Retail Supplier To Pay $160,000 Forfeiture Under Settlement
September 5, 2023 Email This Story Copyright 2010-23 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
The following story is brought free of charge to readers byVertexOne, the exclusive EDI provider of EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Inspire Energy Holdings LLC ('Inspire' or 'Company') would agree to a civil forfeiture in the amount of $160,000 under a settlement with Staff of
the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to resolve an Amended Notice of Probable
Noncompliance dated January 17, 2023 ('Amended PNC Letter') issued by Staff, in which Staff alleged that Inspire was, "providing misleading or deceptive statements to customers and
charging unconscionably high rates."
Inspire provided the following statement concerning the matter:
"Inspire Clean Energy is a certified B Corp that adheres to all local and state regulatory guidelines. We are working with the Public Utility Commission of Ohio to reach a resolution in this matter. Our member support team is available to address any questions or concerns our customers may have."
--- Statement from Inspire
In the Amended PNC Letter, Staff had alleged, "For example, customers are informed of an introductory price
by Inspire’s door-to-door or in-store sales agents and that a specialized price will be sent to the
customers via email; however, the factors that would impact the future energy charge amounts were
not provided. After enrollment, the customer is notified via email/mail of the unconscionably high
subscription rate for the remainder of the enrollment period. Additionally, Inspire also notified Staff
of instances where Inspire sales representatives fraudulently enrolled customers. Other concerns
include, Inspire sales agents using misleading statements such as savings, discounts and representing
themselves as city officials."
In the Amended PNC Letter, Staff had alleged, "Inspire offers customers a low enrollment rate amount, like $59.00 a
month. The first bill is for the enrollment rate; however, subsequent bills included a supply charge
that may be as high as $699.99 a month for the term of the contract. The subscription rates Inspire
is ultimately charging the customers for the remainder of the contract term are much higher than the
introductory enrollment rate."
The stipulation states that, "Inspire is no longer marketing or enrolling Ohio consumers in any monthly
subscription rate plans with low introductory trial rates, and will not resume
marketing or enrolling Ohio consumers in any such plans without notifying
Under the stipulation, Inspire agrees to provide notice to former customers who enrolled in Inspire’s
subscription trial product and who paid a customized price while enrolled
on this product, provided, however, that Inspire shall not
be required to send notice to any former customer who: (1) completed their
initial, 12-month term; or (2) remained on the subscription trial product for
longer than 150 days.
Such notice to former customers will inform customers that, "You may be entitled to a rerate," with a rerate being a refund of the difference between the SSO rate and Inspire's rate, if the customer paid more under Inspire
The stipulation also includes language to be added to Inspire's renewal notices which states, "we are inviting you to
contact Inspire at the contact information listed below if you have any questions, complaints or concerns regarding
your prior service including how the Subscription Introductory Price and flat monthly subscription price were
marketed or communicated to you, your current supply price or the supply price offered for your Renewal Term in
this notice." This renewal notice language does not explicitly state customers may be entitled to a rerate
Any customer who
receives either notice, and who requests a rerate within 120 days of the Effective Date of the settlement, shall be provided any credits that may
"To the extent Inspire receives any future complaints or inquiries from
customers enrolled under an introductory trial rate between June 1, 2022,
and the Effective Date, Inspire shall address those complaints in a manner
that is appropriate based on the nature of the complaint and the type of
resolution preferred by the individual consumer," the stipulation states
As noted, Inspire agrees to a civil forfeiture in the amount of $160,000. Staff's Amended PNC Letter had originally sought a $165,000 forfeiture
The Stipulation states that it, "should not be construed, as an
admission of any fact, allegation, or legal conclusion asserted by Staff in
the Initial PNC Letter, the Amended PNC Letter, or otherwise in this
proceeding with regard to Ohio Consumers ('Covered Conduct')."
The stipulation states, "Inspire has fully cooperated with this proceeding and Staff’s
inquiry into the alleged violations identified in the Amended PNC Letter[.]"