HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued for comment a proposed $15,000 settlement petition stemming from an informal investigation of PPL Electric Utilities Inc. concerning a residential account that had been terminated for non-payment.
The Commission voted 5-0 to seek comment on the proposed settlement.
Terms of the settlement include that:
- PPL agreed to conduct a training for its call center personnel regarding its customer confidentiality policy, specific to reinforce the company’s existing procedures for disclosing customer information ;
- PPL agreed to make a change in practice to better utilize its web-based Customer Transition Program (CTP);
- PPL gave additional attention to customer service representatives’ (CSR) responsibilities to assess customer satisfaction through its call monitoring efforts and revised its call monitoring reports accordingly;
- PPL revised its procedures so that customers with high overdue balances will be immediately transferred by the CSR to a special team to discuss payment arrangement terms;
- PPL agreed to meet with Area Agency on Aging (AAA) offices throughout its service territory to discuss its customer confidentiality policy, under which contacts by AAA representatives on behalf of elderly PPL customers qualify as an exception to PPL’s general prohibition against releasing customer information to third parties; and
- PPL agreed to pay a $5,000 civil settlement amount and make a contribution of $10,000 to its Operation HELP hardship fund.
The Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS) instituted an informal investigation following PPL’s submission of a report on July 1, 2010, pursuant to the Commission’s Secretarial Letter of Jan.16, 2009, regarding Interim Reporting Requirements for Regulated Electric and Gas Utilities to File Reports Regarding any Incidents Involving Death at Locations Where Residential Utility Service Has Been Terminated at Docket No. M-2009-2084013. The informal investigation concerned a residential account that had been terminated for non-payment on June 10, 2010. PPL was informed by the customer’s daughter that the customer passed away at his residence on June 25, 2010.
BCS determined that PPL may have violated Section 1501 of the Public Utility Code, and certain provisions of Title 52, Chapter 56 of the Pennsylvania Code, during contacts with the customer prior to termination of service, specifically issues concerning dispute and termination procedures; failure to provide reasonable and adequate service; failure to advise the customer of his opportunity to contact the Commission; failure to diligently attempt to negotiate a payment arrangement ; failure to refer the customer to available customer assistance programs; failure to discuss the customer’s account with his protective services program representatives; and failure to properly determine satisfaction at the conclusion of the customer contacts.
Interested parties have 20 days from entry of the order to issue their comments.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.
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Docket Number M-2011-2196342