customers, 518 were being served by rates less than standard service; and of 314 business customers, 226 were being served by rates less than standard service. Sunwave’s abrupt exit from the market, failure to meet its licensing requirements, and failure to properly notify customers will cause these customers substantial monetary harm. Many of Sunwave’s rates ranged between 7 and 9 cents per kWh. A review of energizect.com shows that suppliers currently are not offering rates in that price range. Without sufficient notice or the ability to find a comparable rate, customers will suffer financial harm."
In the draft NOV, EOE alleged, "The Authority has further reason to believe the Right to Cancel provision in Sunwave’s residential contracts does not apply to the reason Sunwave stated in its notice for returning customers to standard service."
EOE proposed that Sunwave shall compensate all residential customers whose contracts were for less than the current standard service rate $20 for each month remaining on their contracts (e.g., if a customer has 10 months remaining on their contract, Sunwave will provide them restitution of $200), and shall compensate all business/commercial/industrial customers whose contracts were for less than the current standard service rate $40 for each month remaining on their contract.
EOE also proposed that Sunwave’s electric supplier license be suspended for five years