PUC Approves $100,000 Settlement With Retail Supplier
PUC Commissioner Says Lack Of Quality Assurance By Suppliers May Be Inferred As Speaking To Supplier's Technical Competence (Or Lack Thereof) For Continued Licensure
March 24, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted without modification a stipulation between Reliant Energy Northeast LLC d/b/a NRG Business, NRG Home and NRG Retail Solutions ('NRG' or 'Company') and PUCO Staff under which NRG has agreed to a forfeiture of $100,000 to resolve all of the issues identified by Staff in a Notice of Probable Non-Compliance dated November 27, 2019 ('Notice Letter' or 'Notice'), which largely addressed alleged enrollment violations
NRG provided the following statement concerning the matter:
"NRG is committed to complying with all PUCO rules and regulations. NRG has implemented significant improvements since 2019 that were presented to PUCO staff to reinforce our commitment and to demonstrate our best-in-class quality assurance program and customer experience. We are glad to have this matter behind us and look forward to serving our Ohio customers.”
--- Statement from NRG
As previously reported, the Staff Notice had alleged that, "Not all customers are knowingly enrolling with NRG. Multiple customers have stated that they agreed to receive additional information from NRG or answered questions from a representative and then declined to enroll. Later, customers received a rescission notice from their utility in the mail or discovered NRG appearing on their utility bill ... Staff also determined that the signatures captured electronically are copied or transferred onto another document. This indicates to Staff that the customer did not read and sign all documents required to complete the enrollment."
The stipulation is not an admission or a finding of liability. The settlement states that NRG’s position is that the records and data do not indicate a pattern of noncompliant behavior, a trend, or a developing issue.
During today's PUCO meeting in which the stipulation was approved, Commissioner Lawrence Friedeman offered a few general remarks which were "germane but not specific to this particular docket matter."
Friedeman noted that the PUC has needed to address alleged supplier marketing violations with a "disturbing" frequency as of late, and Friedeman noted that resolutions of such investigations have included remedial and corrective actions taken by suppliers
However, Friedeman said that suppliers should integrate effective quality assurance plans into their operations which would avoid the occurrence of problematic behavior in the first place
"Preventive plans are an appropriate element of a supplier's demonstration of technical and operational capabilities in both the initial certification application and re-certification applications," Friedeman said
"Depending on the specific facts and circumstances, should there be behavioral issues in the future, for any competitive supplier, I'm inclined to believe that there can be reasonable inferences drawn from the absence of a formal operational emphasis on quality assurance in regard to whether a competitive supplier possesses the requisite technical and operational capabilities to warrant continued certification in this state," Friedeman said
Commissioner Daniel Conway supported Friedeman's comments