Due to confusion over service area territory, 2,300 East OhioGas (EOG) customers wrongfully switched suppliers from the utilityto ACN Energy, the marketer admitted last week. A letter has beensent to the involved customers. No money changed hands and ACN hastaken responsibility for the mistake.

“Because EOG has not yet opened its entire service area tocompetition, ACN Energy can provide only some EOG consumers withchoice of a natural gas supplier,” Glenn Williams, CEO of ACNEnergy, said in the letter sent to all customers involved in themix up. “Other EOG consumers who are not within the geographicboundaries of EOG’s Energy Choice program will have to wait.Unfortunately, some of those who must still wait were mistakenlyoffered natural gas from ACN Energy by ACN representatives. ACNEnergy regrets this mistake and wants you to know that the mistakewas not the representatives’ fault.”

Of EOG’s 1.2 million customers, only 170,000 are eligible toswitch. So far, EOG said around 35,000, or 20% have actuallyswitched customers. The gas consumers involved in this incident arecentered near Akron and Cleveland, areas that won’t have choiceuntil next fall.

“East Ohio Gas has informed ACN Energy that the Energy Choiceprogram currently remains very limited in scope,” the lettercontinued. “Due to the uniqueness of East Ohio Gas’ program, ACNEnergy did not appreciate the extent of those limitations. Weshould have.”

Dave Merriman, executive vice president for ACN Inc., the parentof ACN Energy, said this incident may end up helping the overallsituation. “None of the consumers got hurt, but I think thisdemonstrates how confusing deregulation can be. Many of thecustomers switched because they thought they were allowed to, whenin fact they couldn’t.” He added that the company expects norepercussions to develop from the incident.

Neil Durbin, a spokesperson for EOG, said “We are not going totake any action against ACN. This was an unfortunate mistake and weare satisfied with the steps ACN has taken to fix the problem.”

ACN Energy has been active in Ohio for six months. Merriman saidhe did not have the number of gas customers the company has gainedin Ohio readily available, but he did say it has been satisfiedwith its performance. Along with Ohio, ACN markets gas andelectricity in seven other states and the District of Columbia.

John Norris

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