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January 9, 2020

Federal

President Trump signs Robocall TRACED Act

On December 30, 2019 President Donald Trump signed S. 151, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act after Congress approved the bill earlier in the month to give the federal government new abilities to go after illegal robocalls. Fines can now reach $10,000 per call. The law also requires major carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile to use a new technology called STIR/SHAKEN to help customers know if they’re being targeted by a robocall with a spoofed number.

Among other things, the federal TRACED Act

    • Requires voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies such as STIR/SHAKEN, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
    • Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers.
    • Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking process to protect consumers from 'one-ring' scams.
    • Broadens the authority of the FCC to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on people who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.
    • Extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to four years after a robocall is placed. Under current law, the FCC has only one year to take such action.

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Illinois

Save the Date – January 22, 2020 from 1:00-4:00 PM

The ICC's Office of Retail Market Development is preparing for an upcoming policy session on the Retail Supplier Market to provide suppliers and interested parties the opportunity to present information about the marketplace to the Commission. The three panels will cover Part 412, Consumer Education, and Marketing Practices.

A formal agenda will be forthcoming.

Meeting location: 160 N. LaSalle, 8th Floor, Video Conference Room, Chicago, IL 60601

 

Save the Date – January 23, 2020 from 9:00AM-1:00 PM

Parties in Docket (17-0587) are schedule to meet (natural gas rulemaking) scheduled from 9:00AM – 1:00 PM
Meeting location: 160 N. LaSalle, 8th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601

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Maryland

Commission Posts Quarterly Retail Energy Supplier Complaint Report

The Maryland Public Service Commission says that issuing such complaint reports “will assist customers shopping for an energy supplier to make informed decisions regarding the selection of a supplier or to follow up on a contact made by a supplier agent."

These reports are located at: Quarterly Retail Energy Supplier Complaint Report. Monthly and cumulative totals of complaints received during the year will be reported along with an identification of the type of issue(s) alleged in the complaints, as well as how each complaint has been resolved. These quarterly reports will include raw data for any retail energy suppliers that receive three or more complaints in a given month. During 2019, the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Division (CAD) received more than 700 complaints involving retail energy suppliers.

The Chairman further stated that "Maryland’s competitive energy marketplace empowers customers to choose a supplier that best meets their energy needs, but we are increasingly concerned about those suppliers who don’t play by the rules." The Chairman went on to say that, "We believe that posting complaint numbers, similar to what is done in other states such as New York, will hold suppliers accountable and provide greater transparency to the public, consumer advocates, and legislators. While these numbers don’t tell the whole story of customers’ experiences with a supplier, it’s one more piece of information that consumers can consider when shopping for an energy supplier."

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Massachusetts

Supplier Agrees To $10M Civil Action Settlement With Attorney General

On December 17, 2019, in Case 18-12608-MFW an Order was issued granting the Motion of Starion Energy, approving Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Massachusetts Attorney Generals Office to resolve a civil action brought against Starion. Under the MOU the company agrees to make changes to its marketing and pricing practices and pay up to a $10 million civil penalty, including $6 million to be paid by December 31, 2019 in restitution to Massachusetts residential customers to resolve claims the company used deceptive business practices and violated state telemarketing regulations.

See also: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Starion Energy, Inc., et. al., CA No. 2018-3199-H, currently pending in Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts, as well as a Chapter 11 proceeding with a docket number of 18-12608-MFW and an accompanying adversary proceeding captioned Starion Energy, Inc. et. al. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al., Adversary Case No. 18-50932-MFW, currently pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

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New Hampshire

PUC Considers Reducing Retail Suppliers' RPS Obligation Due To Lack Of RECs

In Docket DE 19-203, the New Hampshire Commission said that it, "has determined that New Hampshire electricity providers may not be able to procure sufficient renewable energy certificates (RECs) to comply with New Hampshire's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements under RSA 362-F." "Reports of temporary or permanent closure of multiple Class III certified biomass facilities suggest that electricity providers may not be able to procure sufficient Class Ill RECs to satisfy Class III requirements for compliance year 2019. In particular, the Commission has received documentation from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services indicating that a number of Class III certified biomass facilities have suspended operations for extended periods during 2019. The combined capacity of the affected facilities represents approximately 30% of the total capacity of certified Class III facilities, indicating that their suspended operations may have a significant impact on the availability of 2019 Class III RECs," the PUC said.

As a result, the Commission announced that it will hold a public comment hearing on Monday, January 13, 2020 to gather information regarding the 2019 annual electric generation output of certified Class III eligible sources, the corresponding availability of New Hampshire Class III RECs, and the demand for New Hampshire Class III RECs based on market conditions for compliance year 2019.

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New York

Save the Date – January 22, 2020
NY PSC Schedules Technical Conference Regarding Compliance with ESCO Reset Order.

The New York Department of Public Service announced that it will host a technical conference on January 22, 2020, to discuss compliance with the Commission’s ESCO Reset Order issued in Cases 15-M-0127 et al.

The DPS said that interested stakeholders are "strongly encouraged" to submit questions about the December 12, 2019 Order by email by January 17, 2020, to an address listed in the December 26 notice issued in Cases 15-M-0127 et al.

 

New York Governor Announces Enhanced Robocall Legislation

As part of the governor’s 2020 State of the State agenda, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced, "a comprehensive proposal to fight incessant robocalls or nuisance calls." Many of the proposals would mirror the new federal TRACED Act signed into law by President Trump which impose stricter fines and gives authorities more enforcement powers.

 

Mark Your Calendar – NY Data Security Agreement & Self-Attestation Due

On December 16, 2019, the Joint Utilities filed an updated Data Security Agreement (DSA) and accompanying Self-Attestation (SA) as required by the Commission's October 17, 2019 Order Establishing Minimum Cybersecurity and Privacy Protections and Making Other Findings. The Joint Utilities previously advised that the DSA would be sent to ESEs for execution shortly after it was filed. The executed DSA were due by January 6, 2020

Each utility has sent each ESCO a Self-Attestation, that should be returned to each utility by January 6, 2020. To expedite the process, the utilities are sending out pre-signed DSAs ESCOs Must Sign DSA and SA without any modifications.

In Case 18-M-0376, et. al(Proceeding on Motion of the Commission Regarding Cyber Security Protocols and Protections in the Energy Market Place)the Commission Ordered the following:

    1. Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, National Fuel Gas Distribution CASE 18-M-0376 et al. Corporation, The Brooklyn Union Gas Company d/b/a National Grid NY, KeySpan Gas East Corporation d/b/a National Grid, and Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation d/b/a National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas Corporation, and Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation are directed to, within 60 days from the date of this Order, file a revised Data Security Agreement and Self Attestation consistent with the discussion in the body of this Order.
    2. Energy Service Entities seeking access to customer data through utility IT systems shall be required to execute a Data Security Agreement and Self Attestation as revised in conformance with Ordering Clause No. 1 as a prerequisite of accessing such customer data.

 

Latest Commission Complaint Tracker Shows Decline In ESCO Complaints

The number of initial complaints received by the New York DPS against ESCOs declined for the third consecutive month in November 2019, according to a DPS report. For November 2019, initial complaints received against ESCOs were a total of 95, versus 117 in October 2019, 140 in September 2019, and 143 in August 2019. See complaint tracker here: Complaint Tracker.

 

Commission Revokes ESCO’s Eligibility to Serve Customers

In Case 16-M-0618, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order revoking Atlantic Power & Gas’ eligibility to serve customers in the State of New York. Among other things the PSC Order found that AP&G violated the Uniform Business Practices (UBP) through the company’s failure to properly cancel the customers’ pending enrollment on their behalf, as required under UBP §§ 5.D.6 and 5.K.3.

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Ohio

Quarterly Market Monitoring Report Is Due Within Next 30 Days

Ohio Administrative Code 4901:1-25-02 requires electric utilities, power marketers, power brokers, aggregators and governmental aggregators to report monthly market monitoring information to the PUCO on a quarterly basis.

Please download the broker form here and email it to MarketMonitoring@puco.ohio.gov.

The broker form applies only to organizations with power broker as the sole designation on their PUCO certificate. All others are required to use the online application.

Note: If you are a power broker certified to provide multiple competitive retail electric services and already file a report in the online application, you do not need to submit a separate broker form.

 

Utility Tariff Revisions Include SCO Recordkeeping and Call Reporting Requirements

Per PUCO direction in Case 19-2239-GA-ATA, Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio, Inc. filed tariff revisions to its Supplier Coordination Tariff whereby the Commission order required additional record keeping and reporting for calls from Standard Choice Offer (SCO) Customers that are transferred to SCO Suppliers.

Vectren’s filed revisions include the following reportin requirement provisions concerning SCO Supplier Terms and Conditions:

    • SCO Supplier shall maintain records of SCO Customer sales where the solicitation is made directly following any SCO Customer call transferred to the SCO Supplier by the Company. A 'sale' or 'solicitation' is defined as any agreement by the SCO Customer with the SCO Supplier for non-SCO commodity service (i.e., Choice service provided under Rate Schedules 315 or 325). A solicitation is made directly if the representative of the SCO Supplier to whom the call is transferred either:

o makes the solicitation, or
o transfers the SCO Customer to a sales representative or agent who makes the solicitation.

    • These records shall include the following information:

o SCO Customer name,
o Address,
o Account number,
o Contract price,
o Contract term,
o Type of contract (i.e., fixed, variable, introductory, or other appropriate description),
o Termination fee, if any, as well as
o A recording of the full sales call. These records shall be made available to PUCO Staff by the SCO Supplier upon request.

  • Each SCO Supplier is also required to provide a monthly report to the Company on the number of sales made following the transfer of a call under this provision, and
  • The Company shall provide PUCO Staff with a quarterly report including the number of sales, by SCO Supplier, made each quarter following the transfer of a call.

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