Viridian energy facing state investigation

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NEW BRITAIN- The state is launching an investigation into Stamford-based Viridian Energy after receiving consumer complaints.

FoxCT News spent months looking into Viridian and uncovered a pattern of complaints against the company in a report that aired February 25th.

The State of Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has “reopened the docket” on Viridian to review the company’s contracts, contract renewal, customer notification and enrollment procedures.

The authority said:

The Authority has received complaints regarding the assessment of early termination fees by Viridian. Specifically, consumers allege that Viridian automatically renewed customers to a fixed rate contract at the end of a previous contract without  customer consent or authorization. If the customers then left Viridian by switching to another supplier or returning to Standard Service during the term of the renewed contract, Viridian assessed an early termination fee on the grounds that the early termination fee provision was contained in the renewed contract.

Viridian issued the following statement:

“Viridian Energy looks forward to our meeting with the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) this Friday and to the ongoing clarification we receive from PURA as part of our close working relationship. Viridian is deeply committed to providing the greatest possible value for Connecticut consumers in a manner that is fully compliant with both PURA standards and state law.”

PURA received more than 100 complaints from Viridian customers since 2012. Nationally, the Better Business Bureau’s received 172 complaints against Viridian in the same time span.

In 2013, a now-shuttered former sister company of Viridian called Power Power shelled out more than $41,000 to Connecticut customers with rate disputes to settle a case brought by PURA.

In 2012, the state of Maryland fined Viridian $60,000 for “false and deceptive marketing practices.” Maryland’s utility regulator told Fox CT they’ve received 125 complaints about Viridian since the start of 2014.

Then, just a few months ago, also in Maryland, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Viridian and it’s parent company, Crius Energy. The suit claims Viridian uses a “fraudulent and deceptive bait-and-switch sales model” and that Viridian associates “form a retail pyramid” that yielded the company a 30 percent profit margin in 2014, to the tune of $33.7 million.

Viridian’s President, Meredith Berkich, made the following statements during a previous interview with FoxCT:

We are in the business of making our customers happy and providing value–we have a lot of very happy customers and we’re providing great value to them… how I would characterize any complaints that come is that they’re addressed and that we’re vindicated. Viridian has been vindicated, and we will be vindicated we believe, in this one that’s on the table right now.

Viridian is scheduled to appear before PURA at 9:30am Friday March 13th in New Britain to discuss the scope of the probe and clarify legal matters.