In August 2015, HIKO Energy LLC, along with several other energy companies,
was ordered to pay a civil penalty for using deceptive marketing practices—which
ultimately led to steep energy price spikes for consumers. Now, HIKO Energy
LLC is urging the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to decrease the
amount of this penalty, which was set at an unprecedented $1.8 million.
They are claiming that the penalty is based on errors of law and factual
conclusions that are unsupported by evidence.
More specifically, HIKO contests that their penalty is much higher than
the highest penalties approved against other third-party energy suppliers.
They have also claimed that the administrative law judges have failed
to consider other circumstances that should weigh in favor of a lower
penalty—one such circumstance being that they have already settled
similar claims for $1.6 million. Furthermore, HIKO states that the figure
was erroneously calculated by assessing a $125 penalty for each invoice.
According to HIKO, of the 15,000 invoices that were figured into this calculation,
not all were shown to be in violation of the law. As a result, they are
requesting the original ruling be modified. HIKO has already agreed to
pay $1.6 million to refund customers. The Public Utility Commission opted
not to take part in this suit, electing to pursue a separate claim seeking
almost $15 million in penalties and the revocation of HIKO’s license;
however, judges found that this civil penalty was too high.
Pennsylvania isn’t the only state to accuse HIKO of deceptive marketing
practices. In January, the company also agreed to pay New Jersey $2.1
million for misleading customers into switching providers. They claimed
that customers could save as much as 10%, only to increase their rates
to amounts higher than they were paying before. If you are interested
in learning more about this case,
please click here.