N.J. AG sues three energy providers

By Nick Rees | Jun 5, 2014


NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - Acting N.J. Attorney General John Hoffman filed complaints on Wednesday against three third-party energy suppliers that allegedly deceived consumers about "competitive" monthly pricing.

Hoffman, joined by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, filed the complaints against Palmco Power NJ, LLC and Palmco Energy NJ, LLC, HIKO Energy LLC, and Keil & Sons Inc., doing business as Systrum Energy.

"These three companies allegedly lured consumers with promised monthly savings that turned out to be fictional," Hoffman said. "Even worse, consumers who hoped to save money instead saw their bills increase to unconscionable levels. To be clear, our action relates to the specific practices of these three companies and is not an indication of wrong-doing by other third-party energy suppliers. Deception and misrepresentation of consumers has no place in any aspect of New Jersey's marketplace."

The companies allegedly deceived consumers about "competitive" monthly pricing and/or guarantees that consumers would receive reductions in their monthly electric and gas bills if they switched utility providers.

Consumers, however, allegedly saw their bills increase in the winter as the companies charged more per kilowatt or therm of energy that the previous suppliers.

The complaint alleges violations of the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act, the Consumer Fraud Act, multiple regulations concerning energy licensing and registration, retail choice consumer protection, anti-slamming requirements, and advertising by energy suppliers, and/or the Plain Language Act.

Additionally, the state alleges that HIKO and Palmco were "slamming" customers by switching their gas and/or electric accounts with the knowledge or consent of consumers.

The state is seeking restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties, attorneys' fees and costs, and future adherence to all applicable marketing, advertising and contract standards.

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