Contractors urged to use caution

Small contractors in the San Joaquin Valley are getting requests from marketing companies asking them to become representatives of independent energy providers doing business under California’s partial revival of direct access, which allows some commercial and industrial customers to buy energy from non-utility suppliers.

The pitch is enticing: For a fee (some have reported it as $350), the contractor becomes a sales representative of the energy provider. In some cases, the representative, after paying the enrollment fee, has the opportunity to buy a personal Web site, make personal membership sales and build their own team.

The Better Business Bureau considers this to be a multi-level marketing company. “Consumers should proceed with caution when dealing with this type of company,” the BBB says.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization advises anybody considering aligning themselves with this type of company to check out the businesses with agencies such as the Better Business Bureau and consumer Web sites, such as Ripoff Report or Complaints Board.