MD Energy Supplier Accused of Enrollment Violations
December 21, 2020
On December 14, 2020, the Compliance and Enforcement Unit (“CEU”) of the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (“MD PSC” or “Commission”) Consumer Affairs Division filed a letter with the Commission recommending that Commission Staff initiate a complaint against StateWise Energy Maryland LLC (“StateWise”). The CEU’s letter stems from a review of customer complaints lodged against Statewise and alleges a variety of violations of the Commission’s marketing and enrollment rules.
Specifically, the CEU letter alleges that StateWise only provided the consumers that it enrolled as a result of door-to-door marketing with a contract summary along with a signed e-TPV form as opposed to the full contract as is required by the MD PSC. The CEU letter also alleges StateWise engaged in the unauthorized enrollment of customers in that StateWise permitted spouses and other non-customers of record to enroll the accounts of customers. In addition, the CEU letter alleges that StateWise made various misrepresentation to consumers, including promises of savings, rebates, and gift cards that did not materialize.
To remedy these alleged violations, the CEU letter requests the following potential relief from the MD PSC: 1) initiate a formal complaint into StateWise’s enrollment practices; 2) direct StateWise to identify and refund affected customers the difference between the billed amounts and the utility rates where no signed contract exists to support the enrollment; 3) default all existing customers to their respective utility within 30 days unless a signed contract is obtained for continued enrollment; 4) require that overage charges be included on the StateWise contract summary provided to consumer, when applicable, as well as the correct early termination fee; 4) require revisions to any StateWise documentation, marketing, and/or training materials to remove “spouse” as an authorized person; and 5) impose a civil penalty for engaging in misrepresentations and deceptive practices.
It remains to be seen whether the Commission Staff will initiate a formal complaint proceeding or grant any of the other relief sought by the CEU. However, this incident does demonstrate the compliance burdens imposed by the MD PSC’s marketing and enrollment rules and the potential risks involved with failure to meet these obligations.
If you have any questions regarding the above-described CEU letter or compliance with MD PSC marketing requirements more generally, please contact Charles A. Zdebski at 202.659.6655 (email@example.com), Deanne M. O’Dell at 717.255.3744 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jeffrey P. Brundage at 202.659.6676 (email@example.com), or Robert J. Gastner at 202.659.6674 (firstname.lastname@example.org).