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PSC Launching "Maximum Enforcement" Against Retail Suppliers In New Blitz

PSC Chair: Feels Like "Emptying A Cesspool With A Teaspoon"

January 25, 2023

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Maryland PSC Chairman Jason M. Stanek announced that the PSC will commence a "maximum enforcement" period against retail energy suppliers, commencing February 1, for a period of no less than 6 months

Stanek said that the PSC will dedicate the necessary resources to investigate and prosecute retail suppliers

Stanek noted that, when he arrived at the Commission in 2018, he was one of the strongest supporters of retail choice in Maryland, but after years of experience, Stanek is now, "agnostic on retail choice"

Stanek noted formal actions taken by the PSC against half a dozen suppliers in recent years, stating that he had been hopeful that such actions would serve as a deterrent and lead to an abatement in complaints

"That does not hold true today," Stanek said

While supplier complaints had slowed due to COVID restrictions, Stanek cited a spike in complaints in second half of last year

"I see a story here, and the story is not good," Stanek said

Stanek cited public PSC complaint data posted here

Stanek cited "disappointing" complaint numbers, and in particular, cited repeat offenders who, "may not have gotten the message".

Stanek said that one of the most frequently violated rules is the PSC's regulations concern the required rate change notices

Stanek further said that there are "not many success stories" when it comes to variable rates

"Sometimes it feels like I'm emptying a cesspool with a teaspoon," Stanek said of the current market

Stanek did not wish to paint with a broad brush, but said that bad apples are "ruining it" for reputable suppliers

Stanek noted that he has asked suppliers to "drop a dime" on competitors

Commissioner Michael T. Richard supported everything Stanek said and added that "gouging" or deceit is unacceptable.

The PSC's other commissioners similarly expressed concerns about retail choice. Commissioner Odogwu Obi Linton suggested that the Commission could take further action to protect customers, but did not propose any specific measures. Linton did make note of the PSC's most recent customer protection rulemaking (almost 10 years ago), and suggested that suppliers may have adapted to such measures and are getting around such intended protections


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