Dan Clearfield comments on PUC oversight of competitive market in polar vortex cases (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

July 19, 2016

Dan Clearfield, chair of the firm’s Utilities Group, was recently quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Powersource” article titled “Really cold cases: PUC still working on polar vortex issues.” The article addresses PUC oversight of competitive market in the polar vortex cases involving alleged broken promises from electric suppliers when they spiked rates during a burst of cold weather. The polar vortex settlements are among the largest the commission has ever approved, and have been issued on companies operating in the free market. See brief excerpt from article below:

A settlement is proof that the both sides generally agree, he said, or at least are not so incensed about the outcome that they’re willing to endure a legal fight, Mr. Clearfield said.

He added that while it was somewhat unusual for the commission to handle such a large wave of consumer protection cases against deregulated companies, the commission narrowly focused its claims on language the suppliers used to promise customers lower rates.

He estimated that dozens of other complaints were filed against other companies and thrown out by the commission because they alleged only that rates had been unfairly raised. As deregulated companies, suppliers’ rates can’t be controlled by the commission.

“I’m glad the PUC is handling these things because it really takes an expertise of energy markets to be able to really understand these kinds of claims,” Mr. Clearfield said.

After the fallout from the polar vortex, “Suppliers have been much more careful about the promises they’ve made.”

The full article is available on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website. (Access to content on third-party websites may require subscription.)

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