New York PSC Revokes ESCO's Eligibility, Orders That Customers Be Returned To Default Service
October 20, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The New York PSC revoked the eligibility of Flanders Energy LLC to serve energy customers in New York State as an ESCO, as the PSC found that the company did not comply with a prior suspension order. The PSC ordered that Flanders return its customers to default utility supply service
As of early 2018, when Flanders was required by the PSC to send each of its customers a notification stating that their account may not have been enrolled in accordance with PSC rules, Flanders was serving 7,138 customers, and the company has not been active in acquiring new customers since that time
In its new revocation order, the PSC said, "In this Order, the Commission finds Flanders to have violated the Suspension Order and the UBP, and the Commission finds that the proper penalty is revocation of Flanders Energy LLC’s eligibility to serve energy customers in New York State."
As previously reported, on March 16, 2018, the Public Service Commission (Commission) issued an order suspending the ability of Flanders Energy to market to and enroll new residential and non-residential customers (Suspension Order) (Flanders or the Company) for failure to properly market to and enroll customers in accordance with the Uniform Business Practices (UBP).
The PSC said that Ordering Clause 3 of the 2018 Suspension Order ordered Flanders, "to refund any overcharges, in full to each customer that Flanders Energy LLC enrolled without proper authorization, in accordance with UBP §5.K.2 and to provide the refund calculations and verification that the refund occurred to Staff within 90 days of this Order for existing slamming claims and within 30 days of the date of the slamming claim for claims received after the date of this Order."
Citing reports made by Flanders to the PSC concerning complaints, the PSC said, "when Flanders has received a complaint alleging slamming, the Company does not consistently provide documentation, such as UBP compliant contracts or TPVs to refute slamming claims made by customers."
"Furthermore, when the Company is not able to refute a slamming claim with evidence of a proper enrollment, the Company is non-compliant with the directive in the 2018 Suspension Order which requires Flanders to refund the customer and provide proof of that refund to Staff. Only when a customer is unsatisfied with the Company’s response and specifically requests a refund, does the Company provide overcharge calculations and proof of a refund," the PSC said
The PSC said that Flanders has not complied with specific detailed reporting requirements under the suspension order
"Since the 2018 Suspension Order was issued, Flanders has continued to receive complaints alleging slamming and/or questionable marketing practices. In response to these complaints, Flanders has been inconsistent with providing the information required by the Commission," the PSC said
Specifically, the PSC said that Flanders’ responses have generally not addressed several of the details required of Flanders by the Commission when responding to complaints, including: (1) a detailed summary of the allegation made; (2) a detailed summary of the investigatory steps Flanders took in response to each complaint; (3) a copy of the signed contract or sales agreement affected by or resulting from the complaint; (4) a copy of the TPV of the customer’s agreement to select Flanders as his or her ESCO, where a TPV is required for enrollment; (5) a copy of the sales recording, if available; and (6) copies of all electronic correspondence, if the customer enrolled electronically.
"Based on the proof properly before us, we conclude that Flanders has failed to act in compliance with the 2018 Suspension Order’s directives. The Commission further concludes that credible proof establishes that Flanders, on numerous occasions, failed to comply with binding consumer protection provisions," the PSC said
"Flanders has shown a pattern of persistent disregard for the Commission’s consumer protections in the retail market. The company appears either unwilling or unable to observe the UBP required business practices, even after having its eligibility to market to and enroll residential and non-residential customers revoked. Staff also finds that Flanders has not seriously engaged in reform efforts intended to promote recognizing and respecting consumers’ rights," the PSC said
"With this in mind and given that this is Flanders’ third time before the Commission for having violated various required business practices and rules designed to protect consumers, the Commission revokes Flanders’ eligibility to operate in New York State. Flanders shall return its customers to full utility service within 60 days of the effective date of this Order. These transfers shall occur on the customers' regularly scheduled meter reading dates. This Order shall serve as a substitute for any notice required by Flanders pursuant to UBP §5.H," the PSC said