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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blumenthal Wants DPUC To Investigate Positive Energy

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday he wants state utility regulators to investigate Middlebury-based Positive Energy for allegedly falsifying its state license application.
Blumenthal claims a Department of Public Utility Control investigation should so look into whether Positive Energy delayed and diverted contracts, potentially costing customers hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in lost discounts.

Blumenthal's petition to the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control comes just four days after consumer affairs blogger and veteran journalist George Gombossy reported that DPUC officials were apparently unaware that Positive Energy President Joseph Ventura had recently been fined for making false statements in a mortgage application when they gave the company its license to sell electricity to customers in the spring of 2009. Gombossy's blog appears on the New Haven Register's web site,

Blumenthal said Tuesday his office has also learned of allegations from former Positive Energy employees and company investors that Ventura allegedly delayed processing customer requests to switch electricity suppliers in order divert them to another company. If true, as many as 30,000 to 40,000 consumers could have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in discounts, according to Blumenthal.

“These allegations – falsifying a state license application and delaying contracts – are serious and significant, potentially costing consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in discounts,” Blumenthal said. “I urge the DPUC to investigate and take action - license revocation, restitution to consumers and monetary penalties - if warranted by the facts."

Positive Energy is licensed by the state as an electric power aggregator. That means the company buys power from electric generators and resells it at a discount to consumers.

Positive Energy investors met with Blumenthal’s office earlier this month and alleged that Ventura told customers they were signing with supplier Viridian Energy, Inc, but never actually processed the contracts, the Attorney General said. Instead, Ventura waited months until another supplier, ResCom Energy, LLC, received its state license and then signed them with that company, according to the investors.

Ventura responded to Blumenthal's petition to the DPUC with a written statement that was released via the company's public relations firm, Hartford-based Sullivan & LeShane.

“Positive Energy Electricity Supply Company, LLC is a growing Connecticut business with a base of 40,000 customers, the overwhelming majority of whom have been pleased with the savings and service they have received from Positive Energy arranging their electricity supply," Ventura said in his statement. “Despite published reports stating otherwise, Positive Energy gave full and accurate disclosure of each of its current officers and directors when applying to the DPUC to be an electricity aggregator in Connecticut. Additionally, in applying to DPUC, Positive Energy properly disclosed all relevant and pertinent information on its mission for Connecticut and the people involved in it."

Ventura said the fine issued against him by the Connecticut Banking Department "was concerning my personal mortgage loan, and at no time did it involve Positive Energy, its customers, the DPUC, or the state’s electricity market."

“The Attorney General’s allegations concerning delaying of placing customers with suppliers are based on grossly overstated information provided by a terminated employee and a disgruntled investor," Ventura added in his statement. “While we at Positive Energy are confident we can refute all of the Attorney General’s allegations, we also believe an investigation based on the allegations to date would be an unwarranted waste of the DPUC’s time and money, as well as ours. What’s more, it would threaten a growing business that provides a vital service in the emerging energy market to thousands of customers.”

According to the Sunday post on Gombossy's blog, when Positive Energy filed documents with the state's Department of Public Utility Control in Feb. 2009, Ventura was not listed as the head of the company. But by April 2009, when the company had received regulatory approval to become an aggregator of electricity in the state, Ventura was listed as the president of the company, Gombossy wrote.

The Connecticut Department of Banking in 2008 ordered Ventura to pay a $100,000 fine for lying on his mortgage application at a time when he was a mortgage loan officer, according to Gombossy (shown at left).


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