Pennsylvania PUC Proposes Revisions to Electric Supplier’s Marketing and Sales Practices

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued a proposed settlement agreement (Docket No. M-2016-2536806) with licensed energy retailer Great American Power for comment on December 8  following an informal investigation into the company’s marketing and sales practices in the Keystone State.

The commission voted 5-0 to issue for comment the proposed settlement between Great American and the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement (I&E) – which began an informal investigation on March 28 in response to allegations of aggressive marketing tactics by third-party representatives of the supplier; as well as charges of use of improper third-party verification calls during outside telemarketing efforts.

Pennsylvania regulations require transactions by sales agents to be verified by the customer, separate from the transaction process, before a contract is finalized.

After its investigation, I&E concluded that outside sales agents acting on behalf of Great American failed to meet established standards and practices pursuant to commission regulations, including violations regarding both “Standards for Changing a Customer’s Electricity Generation Supplier” and telemarketing activity by outside agents as described in Chapter 111 of the Public Utility Code.

“We note that the settlement references 37 marketing-related customer complaints.… Seventeen  of these incidents [involved] unacceptable or questionable marketing practices, “ the bureau commented in its official report.

Under the proposed settlement, Great American Power would

  • Implement revisions to its operating procedures intended to safeguard against future unauthorized marketing practices of its employees or agents;
  • Hire in-house counsel and additional compliance personnel;
  • Actively engage outside counsel for compliance matters; and
  • Institute a revised internal compliance policy;
  • Terminate its relationship with the third-party marketer involved in the violations;
  • Contract with a new compliant third-party marketer; and
  •  Improve upon training materials for third-party marketers.

Interested parties have 20 days to file comments on the settlement.  Instructions on how to file comments are contained in the Commission’s Order.

Great American Power is approved and licensed by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission and the Maryland Public Service Commission. The company currently provides electric service in PPL, PECO, Duquesne, BGE, Delmarva and PEPCO utility territories

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