Five out-of-state electric-generation suppliers are facing complaints before the state Public Utility Commission after consumers objected to electricity bills that increased as much as 300 percent.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Office of Consumer Advocate joined in the complaint seeking the suspension or revocation of licenses for, and restitution from, Energy Services Providers Inc., doing business as Pennsylvania Gas & Electric; IDT Energy Inc.; Respond Power LLC; Hiko Energy LLC; and Blue Pilot Energy LLC.
The suppliers are accused of multiple violations of the PUC’s orders and regulations, the Public Utility Code, the Consumer Protection Law and the Telemarketer Registration Act, according to the release.
The complaints allege that the suppliers enticed consumers by promising low or “competitive” rates if the consumer switched suppliers, according to the release. The actions also allege that the prices charged to customers were not reflective of the cost to serve residential electricity needs.
The actions also allege that consumers were provided with copies of contracts or terms and conditions pages that did not comply with the Telemarketer Registration Act, according to the release. The consumer protection bureau said many consumers complained their electricity supplier was switched without their consent. The unauthorized switching of electricity suppliers is considered “slamming” and is a violation of the PUC Regulations and the Consumer Protection Law, according to the release.
“The core function of the Consumer Protection Bureau is to advocate for consumers and investigate fraud on their behalf,” Kane said in a news release. “We received thousands of complaints from consumers who could not pay their excessively high bills. Those consumers were deceived and we are taking those who participated in the deception to task.”
Between late February and mid-June, the attorney general’s office received 42,603 telephone calls and 7,551 consumer complaints about electricity spikes, according to the release. During that same time period, the consumer advocate’s office received more than 3,000 contacts from consumers.