Hartford, CT – Attorney General William Tong and Consumer Counsel Claire Coleman on Wednesday announced a $3 million settlement with third-party electric supplier Public Power. The settlement resolves allegations that the company failed to publish “next cycle rate” information as required, denying consumers the chance to switch to another supplier to avoid a rate increase. As part of the agreement, Public Power will permanently exit the electric supplier market, along with three of its sister companies. A fourth company will exit the market in September. Funds from the settlement will be used to pay down accumulated, unpaid electric bills for hardship customers. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s (PURA) Office of Education, Outreach and Enforcement was also a party in the settlement.
“Public Power withheld basic required rate information that consumers needed to make an informed choice. PURA gave them an opportunity to correct that error and make things right. They refused. This $3 million settlement forces Public Power out of the market permanently and will provide substantial debt relief to families in need,” said Attorney General Tong. “Connecticut families pay far too much for their energy. They don’t need to be misled into paying even more.”
“Consumers are entitled to timely and accurate information about electric rates,” said Consumer Counsel Coleman. “Public Power failed to provide the required transparency to its customers. As a result, today’s settlement ensures that they can no longer participate in the Connecticut market. The funds from this settlement will make a substantial difference assisting customers who are in arrears for unpaid electric bills during a time of high energy prices and economic uncertainty. I would continue to advise all consumers participating in the electric supply market to use caution and remain vigilant about monitoring rate changes when doing so, particularly during this period of market volatility.”
In 2018, PURA discovered that many third-party electric suppliers had failed to correctly provide “next cycle rate” information for customer bills. This information gives consumers a heads up in advance of a rate change, and provides an opportunity to switch to a potentially lower-cost supplier. After discovering widespread non-compliance, PURA provided an “amnesty” window for suppliers, agreeing to forgive penalties for suppliers who voluntarily self-reported and reimbursed customers for unpublished rate increases. While most suppliers accepted this deal, Public Power refused, resulting in an investigation.
During the course of the investigation, Public Power was acquired by Vistra Group, which also owns four other electric suppliers in Connecticut—Ambit, Viridian, CT Gas and Electric, and Energy Rewards. As part of today’s settlement, Public Power, Viridian, CT Gas and Electric, and Energy Rewards will permanently cease business in Connecticut. Ambit has been allowed to continue business through September to fulfill long-term contracts that are currently lower than the standard service rate. Ambit will be allowed to reapply for a Connecticut license in September 2027.
Assistant Attorneys General John Wright and Lauren Bidra, Legal Investigator Caylee Ribeiro, and Consumer Protection Section Chief Michael Wertheimer assisted the Attorney General in this matter. Staff Attorneys Andrew W. Minikowski and Jessica Gouveia and Economist John Viglione assisted the Consumer Counsel in this matter.