PSC to crackdown on exploitative utility vendors
William J. Kemble is reporting in the Daily Freeman the state Public Service Commission has voted to crack down on vendors that falsely claim to have lower electricity prices, violate marketing rules to contact customers and improperly switch customers to different providers. A report on the high volume of complaints was discussed during a commission meeting in Manhattan, Tue., Feb. 23. The PSC general counsel said efforts to deregulate the system have led to abuses by energy service companies. In 1998, the commission changed the rules and made it possible for customers to obtain their energy supply from an independent company. At the same time, the rule changes allowed those companies to develop pricing structures that led to higher bills based on service fees. Approximately 5,000 customers complained to the PSC about this problem in 2015. Commission Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman said last month National Grid customers paid $17 million more in one month for energy from private companies than they would have paid if they had received their energy from National Grid. The commission will consider imposing fines on offending companies, and marketing by independent providers will now be required to adhere to local, state and federal laws involving telephone calls and door-to-door sales. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.