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The Maryland Public Service Commission has ordered NCG Energy Solutions to pay a $150,000 civil penalty for its failure to apply for a license to broker power contracts in the state, and for "material false statements" on the license application it finally did submit.

NCG, a Trenton, N.J.-based energy brokerage, was the subject of a raucous hearing before the PSC in May, where former employees claimed to have been ripped off and told commissioners that several of NCG's top executives were ex-cons. Turns out founder and CEO Christoper Kent was convicted in 1988 of bank fraud, and NCG's lawyer also admitted that the company had operated for nearly two years without a license. The commission told NCG to cease Maryland operations--but to honor existing contracts. NCG later withdrew its license application. NCG in its license application said it operated only in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. But the company also operated without a license in Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., the commission found.

Just for operating without a Maryland license, the company faced a potential fine in excess of $7 million. NCG's lawyer argued that none of NCG's Maryland customers had been harmed, and the PSC did not find evidence to the contrary. NCG's lawyer also argued that the PSC "should consider the number of unlicensed brokers and suppliers presently operating in Maryland," an argument that suggests the state's licensing system for these power middlemen is less than rigorous.

The PSC fined NCG about $200 for every day it operated unlicensed, plus "an approximation of the public service assessments that should have been collected."


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