Tara Energy Joint Complaint, an Example of Electric Customer Litigation

To read the latest news on one of the last court cases facing Tara Energy you can click below and read several documents on the Public Utility Commission of Texas website. Tara Energy settled out of court with all litigations they faced that we are aware of except this one. This appears to be going all the way to a final verdict. Update (August 12 2008) The Greater Houston Retailer Association has decided to settle out of court with Tara Energy. This represents the last known court case against Tara Energy and it looks like it will be settled out of court just like all the other cases. This is the court case between The Greater Houston Retailer Association of Texas and Tara Energy. Court Case Click login and in the “control number” field type 33967

Consumer Protection Rules, Who is Protected?

When an electric provider fails to meet customer protection rules as established by the Public Utility Commission they can be pursued in the court systems by filing a complaint with the PUCT. Filing a complaint against an electric company is not a simple undertaking for commercial energy consumers. Be prepared to have to go to court and even be drug through for several months and sometimes years. Not all Texas electric companies will admit to wrong doing immediately. If a Texas electric company admits to raising their electric rate on their commercial customers without proper notice they have then set a precedent which could allow multiple customers who have been affected in the same way to file suit and easily win. If you are a residential electric customer it can be much easier to complain and win against a provider.

Electric Company Violations Against PUCT Rules

Most people are familiar with the recent electric customer consumer violations by National Power Company and Riverway Power that were filed by numerous customers of these energy companies. These Texas energy companies raised their customers fixed energy rates without proper notice and against their terms of service in their contracts. We also saw Pre-Buy Electric and Etricity go out of business for other reasons like bad execution. The customers of these Texas power companies were forced onto the Provider of Last Resort so they would not be without service during the heat of the summer. The issue is that many of these electric customers are now paying between 20 – 30 cents a kWh for their electricity now until they go shopping again.

Rules are Different for Commercial Customers

For a residential electric customer you have many consumer protection laws in place to keep an energy company from raising your electric rate on you without your permission. If you locked into a fixed electric rate contract and your energy company raises that rate you can easily win the case that your contract was not honored. A simple complaint form filled out and filed with the PUCT is usually all that is needed. This is not the case if you are a commercial energy customer in Texas. The consumer protection laws in place to help the little guy do not apply for commercial industrial energy customers. If you are a Texas business you need to be prepared to potentially be drug through the court system for some time before some type of decision is reached. Be prepared to hire an attorney and have them fight your agrument as you will many times be counter-sued by your electric company. If your electric company raised your fixed electric rate on you they could have very likely raised it on several other customers as well. If all of their customers fought them and won they would very likely go out of business.

Tara Energy Customers Complain about Rate Hike

Tara Energy serves as a good example of an energy company that according to their commercial customers has raised their fixed electric rates on their customers during the term of their contract. The debate is still out as to whether Tara Energy broke any contract terms as all of their court cases have been settled out of court although not after months of being drug through the court systems. What exactly their customers received in the settlement is not disclosed as they are under some type of confidentiality agreement. You can use your imagination to determine what their customers might have received to stop the fight and go ahead and settle.

Updated information on ongoing court case between the Greater Houston Retailer Association and Tara Energy. This testimony is a good example of the issue between several Tara Energy customers and Tara Energy: Tara Energy Testimony

Here is another Testimony from an energy consultant on behalf of multiple Tara Energy customers. I highly recommend any past or potential future Tara Energy customer read this testimony: Testimony against Tara Energy

One of their larger court cases that was settled out of court is listed below. You can read the actual court documents and what the arguments and counter arguments amounted to. This is a great piece of Texas historical electricity litigation that might prove useful if this type of thing happens in the future. As you read it you will see that it was taken through court from November 2007 – February 2008. It was handled in just a few months but several court cases prior to this took around a year. If you don’t have a good attorney plan on hiring one if you decide to contest a broken fixed electric rate contract. I assume not all Texas electric providers would take their customers through court for months but this would be a worse case scenario if you were going to contest a hike in a fixed commercial electric rate contract. Ultimately this case was settled out of court by Tara Energy and the complaintant with no indication of what the settlement was. If Tara Energy would have lost this case it could have created a precendent which would have made it easy for other Tara Energy customers to complain on the same grounds and win. Because Tara Energy settled out of court any commercial energy customer who wanted to complain on the same grounds in the future would have to take their complaint back through the court systems through a lengthy expensive court battle. You can view the court documents by clicking on the hyperlink number below for each court document you would like to read.

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