Texas PUC Executive Director Issues Notice Of Violation Against 'Energy' Telemarketer
The executive director of the Public Utility Commission of Texas has issued a Notice of Violation against telemarketer Energy First, arising from allegations against Energy First from the Commission's Oversight and Enforcement Division (O&E)
The NOV is not final, and it does not constitute final agency action. Energy First may request a hearing to contest the alleged occurrence of the violation, the amount of the penalty, or both
16 TAC § 26.37(i)(2) requires a telemarketer, upon request from the Commission or Commission Staff, to provide, within 21 calendar days of receipt of such request, all information in its possession and upon which it relies to demonstrate compliance with such section, relating to the Commission's investigation of alleged violations of the no-call list including, but not limited to, the call logs or phone records.
The NOV alleges that, "Energy First has failed to respond to O&E's Requests for Information (RFIs) regarding its compliance with 16 TAC § 26.37. As of September 4, 2018, Energy First has not provided any response to O&E's RFIs, despite receiving repeated requests."
In the NOV, the executive director recommends, "assessing an administrative penalty against Energy First in the amount of $5,000."
In the NOV, the executive director recommends, "Additionally, if Energy First does not provide a full response to O&E's RFI's within 21 days of this Notice of Violation, I recommend an additional $100 penalty per day for each day it continues to fail to respond."
In a Staff report attached to the NOV, O&E alleged, "O&E began investigating Energy First for violations of TBCC and Commission Rules in February of 2018. O&E sent an opening letter and requests for information (RFIs) to a Texas address for Energy First on February 26, 2018 to make a determination on the alleged violations. Energy First responded to the RFIs only by calling O&E to refer Staff to Energy First's attorney, based in Arizona. O&E sent the RFIs to Energy First's attorney by email on March 27, 2018 and by hard copy to the Arizona address on February 4, 2018. While the address was verified with Energy First's attorney, the RFI was returned to the Commission as 'Ins Address #?' After communicating with Energy First's attorney on April 27, 2018, O&E confirmed receipt of the digital version of the RFIs and instructed Energy First to respond. O&E, again, on May 29, 2018 informed Energy First's attorney that the Commission had not received a response, that deadline for responding had run, and that without a good faith showing that Energy First planned to respond Staff would recommend that the executive director of the Commission issue an NOV. Energy First has not responded to O&E's RFIs as of September 4, 2018."
O&E further alleged that, "Since January 1, 2017, the Commission has received 12 complaints involving Energy First. Through its failure to respond, Energy First is preventing the Commission from performing its duty to investigate complaints."