TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation increasing penalties on energy suppliers and marketers for hijacking consumers’ electric bills was signed Wednesday by Governor Phil Murphy. Sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, the consumer protection bill (A1683) doubles the penalties for changing a consumer’s power company without approval to $20,000 for the first offense, and $50,000 for each subsequent violation.
“There are overly aggressive operators preying on vulnerable ratepayers,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Seniors, especially, are often victimized by ‘slamming,’ having their electric or gas suppliers changed and their rates increased without consent. The significant penalties established by this law are strong deterrents to energy scammers.”
Dancer and Handlin’s bill passed the Assembly unanimously in February 2018, and was approved by the Senate with a 35-0 vote this February.
“Any ratepayer is susceptible to slamming, but for seniors on a fixed income or families struggling to make ends meet, it is a threat to their financial security,” said Handlin (R-Monmouth). “This bill increases penalties to a level that will make deceitful marketers think twice about ripping off the public.”
In 2016, New Jersey settled energy-slamming cases against third-party suppliers for almost $7 million. Two years earlier, the state attorney general and the Board of Public Utilities filed complaints against three power suppliers for deceptive business practices including slamming. Those companies settled for almost $8 million in restitution.