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ACN Energy Accuses SoCalGas of "Misleading Customers"

September 27, 1999
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ACN Energy Accuses SoCalGas of "Misleading Customers"

ACN Energy, a gas supplier to thousands of consumers in California, filed a formal complaint last week to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) concerning distribution fee statements sent out to ACN customers by Southern California Gas (SoCalGas). The complaint accuses SoCalGas of mailing ACN customers statements that falsely imply SoCalGas is their gas provider. As a result, ACN said some of its customers have mistakenly and needlessly sent checks to SoCalGas.

ACN has called for an immediate end to the practice and is seeking monetary retribution for the resultant loss of customers. It has also called for any customers, who were inconvenienced by the situation, to complain to the CPUC.

"SoCalGas has been sending our customers 'information only' statements that resemble bills, in which SoCalGas refers repeatedly to charges for 'gas,' when in fact the only cost incurred by SoCalGas is for distribution. The result is understandable confusion and concern among our customers, who believe that they are paying too much for gas," said ACN Energy CEO Glenn S.K. Williams.

The confusion stems from a 1994 settlement between utilities (one of which is SoCalGas), and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). In that settlement, the parties agreed to regulations requiring the utilities that own distribution facilities to provide consumers who get their energy from a competitor with a "distribution fee" statement.

Denise King, a SoCalGas spokesperson said the company plans to file a response at the CPUC within 30 days and request a dismissal. She said the utility was "disappointed that ACN did not try to work with us before filing the complaint." She added that SoCalGas remains open to work with ACN on its concerns.

The incident with SoCalGas marked the second time in September that ACN Energy announced trouble in one of its market areas. Earlier, ACN Energy admitted to wrongfully signing 2,300 customers in East Ohio Gas' (EOG) service territory, due to confusion over EOG's pilot program boundaries. In each case, ACN Energy has sent a letter to its customers explaining the situation.

ACN Energy is a subsidiary of American Communications Networks. Besides Ohio and California, it has energy marketing operations in Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington D.C.

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