NIPSCO facing lawsuit from New York supplier

Keywords Lawsuits / New York / utilities
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Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co., or NIPSCO, is the subject of a lawsuit filed by New York-based Bolt Energy Services LLC.

In its complaint, Bolt alleges NIPSCO terminated an agreement between the two without cause that would cost the company millions of dollars in lost profit.

Bolt Energy Services is an independent natural gas provider headquartered in Congers, New York. NIPSCO is listed as a defendant in the suit, along with its parent, NiSource Inc.

In the complaint, Bolt said NIPSCO reached out to the company to take part in its Choice program, in which customers can purchase their natural gas from a certified supplier instead of NIPSCO itself.

Bolt alleges after 3½ years of participation in the program, NIPSCO terminated the agreement, refused to allow Bolt to engage with and enroll new customers, and “is now pressuring Bolt to send its customers to one of NIPSCO’s preferred relationships.”

Per the terms of the agreement, Bolt said, NIPSCO would be allowed to terminate the agreement if Bolt failed to maintain credit worthiness, failed to exercise reasonable efforts to timely respond to a written information request from NIPSCO or failed to comply with any terms of the agreement.

Bolt said none of those conditions were met, and NIPSCO did not identify any cause for terminating the agreement.

The company said it invested nearly $1 million in marketing its participation in NIPSCO’s Choice program and built relationships with more than 2,000 customers. Additionally, Bolt used third-party marketing services to attract customers.

“As a result of NIPSCO’s breach, Plaintiff has experienced and will continue to experience damages in the form of lost customers and income, as well as having paid marketers for customers that were never enrolled because of NIPSCO’s unilateral actions,” Bolt said in the complaint. “NIPSCO has also interfered with Plaintiff’s ability to obtain and confirm future customers.”

Bolt is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block NIPSCO from terminating the agreement. Additionally, the company is asking for an undisclosed amount of damages.

In statement to Inside INdiana Business, a spokesperson for NIPSCO said, “NIPSCO is aware of the pending litigation filed by Bolt Energy but has no comment on this active legal matter at this time.”

A hearing on NIPSCO’s response to the complaint is set for Monday. Judge Suzanne Adams has ruled that pending the hearing, the company is enjoined from taking any action to terminate the agreement and interfering with Bolt’s ability to enroll new customers.

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