Judge puts hold on crackdown on New York’s energy companies

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A crackdown from the state on energy service companies crossed the line, at least according to a New York judge.

A state judge issued a temporary restraining order to sort out new rules imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office on energy service companies, a move those companies applauded.

Bruce Heine, senior vice president at National Fuel Resources, said his company was relieved, as they offer customers multiple options for purchasing their utilities.

Customers who have been burned say they didn’t necessarily disagree with the new rules, which would restrict service companies to offering discount guaranteed packages.

“They told me it would be cheaper for me to sign with them, that my electric and gas would go down,” Carol Hangen, an energy service company customer, said.

Hangen’s bills at year-end were about $800 higher than she had previously been paying, however.

“The average energy services company customer — and that includes both residential and small businesses — were paying 14 percent more than if they had stayed with their traditional gas and electric company,” AARP utilities expert Bill Armbruste said.

Energy service company providers say they offer discount guaranteed packages, but also have other options, and would suffer if forced to only offer discount guaranteed packages.

“It will cause many marketers to go out of business,” Heine said. “It will cause some marketers to no longer serve residential and small commercial customers.”

Heine says other offerings by the company are popular, and would be gone under the new set of rules.

Large commercial and industrial companies saved when they used service companies, but smaller residential customers suffered.

The restraining order will continue at least until April 14.

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