Assembly Passes Legislation Establishing Telemarketing Standards for Energy Service Companies

Bill Creates a Telemarketing Opt-Out Registry for Energy Consumers

Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Steven Otis today announced the passage of legislation that would protect energy consumers by enacting telemarketing standards for energy services companies (ESCOs) and calling for the creation of a telemarketing opt-out registry for energy customers (A.8164-B, Otis).

“Customers should be able to rely on energy service companies to provide them with high quality, fundamental services in order to keep their homes running and their businesses open without worrying about whether or not they are being deceived,” Speaker Silver said. “This legislation keeps these companies accountable to the customers they serve and enacts serious penalties for those companies that engage in predatory and deceitful marketing practices.”

“Unfortunately ESCOs often rely on unclear and aggressive telemarketing tactics that confuse customers and make it much easier for companies to engage in predatory behavior,” Otis said. “The measure is a much-needed safeguard that empowers consumers by allowing them to opt-out of ESCO telemarketing calls and offers up strict penalties to deter these organizations from engaging in abusive marketing practices in the first place.”

In addition to establishing the ESCO telemarketing opt-out registry for consumers, this measure calls for the creation of telemarketing standards for energy service companies or energy service company marketing representatives, including requirements to:

  • remove customers from an ESCO marketing database upon request;
  • require ESCO marketing representatives to provide their name, the name of the company they are working for and the reason for their phone call;
  • clarify that contracting with an ESCO in order to supply energy services will not affect a consumer’s existing relationship with their current utility provider;
  • transfer customers to a representative who speaks the customer’s primary language or otherwise terminate the call;
  • use independent third party verification that has been approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to enroll a customer; and
  • prohibit ESCO marketing representatives from making the claim that their company is acting on behalf of a utility company.

Additionally, the legislation authorizes the PSC to assess a financial penalty for any ESCO that knowingly violates or fails to comply with the above standards.