GREENSTEIN & BECK BILL TO PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM UNSCRUPULOUS ENERGY & GAS PROVIDERS ADVANCES

Senator Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer, addresses the State Senate after being sworn in to office.

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Linda R. Greenstein and Jennifer Beck, which would protect New Jersey consumers from fraudulent claims made by electric power and gas suppliers, received final legislative approval today and now heads to the Governor.

“Residents in my district and throughout the state are being harassed by unsolicited phone calls, sometimes multiple times in a day, urging them to switch energy or gas companies,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer. “These calls at home are disruptive to New Jerseyans and can be a relentless invasion of privacy.  Residents should have a course of action to put a stop to these interruptions.”

The bill, S-2308, would require the Board of Public Utilities in consultation with the Department of Consumer Affairs to adopt advertising and marketing standards for electric power and gas suppliers who purposely make false or misleading advertising claims to a potential residential customer or who – via the telephone – initiate contact with a potential residential customer who is on the state or federal “do not call list.”

“This bill provides an important protection for utility customers and potential customers,” explained Senator Beck, R-Monmouth. “I had heard from constituents in certain retirement developments that there were confusing and sometimes predatory tactics being used by some utility suppliers to garner their business. We can not allow these suppliers to take advantage of what can often be a confusing process while exploiting a potentially vulnerable client base.”

Under the bill, an electric power supplier, gas supplier, broker, energy agent, marketer, private aggregator, sales representative or telemarketer that violates one of these prohibitions and then collects charges from a customer would be liable to the customer in the amount equal to all charges paid by the customer. Additionally, they would be liable for a civil penalty up to $10,000 for the first offense and $25,000 for each additional offense for each day the violation continues.

The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate last Thursday. The Assembly concurred with Senate amendments today and the bill heads to the Governor for his consideration.

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