Puget Sound Energy fined by state for violating order

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OLYMPIA — State regulators have fined Puget Sound Energy $250,000 for violating a 2010 order that required the utility to review and correct specific customer accounts.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved last week a multiparty settlement of a complaint filed a year ago that alleged 515 violations of the 2010 order.

The parties include commission staff, PSE, the Public Counsel Section of the Attorney General’s Office and The Energy Project, a nonprofit group that represents low-income people.

“Puget Sound Energy accepts the terms of the settlement agreement that was reached and will pay the $250,000 fine,” said Dorothy Bracken, PSE spokeswoman.

“The funds for the fine will come from the owners of Puget Sound Energy,” which is investor-owned, “and not from the customers,” she added.

The commission penalized the company $104,300 in October 2010 for improperly handling accounts of customers, including many low-income customers, disconnected for nonpayment.

Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers, including 18,000 in East Jefferson County.

It is not known how many violations concern Jefferson County residents, said Sharon Wallace, UTC assistant director for consumer protection, last year.

PSE also was ordered to make corrections to 26 specific customer accounts.

PSE has now provided refunds and credits to the mishandled customer accounts and changed its billing practices to ensure that customer payments are applied correctly, the state said.

The company also agreed to make a $75,000 contribution to its low-income assistance program.

“We’re confident we’ve implemented the improved procedures for handling the customer accounts that are disconnected for nonpayment and then reconnected,” Bracken said.

Last modified: November 11. 2012 6:07PM
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