PSC launches probe into telemarketing practices of 3rd-party power suppliers

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The Delaware Public Service Commission launched a formal probe into marketing practices by third-party electric suppliers that include phone messages linked to a call center in Pakistan.

Delaware PSC Staff and Delaware Division of the Public Advocate have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints from residential electric customers in Delaware alleging telemarketers who are not affiliated with Delmarva Power & Light Company are using spoofing – a caller ID that reads “Delmarva Power” in order to get the customer to answer the call.

The calls come in waves and typically tell customers about big discounts on rates.

Based on a PSC Staff investigation, some of the calls have been traced back to a call center in Lahore, Pakistan. The PSC Staff is investigating whether any third-party electric suppliers in Delaware use this call center to make sales calls in Delaware.

This issue has also been escalated to the Delaware Department of Justice and is under review for further action.

“Unethical persons and entities are attempting to damage the extensive work that was done to bring the retail choice program to Delaware. These dishonest practices disregard PSC regulations and target anyone in Delaware, including those who may not even be eligible customers. I consider these actions even more heinous given the economic hardship many Delawareans are experiencing because of the COVID 19 pandemic”, said Dr. Raj Barua, the PSC’s executive director.

“Third-Party Supplier contracts are made even more difficult to understand by unscrupulous practices of third-party suppliers spoofing the numbers of Delmarva Power, local hospitals, and others. This practice must end and I appreciate the Public Service Commission opening a docket to address this issue,” said Public Advocate Drew Slater.

Electric supply charges make up approximately 65 percent of a typical residential electric bill, and third-party electric suppliers offer Delmarva Power & Light customers a choice regarding their electric supply. Suppliers must apply to the Delaware PSC to be certified and must follow PSC regulations regarding sales practices.

The third-party suppliers offer options, such as electricity from “green” nonfossil fuel sources (at extra cost) or short-term deals that may come with lower rates.

Delmarva offers rates that are based on using multiple wholesale suppliers, with contracts of varying lengths. This approach is designed to smooth out rates that might otherwise be volatile.

Under PSC rules, Delmarva cannot earn a profit on is wholesale rates and gets its income through the cost of moving electricity through the grid to the home and business.

Customers who think they may have been spoofed by a third-party electric supplier should contact the Delaware Public Advocate’s office at (302) 241-2555 or the Public Service Commission at (302) 736-7500.

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