Just Energy

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Just Energy Group Inc.
Public
Traded as TSXJE
NYSEJE
Industry Energy Marketing
Founded 1997
Headquarters Mississauga, Ontario, CA,
Houston, Texas, USA
Key people
Rebecca MacDonald (Executive Chair)
James Lewis (co-CEO)
Deborah Merril (co-CEO)
Products Natural Gas, Electricity
Number of employees
1,000+ (December 2011)[1]
Website www.justenergy.com

Just Energy Group Inc. (formerly Just Energy Income Fund and previously to that Energy Savings Income Fund) is a Canadian-based natural gas and electricity retailer operating in Canadian and American markets across North America and in the United Kingdom.

Operations[edit]

Just Energy is a publicly traded company (TSX:JE, NYSE:JE) and serves 4.5 million customers[2] collectively under its affiliate companies Just Energy, Hudson Energy, Commerce Energy, Tara Energy, Amigo Energy, Momentis, Hudson Energy Solar, Green Star Energy, and Terra Grain Fuels. The company was listed and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on January 30, 2012 (NYSE:JE) and entered the European commercial energy market in July 2012 under its Hudson Energy UK brand.[3] In October 2013, the company expanded into the UK residential market under the Green Star Energy brand.

Just Energy's business involves the sale of natural gas and/or electricity supply to residential and commercial customers under long term fixed price, price-protected or variable-priced contracts and green energy products.[4] The company derives its margin or gross profit from the difference between the price at which it is able to sell the commodities to its customers and the related price at which it purchases the associated volumes from its suppliers.[5]

Markets[edit]

Just Energy supplies natural gas and/or electricity in New York, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Delaware, Ohio, Michigan, California, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the United States; Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in Canada; and in the United Kingdom.

Name change[edit]

In 2009, the company undertook a rebranding campaign from Energy Savings Income Fund and U.S Energy Savings, Ontario Energy Savings, Alberta Energy Savings to Just Energy Income Fund across all of its Canadian and U.S. markets. The company incorporated in 2011 and was renamed Just Energy Group.

Acquisitions[edit]

In April 2010, the company expanded its marketing distribution channel and launched a new network marketing arm under the brand, Momentis. The company completed the acquisition of Toronto-based direct energy marketer Universal Energy Corporation on July 1, 2009.[6] From that acquisition, Just Energy gained National Home Services.[7] In May 2010, Just Energy acquired Hudson Energy Group, an energy marketer in the U.S. commercial sector. In August 2011, Just Energy announced a deal to acquire Fulcrum Retail Holdings LLC, a privately held electricity provider operating in Texas.[8] In July 2012, the company entered the European commercial energy market and began marketing in the UK under its Hudson Energy Supply UK Ltd. brand.[3] In October 2013, the company expanded into the UK residential market under the Green Star Energy brand.

Controversies[edit]

The Better Business Bureau has given Just Energy a "F" rating, and provides the following information:

BBB files indicate that this business has a large volume and pattern of complaints concerning misleading sales practices. Consumer complaints allege that door to door sales persons are misleading consumers, providing false information and using high pressure sales tactics. This company has been notified of our concerns. They have failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints.[9]

June 2003 - The Toronto Star reported that both Direct Energy and the Ontario Energy Savings Corp., a subsidiary of the Energy Savings Income Fund, had been charged with fraud as a result of its agents having forged energy contracts and had been fined. Ontario Energy Savings Corp. defended these charges by stating that the forgery was a result of individual agents, and not indicative of the way the company conducts business.[10]

July 2008 - The Attorney General of New York state brought action against U.S Energy Savings (now Just Energy) for deceptive sales practices. The company was obliged to pay $200,000 in penalties and costs to the state.[11]

"U.S. Energy Savings (now Just Energy) is purposely deceiving consumers," Attorney General Madigan said. "Many of these families signed up for this program based on the false claim that they would save on their monthly utility bills. Instead, U.S. Energy locked them into a contract that actually charged them more for natural gas." [12] 2010 - Three former Just Energy salespeople were alleged to have secured contracts by fraudulent means.[13][14]

In response to criticism, Just Energy's CEO Ken Hartwick said in an interview with Report on Business magazine in 2013 that Just Energy dropped the savings claim years ago. Hartwick claims the company has taken steps to ensure that consumers know that they are purchasing what equates to an insurance product. He further claims all sales are followed up with a verification phone call by a third party to mitigate against any aggressive sales tactics.[5] However, Just Energy salespeople are still making claims of savings, despite the vast majority of customers paying more.[15][16] Since Hartwick's claim, Just Energy has been cited by the Ontario Energy Board in November, 2013 and November, 2014, and by the Attorney General of Massachusetts in January, 2015, for continued infractions, including widespread deceptive sales practices.[9]

Rebecca MacDonald, Just Energy's Executive Chair, has been accused of falsifying her credentials and her biography. Additionally, forensic accounting firms have determined that Just Energy uses questionable accounting practices and has mislead investors as to their financial condition.[15]

Sept 2014 - The police department of Sudbury, Ontario issued a warning to the city's residents regarding the aggressive and illegal door-to-door sales activities of Just Energy sales representatives, and advised contacting the police if salespeople refuse to leave when requested.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Energy Savings Income Fund". Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  2. ^ Justin Loiseau (22 Oct 2013). "2 Dividend Stocks With 12% Yields". Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Lauren Pope (9 May 2012). "Interview with Steve Fitzsimons of new business energy supplier, Hudson Energy". Archived from the original on 11 January 2014. Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  4. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc". Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Bruce Livesay (29 May 2013). "Rebecca MacDonald's Just Energy: Golden era over for gas marketer". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  6. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc. Announces Acquisition of a 15% Interest in ecobee Inc. and Re-Institutes Drip Program for September 30, 2012 Cash Dividend". 29 Aug 2012. 
  7. ^ "National Home Services". Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  8. ^ "Just Energy Group Inc. Announces Agreement to Acquire Fulcrum Retail Holdings LLC". Reuters. 25 Aug 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Just Energy Group Inc". Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  10. ^ John Spears (21 Jun 2003). "Energy marketers fined over forgeries". Toronto Star. 
  11. ^ "Attorney General Cuomo Stops Wny Natural Gas Provider From Deceiving Consumers By Misrepresenting Service Contracts". Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  12. ^ "MADIGAN FILES SUIT AGAINST U.S. ENERGY SAVINGS CORP.". 
  13. ^ Richard Liebrecht (24 Feb 2010). "Fraud alleged in energy contracts". Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  14. ^ "Energy salespeople charged with faking contracts". CBC News. 24 Feb 2010. Retrieved 14 Jan 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Livesey, Bruce. "Canadian energy company stalked by controversy over its sales methods". Global News. Global News. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  16. ^ JustEnergyGroup (29 July 2015). "Call #JustEnergy toll-free NOW to get the best rates in your area: 1-877-495-4198" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  17. ^ "Beware of aggressive door-to-door sales people, police warn". Northern Life. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 

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External links[edit]

  • ^ ag2
  • ^ cub2