The New York State Public Service Commission is threatening to revoke Liberty Power's approval to offer energy services in New York, citing a pattern of marketing abuse and numerous customer complaints.
“While we facilitate retail competition in the energy business, we will not tolerate continuing violations of the marketing standards that we have established to ensure consumers are treated fairly and reasonably by energy service companies,” said Commission PSC Chairman Garry Brown.
In December 2006, state PSC staff deemed Liberty Power eligible to serve as an energy service company, and Liberty Power began marketing services in New York in 2007. It serves customers in the territories of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, New York State Electric & Gas Corporation, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Orange and Rockland Utilities, and Rochester Gas & Electric Corporation. The majority of customers are in Con Edison’s territory.
Last year, the PSC’s staff received 186 initial customer complaints against Liberty Power, as compared to 26 in 2011. The majority of customer complaints against Liberty Power involved misleading marketing practices, sales representatives misrepresenting their identity, and enrolling customers without proper authorization, a practice known as slamming.
All of these complaints were eventually resolved. However, upon further investigation the PSC says it appears that the company’s representatives continued to violate the PSC’s Uniform Business Practices, despite committing to several corrective actions.
The company must explain within seven days why it should not be precluded from enrolling new customers until the PSC orders otherwise. Also, Liberty Power must, within 14 days, show why its eligibility to act as an energy supply company in New York State should not be revoked or, alternatively, why the PSC should not impose other consequences.
The PSC first adopted its business practices in 1999 and added marketing standards in 2008. The standards are incorporated into each utility company’s tariff. Energy service companies are required to comply with the standards in order to maintain their eligibility to sell gas and electric service in New York.
The PSC's decision today is available by going to the Commission Documents section of the PSC's Web site at www.dps.ny.gov and entering Case Number 13-E-0062 in the input box labeled "Search for Case/Matter Number."