Although the sale of its customers to Shell Energy Services wasfinalized last week, Peachtree Natural Gas is not clear of problemsyet. The Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) told NGI it isinvestigating slamming charges against the embattled marketer. GPSCCommissioner Bobby Baker said a slamming investigation is currentlyunder way and that anywhere from several hundred to severalthousand gas customers could be affected. There is no timeframe forthe conclusion of the investigation.

The alleged slamming, or unauthorized switching of customers,apparently occurred around the time Peachtree filed for bankruptcyprotection last October. Baker said there is evidence of extensivewrongdoing. “There is a pretty clear indication of extensiveslamming. Right now, however, it is still under investigation. Weare not sure who did it. It might have been an internal employee ofPeachtree, or it might be an outside agent.”

Baker said no punishment has been decided upon yet in the eventthat Peachtree is found guilty. “We’re looking into that. It istricky because they have no customers. We might go to theBankruptcy court and ask for a penalty payment. Shell is a very keyplayer in this situation. They stand to lose a significant amountof money if many of [the customers] were signed unjustly.”

The GPSC is also attempting to remove Peachtree’s marketercertification. “Pulling the certificate is a complex issue. Theyhave not voluntarily removed it, so we have to go through a lengthyprocess to do so,” Baker said.

Shell Energy Services proclaimed the completion of its customeraccount acquisition late last week. The FTC approval was the onlyregulatory hurdle the $19.3 million deal needed to jump. Throughthe transaction, the Shell affiliate became the third largestnatural gas marketer in the state with more than 20% of the marketshare (see NGI, Nov. 22).

“We want to assure all our new customers that there will be nointerruption in their service and they will not be required to takeany action during this transition period,” said Alan Raymond,president, Shell Energy. Peachtree’s 172,000 customers will beswitched over to Shell this week and will receive their first billfrom Shell Energy Services in January.

John Norris

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