Proton Energy, the little company that couldn’t, is making headlines again. As detailed by Dave Lieber of the Dallas Morning News, the electric retailer that operates out of a gas station faces an additional $600,000 in fines. That’s on top of the more than $2 million regulators already want from the company.
Texas Public Utility Commission staff accuses Proton and its owner, Ramzan Ali, of committing more than 1,000 rules violations. “Basically, the state says Proton and Ali have done everything wrong that an electric company can do,” writes Lieber, a longtime consumer watchdog.
Proton Energy operates out of a Shell gasoline station on Jacksboro Highway in Fort Worth. Regulators have cited it for everything from marketing violations to breaking rules involving billing and disconnections. In its most recent filing, PUC staff alleges the company improperly deleted records.
Proton’s Ali denies the accusations, saying his small company is always looking out for the little guy. In an interview with Lieber, Ali says he markets electricity only through word of mouth. Ali said he charges low rates and is available at night to talk to customers and even texts them warnings about overdue bills.
“I don’t see any reason why we should close the business — to the best of my knowledge, we have done everything right, and there’s been no fraud to customers,” he told Lieber.
The PUC has a different story, claiming Proton has an “apathy toward compliance” and “a pattern of failure.”
Ali has hired former PUC general counsel Bob Rima to defend the company before the agency. A hearing has been called for June 20th.
You can read more about Proton here.
Is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.