Docket 41848 - PETITION OF COMMISSION STAFF TO REVOKE THE RETAIL ELECTRIC PROVIDER CERTIFICATION OF PROTON ENERGY, INC. AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION BY PROTON ENERGY, INC. OF PURA §§ 17.004(a) & 39.101(b) & PUC SUBST. R. §25.107,25.454, 25.472, 25.473, 25.474, 25.475, 25.479, 25.480, 25.483, & 25.485
It’s not often that I’d call a $400,000 administrative penalty and an agreement to leave the market a “victory” but I think in this case I would.
Staff noticed this company for penalties in excess of $2.7M and sought revocation of their license. Staff alleged an number of violations, the most serious of which were the switch-holds and the extreme weather disconnects. Frankly, the majority of the rest were mostly routine compliance audit findings. While the Commissioner’s may find it tough to swallow approving such settlements (with as they said today, “holding their noses”), they should console themselves with the notion that had this gone through the litigation process, they may not have fared as well as the settlement. While the Commissioner’s may be the final voice in what the appropriate “punishment” is for a set of proven facts, they can’t as easily dismiss r ignore a set of facts, once those facts have been proven — something best done through the hearing process. Yes, perhaps they could have instituted a “ban” against the principle, but that assumes the violations (facts) alleged by staff won out at the end of the day. Clearly settlements are sought by both parties to avoid the uncertainty that comes with litigation. Maybe staff would have won, maybe Proton would have won (or won enough).
I will say this though, ending up with an administrative penalty of less than 15% of what staff originally sought is a victory in and of itself! Getting the opportunity to sell your company and recoup some of your investment, Priceless!