Natural gas supplier accused of forging B.C. contracts
Ontario-based Active Energy under investigation for 24 complaints in B.C.
Posted: Apr 30, 2012 8:02 AM PT
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2012 9:34 PM PT
A natural gas supplier is facing allegations it forged the signatures of up to 24 customers to sign them up on contacts they never agreed to.
Ontario-based Active Energy buys bulk gas then resells it to customers in four provinces: B.C., Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
'My bill went from approximately $50 to $400, and that caught my attention,'—Cranbrook business owner Kathy Simon
But the owners of two dozen B.C. businesses, including pharmacies, pubs, even funeral homes from Richmond to Prince George are now accusing Active Energy of misrepresentation and forgery.
Kathy Simon, who runs a Cranbrook health food store, alleges someone with Active Energy fraudulently signed her up for a three-year contract.
"I never even saw an agent in my store. If I was signed up to a contract that I never signed, how many other people are involved in this kind of forgery and fraudulent activity? There's got to be more than me."
Simon became concerned with her gas bill when it shot through the roof last fall.
"In October we had a cold snap set in and my bill went from approximately $50 to $400, and that caught my attention," she told CBC News.
When Simon checked the fine print on her gas bill she noticed she was paying a third party gas provider — Active Energy based in Burlington, Ontario.
RCMP and BCUC investigate complaints
She told CBC News she had never heard of Active Energy, but soon discovered they claimed to have a contract she signed with them.Some B.C. natural gas customers say they have been fraudulently signed up for contracts. (CBC)
"To my surprise it was initialled and signed. But it wasn't my signature, it wasn't my initials. I looked at that contract and said this is a forgery," she alleged.
Simon complained to the BC Utilities Commission, which said they and the RCMP are already investigating many similar complaints lodged over the past six months.
BCUC director Mark Thomas points out they are just allegations at this point and have not been proven, but noted Active Energy has had previous violations with regulators
"These allegations are quite shocking. Between November and February of this year we received 24 complaints or allegations of forgery."Simon said company officials told her the employee involved in the disputed contracts had since been dismissed, but officials with Active Energy said they would not comment while the investigations are underway.
In 2007 the B.C. government deregulated the natural gas to allow several independent companies to sell natural gas contracts to consumers.
The customers still use the existing Fortis Gas infrastructure, but are billed at rates set by the independent contractors.
Thousands of B.C. residents who switched to the new natural gas providers after deregulation ended paying significantly more than market rates after signing the multi-year contracts.
In recent years, a huge supply of the fuel from the United States has flooded the North American market.
Latest British Columbia News Headlines
- Retired police officer killed in Mexico remembered as animal lover
- A CFL player says a Vancouver woman killed in Mexico earlier this week will be remembered as a loving and generous person who loved animals. more »
- Body found inside burning van in East Vancouver
- Police are investigating after a man's body was found inside a burning van in East Vancouver Saturday morning. more »
- Hundreds come out for Abbotsford's first pride march
- About two hundred people came out on Saturday for the first ever Fraser Valley Pride parade in Abbotsford, B.C., a city with deep religious roots. more »
- Border traffic light after Washington bridge collapse
- Traffic was flowing smoothly at the Canada-U.S. border Saturday, after a bridge collapsed along a major transportation route between Vancouver and Seattle Thursday night. more »
Top News Headlines
- 3 more suspects arrested in slaying of U.K. soldier
- British police investigating the savage killing of an off-duty soldier in London have arrested three more suspects. more »
- Hockey Canada votes to ban bodychecking in peewee hockey
- Hockey Canada's board of directors voted to eliminate bodychecking from peewee-level hockey on Saturday in Charlottetown. more »
- Neil Macdonald: How serious is Obama about curbing the drone surge?
- In a key speech this week, the U.S. president set out a host of supposed new safeguards for America's controversial practice of remote-controlled rough justice. But as Neil Macdonald writes, the underlying rationale for drone use has not fundamentally changed. more »
- Ontario man lost in Australian mountains has survival skills
- The sister of an Ontario man who disappeared in Australia's Snowy Mountains nearly two weeks ago says she remains hopeful he will be found, partly because of his training as a Canadian Forces reservist. more »
- McDonald's CEO chastised by 9-year-old B.C. girl
- Dog snared on baited hooks near Vancouver's Grouse Grind trail
- UBC student took 'nose dive into water' after bridge collapse
- Motorists warned to avoid Washington bridge collapse area
- Body found inside burning van in East Vancouver
- Vancouver man abandons Porsche on B.C. ferry
- VIDEO: Cruise ship chaos kicks off season in Vancouver
- Railway conduit planned to ship oilsands bitumen
- Washington police blame bridge collapse on Alberta trucker