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Retail Supplier To Pay $1 Million, Permanently Exit State's Market Under Settlement

Supplier's Customers To Be Dropped To Default Service

April 8, 2022

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Discount Power, Inc. (Discount or DPI) would pay $1 million and exit the Connecticut retail electric market under a settlement with the Office of Education, Outreach, and Enforcement (EOE) of the Connecticut PURA to resolve a PURA order finding Discount had violated certain retail electric sales and marketing rules, and Discount's appeal of such order to state court

On March 9, 2022, the Authority issued a Decision holding that DPI violated Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 16-245o(h)(1 ), 16-245o(h)(2), 16-245o(h)(3), 16-245o(h)(4), 16- 245o(h)(1 0), 16-245oU) and 42-11 Ob by: 1) not properly training and monitoring its agents; 2) implying marketing calls were from the electric distribution company; 3) not clearly explaining the purpose of the solicitation and by using the undefined terms "price protection" and "benefits"; 4) failing to correctly explain rates; 5) failing to state and misrepresenting the standard service rate; 6) implying a customer must choose a supplier; 7) conducting improper TPVs; and 8) employing unfair and deceptive marketing, including but not limited to the violations listed above .

The March Decision fined DPI two million dollars ($2,000,000), suspended DPI's electric supplier license for three years, and ordered it to pay restitution to all customers enrolled in 2018 and 2019 for all amounts they paid greater than standard service

The Decision resulted from an earlier Notice of Violation issued against DPI. See background and more details on the violations alleged in the original NOV here

DPI appealed the March Decision to state court

The settlement would resolve the Decision and appeal

Under the settlement, DPI agrees to pay $1 million to the electric distribution companies (Eversource Energy and The United Illuminating Company, together, the EDCs) to reduce hardship arrearages. DPI shall divide the payment as 80% to Eversource Energy and 20% to The United Illuminating Company

Under the settlement, DPI shall voluntarily and permanently withdraw from the Connecticut electric supplier market.

"This voluntary withdrawal will prevent DPI from serving any Connecticut customers and from marketing to any Connecticut customers other than to continue serving its existing customers until those customers are successfully transferred to standard service," the settlement states

On or before five (5) days after the date of an order approving the settlement, DPI will submit an electronic data interchange (EDI) request to the Connecticut electric distribution companies requesting that every one of DPI's Connecticut customers be transitioned to standard service as of the next meter read date/billing cycle.

As of the March 2022 EDC migration data, Discount Power was serving nearly 5,600 customers in Connecticut, the vast majority of which are residential customers

Following surrender of its license, and satisfaction of DPI's assessment and RPS obligations in Docket Nos. 22-06-01 and 23-06-01, the settlement provides that PURA will return DPI's $250,000 security deposit within ten (10) days of either a final decision in Docket No. 23-06-01 demonstrating DPI's compliance with RPS or a compliance filing in Docket No. 23-06-01 demonstrating DPI made a full alternative compliance payment, or demonstration of compliance with all outstanding assessments, whichever is later

The Settlement Agreement does not represent an admission or concession by the Parties as to the claims, or facts or circumstances surrounding the claims, or proper disposition of any issue related to the NOV, the Decision, the Appeal, or this Settlement Agreement

The settlement remains subject to PURA approval

The state's Attorney General as well as the Office of Consumer Counsel oppose the settlement due to the lack of restitution to customers

In a filing, the AG stated, "although the Attorney General participated throughout this proceeding, and publicly supported the March 9, 2022 NOV, the Attorney General was not consulted or asked to participate in the discussions leading to the proposed settlement. If the Attorney General had been consulted, he would have expressed confidence in the PURA’s March 9, 2022 NOV currently on appeal. The Attorney General would further note that all of the statutory and regulatory violations enumerated in the March 9, 2022 NOV also constitute violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, General Statutes § 41-110g, et seq. ('CUTPA'), under which the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Consumer Protection can pursue full restitution for Discount’s customers. The Attorney General would not join in any settlement that would preclude his abilities to pursue such restitution."

Docket No. 08-09-14RE02

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