PUCO issues compliance orders to retail energy suppliers, gas pipeline safety violations

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today issued three separate compliance orders related to retail energy providers, and gas pipeline safety violations. The compliance actions will result in customer refunds and more than $530,000 in forfeitures.

SFE Energy & Statewise Energy

Retail energy suppliers SFE Energy and Statewise Energy will pay a $174,000 civil forfeiture to the state of Ohio for violations of PUCO rules and regulations. Additionally, the companies will credit customers that enrolled with the suppliers from November 2019 through June 26, 2020 the difference in price had the customer been charged their utility’s default energy supply rate.

PUCO investigation accused SFE Energy and Statewise of misleading and deceptive practices while marketing to and enrolling customers, including making false and misleading statements while soliciting customers during door-to-door sales.

Major Energy Services LLC & Major Energy Electric Services LLC

 Major Energy Services LLC and Major Energy Electric Services LLC will pay a $115,000 civil forfeiture to the state of Ohio for violations of PUCO rules and regulations. Additionally, the suppliers will return customers enrolled via door-to-door sales between January 2019 through January 2020 to their utility’s default energy supply rate and credit them the difference in price. Total credits are approximately $200,000.

PUCO investigation accused Major Energy of enrolling new customers without their consent.

Columbia Gas of Ohio

Columbia Gas of Ohio will pay a $250,000 civil forfeiture to the state of Ohio for violations of natural gas pipeline safety regulations. Additionally, Columbia will conduct internal reviews of its management controls and training programs and provide reports to the Commission within 90-180 days.

On Oct. 1, 2020, an equipment failure at Columbia’s Kitts Hill Road Compressor Station led to a natural gas distribution system over-pressurization and ultimately forced the utility to shut off service to approximately 105 customers in Kitts Hill, Lawrence County. A PUCO investigation alleged Columbia failed to follow its own safety procedures, resulting in an otherwise preventable over-pressurization and loss of service.

Copies of the orders are available on the PUCO website by clicking the link to “Docketing Information System” and searching for cases 20-1216-GE-COI21-46-GE-UNC and 20-1759-GA-GPS.