Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Acting Consumer Advocate McCloskey have
recently filed a complaint with the Public Utility Commissioner over what
they believe amounts to deceptive and fraudulent consumer practices by
private electric companies in Pennsylvania. Their joint complaint states
that Energy Service Providers, such as Pennsylvania Gas & Electric,
Blue Pilot Energy, Respond Power, IDT Energy Inc., and HIKO Energy purposefully
and willfully deceived customers throughout Pennsylvania regarding their
electricity rates. The result was enormous electricity bills throughout
the winter for thousands of deceived Pennsylvania consumers.
Across Pennsylvania, thousands of consumers were hit with huge electricity
rate hikes in January and February. The problem arose when these private
suppliers promised competitive rates to customers who switched from PPL.
Instead, they were charged a premium rate during the Polar Vortex that
was not consistent with the actual cost of providing power to these customers.
While consumers were promised lower than or equal rates to the Price to
Compare-many saw the exact opposite.
While the Polar Vortex this winter did create a rising demand and spike
in natural gas prices, some electric customers were charged double and
even triple the Price to Compare. Many of these consumers even used less
electricity in those months -yet their rates doubled.
During the first 6 months of the year, the Office of Attorney General received
more than 42,000 calls and over 7,500 complaints regarding the unnatural
electricity rate spike. The Office of Consumer Advocate also received
more than 3,000 phone calls.
Currently, HIKO, IDT, and Respond are under investigation by the Public
Utility Commission and Pennsylvania Gas & Electric may be next. The
complaint filed by the Attorney General calls for suspension or revocation
of the licenses of those electricity providers, restitution, and civil
penalties for their misconduct.
The Attorney General is authorized by the Consumer Protection Laws to protect
the consumers in Pennsylvania from unfair methods of competition, as well
as unfair or deceptive practices. As such, the formal complaint was filed
citing 7 specific counts.
- Misleading and deceptive promises of savings
- Misleading and deceptive welcome letters and advertisements
- Lack of good faith handling of complaints
- Failing to provide accurate pricing information
- Prices nonconforming to disclosure statement
- Failure to comply with telemarketer registration act
Protect your rights as a consumer by calling us at Golomb & Honik,
P.C. at (215) 278-4449.