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Georgia PSC Cracks Down on Marketers' Variable Rate Plans

Coming down hard on a few of the state's natural gas marketers on allegations that they violated the Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act and the Natural Gas Consumers' Relief Act, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has reached a settlement with Georgia Natural Gas (GNG), but will hold hearings this spring related to SCANA Energy after the marketer rejected the commission's proposed settlement, it said Thursday.

The hearings will look into allegations by the commission staff that SCANA violated state law and commission rules. A majority of PSC commissioners on Thursday voted to hold the hearings into allegations stemming from numerous consumer complaints about the marketer's variable rate plans. The vote follows the marketer's rejection of a proposed settlement adopted by the commission on March 4.

"SCANA Energy has determined that it must decline the PSC's settlement offer because we have violated no PSC rule or state law, nor have we overcharged, misled or deceived our customers," the company said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "The proposed settlement states that 'the commission makes no findings as to whether or not SCANA violated commission law or rules or intended to mislead or deceive customers.'

"SCANA Energy will vigorously defend its position and will seek, through the Rule Nisi proceedings, a clear and unequivocal finding that we have violated no PSC rule or state law and that we have not overcharged, misled or deceived our customers. SCANA Energy will take immediate steps to improve communications with its customers about pricing options. We will also work with the PSC to ensure that its online reporting accurately reflects the pricing options that we have faithfully submitted to the commission."

As for GNG, the commission said Thursday that the marketer accepted a settlement to resolve issues stemming from numerous consumer complaints about the marketer's variable rate plans. A majority of the commission voted to accept the settlement proposed by PSC Chairman Chuck Eaton.

The terms of the accepted proposal include:

The PSC noted that nothing in the settlement prevents consumers from pursuing any civil claims they may have against GNG.

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