(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored in-part by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Eric Houghtaling, and Paul Moriarty to strengthen state law against energy “slamming” practices was released on Monday by the Assembly Telecommunications panel.
Energy “slamming” is a practice that involves changing consumers’ electric power or gas supplier without their knowledge or consent.
“Changing consumers’ electric power or gas supplier without their knowledge or consent is unacceptable,” said Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex). “Residents should always be kept informed when any change on their energy bill takes place, especially if it results in a higher monthly payment. Raising penalties is a deterrent for these types of unfair, unscrupulous practices.”
“In the past year, certain third-party energy suppliers took advantage of an unusually cold winter to change consumers’ energy suppliers without their knowledge or consent,” said Houghtaling (D- Monmouth). “Energy “slamming” is anti-consumerism at its best and it impacts families in a way that hurts them the most, their budgets. This legislation takes a much needed step to protect residents from this unfair business practice.”
“A number of consumers complained of these unauthorized changes which resulted in skyrocketing energy utility bills,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Doubling civil penalties for slamming practices will help to discourage third-party energy suppliers from taking advantage of consumers in the future.”
The bill (A-1683) would increase civil penalties for energy “slamming” practiced from $10,000 for the first offense, and not more than $25,000 for the second and each subsequent offense, to $20,000 for the first offense, and not more than $50,000 for the second and each subsequent offense.
The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further review.