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State Cracks Down on Energy Services Company

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The State Attorney General's office has reached a settlement with a private natural gas supplier over its service contracts.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo accused US Energy Savings of forcing their Western New York customers to pay excessive termination fees to get out of their contracts.

Since 1996, so-called energy services companies like this are competing with regulated utilities by selling natural gas directly to customers. US Energy Savings offered consumers four or five year plans that locked in rates. But consumers then found out they were paying more for their natural gas now to compensate for the lower rates they'll receive later on.

When consumers tried to get out of their contract, Assistant AG James Morrisey says they found they couldn't without paying a hefty termination fee.

As part of the settlement, consumers will now have 30 days after they receive their first bill to get out of the contract. US Energy Savings will waive hundreds of thousands of dollars in termination fees and will pay $200,000 in costs and penalties to the state.

Morrisey said the Attorney General's office received more than 300 complaints about US Energy Savings' business practices.

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