Attorney General Tong Announces $1.8 Million Settlement with Eversource Over Unfair and Deceptive Natural Gas Marketing Allegations(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today announced a $1.8 million settlement with Eversource over alleged false and deceptive high-pressure tactics seeking to entice consumers to convert to natural gas.
“Eversource misled homeowners to get them to switch to natural gas. These high-pressure tactics are unacceptable coming from any business, much less a regulated utility. Eversource has already paid a $1.8 million civil penalty imposed by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), and now they will pay an additional $1.8 million to settle these serious consumer protection allegations,” said Attorney General Tong.
Attorney General Tong opened an investigation following a report by Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie exposing notices from Eversource claiming homeowners would be unable to connect to natural gas once their road had been resurfaced due to a “paving moratorium.” The notices claimed, “Once your road has been resurfaced, it will be several years before the pavement can be opened again due to the town’s paving moratorium. We will not be able to provide a gas service line to your home during the moratorium. If your current heating equipment fails, or if you decide to install natural gas for any other reason after this deadline, you will not be able to connect to natural gas.”
Attorney General Tong and the Office of Consumer Counsel filed a petition with PURA seeking an investigation there, resulting in PURA imposing a $1.8 million civil penalty in 2021 for Eversource’s alleged failure to disclose whether certain gas expansion solicitations were funded by shareholders, ratepayers, or both. The Office of the Attorney General conducted its own investigation into whether Eversource’s claims were false and misleading, identifying multiple towns where no-such paving moratoria existed.
Today’s settlement addresses alleged violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act regarding unfair and deceptive marketing practices not previously covered by PURA’s penalty. Through today’s $1.8 million settlement, Eversource must pay $1.6 million to Operation Fuel to assist low-income ratepayers and $200,000 to the Attorney General for consumer education and enforcement purposes. Between PURA’s prior penalty and today’s additional $1.8 million settlement, Eversource must now pay a total of $3.6 million regarding these solicitations.
Legal Investigator Caylee Ribeiro, Assistant Attorneys General Lauren Bidra and John Wright, and Deputy Associate Attorney General Michael Wertheimer, Chief of the Consumer Protection Section, assisted the Attorney General in this matter.