COLUMBUS, OHIO (July 1, 2020) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today ordered retail energy supplier SFE Energy Ohio, LLC and StateWise Energy Ohio, LLC to respond to allegations of misleading sales practices.
“Allegations of potential bad behavior by competitive retail suppliers of energy can erode the public’s trust in the marketplace, and these allegations warrant a prompt and thorough investigation,” stated PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo. “The Commission is particularly troubled by the apparent attempt take advantage of the current health crisis and lack of regard for health-related safety protocols coming on the heels of our order opening up door to door sales with some strong signals about our resolve to protect the public from these types of practices.”
In its order, the Commission directed SFE Energy and StateWise to voluntarily suspend its certificate to market to and enroll new customers as retail energy suppliers, respond to allegations in writing, or request a hearing on the matter, to be held July 15, 2020.
In a June 29, 2020 letter, PUCO staff indicated an analysis of consumer complaints since January 2020 revealed a pattern of misleading and deceptive practices, disputed enrollments, and possible violations of door-to-door marketing limitations.
Video recorded by a resident’s doorbell camera shows an SFE Energy agent allegedly committing multiple violations of PUCO regulations, including:
- Falsely stating that the agent was there to complete a service check on behalf of the customer’s gas and electric distribution utilities;
- Using false information in attempting to access information from the customer’s bills;
- Falsely stating that the customer’s utility bills will increase in one to two billing cycles due to COVID-19;
- Failing to leave when asked to do so; and
- Not adhering to mask protocols required to protect public safety while on the customer’s property.
The PUCO is charged with adopting and enforcing regulations to protect consumers from any misleading or deceptive acts or practices by competitive retail electric and natural gas providers.
A copy of today’s finding and order can be found on the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov by clicking on the link to Documents and Rules, then Docketing Information System (DIS) and search case 20-1216-GE-COI.