NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A series of filings before the state public utility commission, obtained by News4 Investigates, show the attorney general’s office questioning if Piedmont customers were unfairly charged in 2021 as the result of a winter storm in February that disrupted natural gas supply and rates across the nation.
“Sometimes we have questions to ask. And that's what's going on here,” Samantha Fisher, communications director for the state attorney general’s office said.
The inquiries began with a winter storm in February 2021 that resulted in a power crisis. People in Texas went without heat for days. Natural gas lines froze in Texas, which created a supply shortage, as that state is a major supplier of natural gas nationwide including to Tennessee.
That crisis led the attorney general’s office to send a letter to the Tennessee Public Utility Commission in November 2021, citing in part, "Piedmont’s actions during the February energy crisis led to higher gas costs, now requested to be recovered from its sales customers."
“If there's a spike in the rate, we want to take a look at how they determine that. And makes sure it's been fair for consumers,” Fisher said.
The attorney general’s office wants the commission to defer a $1.6 million dollar incentive that piedmont is scheduled to receive for saving customers’ money, until the commission completes its reviews.
In December 2021, Piedmont fired back with a letter, writing that it disagrees with the substance of the attorney’s general’s allegations and disputes that customers were harmed.
A spokesman for Piedmont denied our request for an interview, but did send a statement reading in part,
“We disagree with the legitimacy of the Consumer Advocate’s assertions. While we can understand their concern, as the natural gas market experienced unprecedented volatility during last year’s storm, we are confident the TPUC will determine Piedmont provided excellent stewardship to our customers, consistent with all applicable rules and regulations of the TPUC, during the period in review, which is July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.”
News4 Investigates will continue to follow this dispute and will bring updates on if the commission takes any action.