Pennsylvania officials are taking legal action to suspend or revoke the licenses of five electricity suppliers accused of spiking energy prices last winter by as much as 300 percent.
The state attorney general's Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Office of Consumer Advocate filed joint complaints before the Public Utility Commission that also seek restitution for customers and civil penalties against the companies.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane identified the companies as Energy Services Providers Inc., which did business as Pennsylvania Gas & Electric, IDT Energy Inc., Respond Power LLC, Hiko Energy LLC, and Blue Pilot Energy LLC.
"We received thousands of complaints from consumers who could not pay their excessively high bills," Kane said in a statement. "Those consumers were deceived and we are taking those who participated in the deception to task."
The complaints allege that the prices charged to customers were not reflective of the cost to serve residential electricity needs.
Kane said the suppliers enticed consumers by promising low or competitive rates, and provided customers with contracts and service agreements that did not comply with the Telemarketer Registration Act.
More than 42,000 Pennsylvanians called the state attorney general's office and over 7.500 people filed complaints about electricity spikes between late February and mid-June.
Kane said many of those people complained their electricity supplier was switched without their consent, a violation of PUC regulations and state law.