Daily Record Staff//March 27, 2023
//March 27, 2023
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed SFE Energy Maryland Inc., a retail energy supplier with more than 20,000 electric and gas customers in the state, to cease door-to-door solicitation of new customers in Maryland.
The ban went into effect at midnight Sunday.
The PSC determined at a hearing that SFE Energy may have violated state laws and regulations and that a moratorium is necessary to protect consumers and to ensure that SFE Energy’s practices are compliant.
Particular concerns were raised regarding the door-to-door sales practices used by SFE Energy to enroll customers, a function that a witness for SFE Energy testified that it outsources to sales agents employed by iMarket Global Inc. Customers have alleged that SFE agents claimed to be from a utility such as BGE, that SFE signed them up for service without the customer’s permission, or that agents did not provide customers with the required contract documents.
Having determined that material issues of fact exist, the commission directed an administrative law judge to conduct an evidentiary hearing regarding these matters and to report findings to the PSC on an expedited basis.
The PSC launched a six-month maximum enforcement period on Feb. 1 after noting record-high numbers of complaints against suppliers in recent months. This effort is designed to marshal more internal resources to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute retail energy suppliers who are failing to abide by the state’s laws and regulations. It will also involve using these resources and expedited procedures to, if necessary, invoke civil penalties and/or revoke supplier licenses.