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Penn Twp. police crack down on electric firm after solicitation complaints

Paul Peirce
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 3:03 p.m.

Numerous complaints from Penn Township residents about an electric utility provider's door-to-door sales pitch prompted police Thursday to revoke the solicitation permit of Inspire Energy and Iron City Executives, its marketing firm.

Inspire Energy, which lists corporate offices in Philadelphia, obtained a solicitation permit “a couple of weeks ago, and the complaints from residents immediately started to come in,” police Chief John Otto said.

Iron City Executive employees were going door-to-door seeking residents to switch their electric utility supplier to Inspire, he said.

“But it's been one thing after another. ... Many of the representatives are pushy, some of the representatives refuse to show residents their (solicitation) permits. They ask to see residents' electric utility bills and pull the bills right out of their hands, and then some even return the next day,” Otto said. “Enough is enough.”

Denise Schenasi, an Inspire Energy representative, said the company is “actively looking into the situation.”

“Our mission at Inspire is to educate consumers on the benefits of clean power,” she said. “We train our Inspire representatives in neighborhoods to engage positively with consumers and take all complaints very seriously.”

Otto said he ordered revocation of the permit effective immediately due to “numerous and consistent complaints of inappropriate behavior by Inspire Energy employees while on our residents' property.”

He said the utility has been directed to stop all soliciting within the township, and any resident who is approached should call 911 to contact police.

According to local code, anyone soliciting in the township without a valid permit could be fined up to $600 plus court costs, if convicted.

A phone message left with Iron City Executive offices in Pittsburgh was not immediately returned.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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