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09/19/2013

PUC seeks to revoke license of Fort Worth-based electricity provider

Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas has recommended revoking the certificate of Fort Worth-based Proton Energy, a retail electric provider that says it has about 2,500 customers. Owner Ramzan R. Ali said he will contest the action, which he said is aimed at driving a small competitor from the market. He said Proton Energy has been in operation about 4 1/2 years. 

According to the PUC staff complaint, Proton has committed more than 1,000 violations of federal and state rules since 2011. More than 400 times, the PUC alleged, Proton disconnected customers for non-payment without providing proper notice. The state regulator also said that at least 288 times Proton improperly placed a switch-hold on a customer, a move that prevents the customer from changing retail electric providers. It said Proton failed numerous times to respond on a timely basis to PUC inquiries regarding customer complaints against the company.

Ali emailed the Star-Telegram a lengthy objection to the PUC complaints, saying Proton gave customers more than the required notice before disconnecting an account. Ali's statement did acknowledge that an employee had mistakenly put switch-holds on some customers who were supposed to be disconnected. He said he fixed his procedure and the error will not  happen again.

Proton has 30 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge, a PUC spokesman said. If such a hearing takes place, the judge would write a "proposal for decision" that would be presented for the PUC board for its approval.

-- Jim Fuquay

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