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January 28, 2020

Arizona

Mark Your Calendar – Retail Electric Competition Workshops Scheduled.

The Arizona Corporation Commission has scheduled a Stakeholder Meeting and Workshop in Docket R14-2-1601. The meeting and workshop are scheduled for February 25 and February 26. The Commission also scheduled a stakeholder meeting and workshop on the energy rules on March 10-11, 2020.

 

Arizona Chairman Envisions Joint Incentive Energy Storage Program

In Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) rate case in Docket E-01933A-19-0028 Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Robert Burns envisions a joint incentive program for the installation of individual customer energy storage.

"One method that I believe could work to provide such an incentive is for TEP to establish an on-bill, no interest loan program for residential customers to install energy storage systems on their premises," the Chairman’s memo stated. The Chairman went on to say that "[w]ith the above proposal, I think we could all agree that there must be some benefit to TEP and its entire customer base. In order for TEP to have some benefit from the above distributed energy storage installation (that is owned by the customer, not TEP), TEP would need to have some control over the operation of the storage that was funded by the interest-free loan."

"Additionally, …. my proposal is just one method that I believe can incentivize the installation of distributed energy storage. I am sure there are parties to this rate case that can modify/tweak this proposal to make it better. Perhaps there are parties to this case that may have a completely different proposal that would accomplish my same goal. I am open (and hope other Commissioners are also) to other proposals that would incentivize the installation of distributed energy storage that benefits both the utility and its customers," the Chairman continued.

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Connecticut

PURA Seeks RPS Stakeholder Input

In Docket 19-10-26 PURA seeks additional input from suppliers and other stakeholders on the following RPS related topics:

    • Banking RECs - Explain how the rules surrounding banked RECs could be modified to achieve ongoing periodic RPS reporting during a compliance year.
    • Periodic REC Reporting Proposal - The current RPS process does not provide for periodic REC reporting. Instead, the process requires suppliers to only demonstrate compliance on October 15th of the year following a Compliance Year. Suppliers currently employ a variety of strategies to acquire and/or retire RECs, which include taking delivery of RECs for retirement at the end of a compliance year including retiring recently purchased or banked RECs throughout the compliance year or making ACP payments.

o Billing Determinants Proxy - Discuss an alternative process that relies on retail sales (aka billing determinants) as a proxy for ongoing, real-time quarterly RPS compliance. Sales would be used to estimate the RPS compliance obligation for the first three quarters of each RPS Compliance Year. A final, precise determination of each supplier’s RPS obligation based on load settlement data could then be established under current standards.

o Load Settlement Reconciliation -Discuss alternatives to the current final load settlement reconciliation process and timing of that process for consideration.

Quarterly REC Compliance – Does quarterly REC compliance disrupt the current REC market by causing price distortions?

  • Comment if banking of RECs annually and quarterly (e.g., allowing RECs purchased in one year to be used in the next two years and allowing RECs purchased in one quarter to be used in future quarters in the same year or future years), and elimination of the 30% cap, alleviates price distortion concerns.
  • Would tiered, cumulative quarterly compliance (e.g., Q1-25% of estimated load, Q2-50% of cumulative (Q1+Q2), estimated load, Q3-75% of cumulative (Q1+Q2+Q3), estimated load, and, Q4-100% of total resettled load) alleviate price distortion concerns?
  • Are there other methods the Authority could implement with a quarterly reporting scheme that would alleviate price distortion concerns?

The Authority said that it would appreciate responses supported with data regarding the actual number of RECs available vs. RECs needed during past trading and compliance year periods.

 

Draft Decision Strengthens Channel Marketing Requirements

Among other things, PURA’s draft decision in Docket 14-07-20RE01 regarding electric supplier marketing would require "[e]ach Electric Supplier shall record the entirety of all telesales calls and door-to-door marketing lasting ten seconds or longer with all residential customers or potential residential customers, and shall retain such recordings for three years after the date such recording was made."

Moreover, “[w]hen conducting door-to-door calls to all residential customers or potential residential customers, no Electric Supplier may request the account information from a potential customer or request that a potential customer retrieve account information or the potential customer's electric distribution company bill until immediately before the customer or potential customer is being transferred to the TPV, or other means of contract verification indicated by statute."

Similarly, “[w]hen conducting telesales calls to all residential customers or potential residential customers, no Electric Supplier may request the customer’s account information or request that a customer retrieve account information or electric distribution company bill until immediately before the customer or potential customer is being transferred to the TPV, or other means of contract verification indicated by statute."

The draft also provides that, "[n]o telephone solicitor acting on behalf of an Electric Supplier may cause to be installed or may use any blocking device or service to circumvent a consumer’s use of a caller identification service or device. No such telephone solicitor may transmit inaccurate or misleading caller identification information, such as, but not limited to, the EDC name, 'Disconnection', 'Emergency', Electric Choice' or 'Customer Service'. The Electric Supplier shall ensure that the phone number that appears on the customer’s caller identification information is accurate and allows for the customer to call back. It is the responsibility of the Electric Supplier to ensure that all employees, representatives, agents, brokers, vendors, or any individual or group of individuals acting on behalf of or under contract to the supplier are not engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct. If deceptive conduct is discovered, the supplier must immediately notify the Authority in writing within ten (10) business days of discovery of the incident. Such notification shall include a detailed description of the incident, the investigation and the planned resolution."

The draft also states that "[i]t is the responsibility of every Electric Supplier to ensure that any entity or individual marketing and/or acting on behalf of does not engage in false, misleading or deceptive trade practices, nor perform unauthorized switching of customer accounts. If deceptive trade practices are discovered, the Electric Supplier must notify the Authority in writing as soon as possible, but no later than within ten (10) business days of discovery. Such notification shall include a detailed description of the incident, the current state of the investigation, and the planned resolution, with updates as required by the Authority."

 

PURA Proposes Further Modifications to Supplier Amnesty Program

In Docket 18-12-22 the Connecticut PURA has issued a draft decision to further modify how retail electric suppliers are to provide refunds to customers under an amnesty program as well as cost recovery mechanisms.

"In this Decision the Authority modifies the manner in which customer refunds will be distributed. Suppliers will not provide refunds directly to all affected residential customers. Instead, upon approval of an amnesty plan, the supplier will work with each electric distribution company (EDC) to validate current EDC customer accounts. Once the account information is validated, the supplier will forward refund monies for all current accounts to the EDC, which will apply individual refunds as a bill credit to those customers the EDCs are able to locate within their respective billing systems, even if those customers no longer have an active account with the EDC. This will reduce arrearages and, based on the amount of the refund(s) may result in a credit balance for customers. For any inactive accounts where the billing adjustment results in a credit balance to the customer account, the EDCs will follow their current escheatment process. For any account that has been written off, the EDC shall apply the refund to their General Service Charge reserve account for uncollectable funds. Suppliers will be responsible for the refunds and escheatment process for any customer account the EDCs cannot locate within their respective billing systems. Suppliers also will be required to notify all affected customers."

 

PURA to Review Purchase of Receivables

In Docket 20-01-33, the Connecticut PURA initiated “Review of Electric Distribution Companies’ Method of Payment to Licensed Electric Suppliers for Uncollectible Customer Accounts".

"In this proceeding, the Authority will review the costs and benefits of the current purchase of receivables method used by EDCs, and, if appropriate, order any changes to or replacement of the current purchase of receivables method with another alternative method, if the Authority determines such changes or replacement may be just and reasonable and in the public interest."

 

Draft Order Proposes Elimination of Fifth Quarter RPS Compliance “Make Up” Period.

In Docket 19-10-40, Connecticut PURA draft Order proposes to terminate retail electric suppliers and EDCs to use a fifth quarter "make up" period for RPS compliance. Subsequent to the repeal of former subsection (e) of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245a, effective July 1, 2017, the Authority continued to allow electric distribution companies and electric suppliers to use the fifth quarter for RPS compliance. The proposed decision notes that, in doing so, The Authority reasoned that, "since the Public Act became effective on July 1, 2017, which is halfway into the 2017 RPS compliance year, and the companies might have already taken actions based upon reliance on the former version of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245a(e), the Authority will maintain the [fifth quarter] allowance as well as the Authority’s current practices for the 2016 and 2017 RPS compliance filings."

The proposed decision further notes that language in its January 23, 2019 Decision in Docket No. 17-06-23 raises a plausible uncertainty regarding the continuation of the fifth quarter.

"The Authority seeks to resolve all uncertainty and to eliminate future reliance on the fifth quarter," the proposed decision states.

The decision states that "[t]o effectuate this, the Authority proposed to allow the fifth quarter to remain in effect for meeting RPS obligations for calendar year 2019, but to disallow it for meeting RPS obligations accrued during calendar year 2020 and thereafter (i.e., parties can use Q1 of calendar year 2020 as a fifth quarter for calendar year 2019 RPS pursuant to current practice, but cannot use Q1 of calendar year 2021 as a fifth quarter for calendar year 2020 RPS)."

"The Authority finds that phasing out the fifth quarter as proposed is a reasonable and just resolution for the elimination the fifth quarter. The Authority will allow the fifth quarter to remain in effect for meeting RPS obligations for calendar year 2019 and will disallow it for meeting RPS obligations accrued during calendar year 2020 and thereafter. The use of the fifth quarter is thus eliminated for meeting RPS obligations accrued on or after January 1, 2020," the proposed decision states.

Concurrent with the elimination of the fifth quarter for meeting RPS obligations accrued on or after January 1, 2020, the proposed decision would change PURA's practice to use the 90-Day Resettlement figures in determining a load-serving entity’s "total output or services" for RPS compliance purposes rather than the Post-90-Day figures.

 

Settlement Reached

In Docket No. 11-10-14 Prosecutorial Staff of the Connecticut PURA, the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, and Think Energy (GDF Suez Retail Energy Solutions, LLC d/b/a Think Energy) entered into a settlement agreement under which Think Energy would pay a civil penalty of twenty-one thousand dollars ($21,000) to resolve alleged violations related to Historical Variable Rate (HVR) reporting requirements.

Specifically, Prosecutorial Staff had alleged that Think had submitted inaccurate HVR data and failed to submit HVR data in a timely basis on several occasions.

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District of Columbia

DC PSC Adopts RPS Rules Aligned with New RPS Legislation

In RM29-2019-01, the District of Columbia PSC adopts changes to its RPS rules consistent with recently passed RPS legislation, which grandfathered existing retail supply contracts from certain new RPS requirements.

The PSC ruled that to implement such grandfathering, suppliers will have to report details of each specific contract. "While the Commission understands that this may be burdensome on suppliers, the Commission is bound by statute to require electricity suppliers to report this information for each contract in their compliance reports for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021," the PSC said.

The final rule requires suppliers' RPS reports for Compliance Years 2019, 2020, and 2021 shall include:

    • The number of the energy supply contracts that were executed prior to March 22, 2019, the effective date of the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 (CleanEnergy Act) (D.C. Law 22-257);
    • The length of each such energy supply contract; and
    • The amount of electricity sold pursuant to each such energy supply contract for the Compliance Year that is the subject of the compliance report being filed and an aggregated estimate of the amount of electricity to be sold pursuant to all such energy supply contracts for each Compliance Year through 2021. However, no estimates shall be required for inclusion in the compliance report for Compliance Year 2021.

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FERC

Joint Request for Rehearing Filed by Clean Energy Entities

In Docket Nos. EL16-49-000 EL18-178-000 four national organizations representing the range of clean energy companies in the United States filed a request for rehearing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on its order to impose a Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) in the PJM capacity market.

In their joint request for rehearing, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said they strongly oppose instituting the MOPR, as it would block new clean energy resources from participating in wholesale capacity markets. The rehearing request makes clear that FERC simply does not have the authority under the Federal Power Act to interfere with the states’ ability to choose clean energy generating facilities and, in turn, undermine state clean energy programs.
Click here for a copy of the joint filing

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Illinois

ICC To Initiate Citation Proceedings Against 20 ABCs

In a Staff Report to the Commission issued on December 18, 2019 the ICC took action to begin citation proceedings against 20 plus Agent Brokers and Consultants (“ABC’s”) for failure to file annual compliance reports and/or failure to keep bond current and/or miscellaneous tax/corporate status issues.

Staff suggests in their report that they also provided the affected companies plenty of notice and time to correct deficiencies and noted that although most ABCs have filed their required compliance report Staff identified 20 brokers that did not file report for one or both years. And since we’re dealing with citations here, there is still more process involved (and opportunity to correct) for these companies.

Details on the various broker citations in Illinois.
The docket numbers run from 20-0064 thru and including 20-0083.

 

Proposed Order Would Deny Third Parties Access to AMI Customer Data

In Docket 17-0123 a proposed order would deny access to customer Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) interval meter data to non-Retail Electric Supplier (RES) third-parties ass proposed by ComEd and Ameren.

"The proponents of the JPP assert that it will increase data sharing, but with the length of time and multiple steps involved, the Commission is not convinced that it will. As earlier rounds of comments made clear, the utilities would not agree to any process that did not involve direct customer to utility authorization. The resulting process, while meeting this demand, is not ideal and the record does not show that it will increase third-party registration or customer usage," the proposed order states.

 

Overview of ICC Retail Supplier Market Policy Session

On January 22, 2020 the ICC held a policy discussion on retail energy market issues. Four of the five Illinois Commerce Commissioners were in attendance. (Commissioner Sheahan was absent.) The discussion was broken into three panels: one addressing lessons learned in implementing Part 412; another consumer education issues; and a final Q&A-only panel focused on marketing practices.

Lines of questioning from the Commissioners did not betray any overt hostility to the concept of retail energy choice. Presentations by the Citizen Utility Board and the AG’s office, however, were sharply critical of the industry, with CUB taking the more aggressive stance of the two consumer protection agencies. The CUB representative on the panel began her prepared remarks by saying that she “can’t help feeling that were consumers truly informed about these offers, most of them would never sign up.” For the most part, CUB and the AG’s criticisms of the industry followed themes that they have used previously: lack of savings; excessive price premiums compared to utility default service, lack of transparency; deceptive and misleading practices, etc. CUB, however, did introduce the following argument that I have not heard them make before. CUB claimed that the residential retail energy industry’s poor reputation with consumers was hurting energy brokers ability to sell to commercial accounts as well as the ability of rooftop solar and energy efficiency providers’ ability to market to residential customers. In other words, bad actors in the residential retail energy space were hurting Illinois’ efforts to decarbonize and combat climate change.

More detailed notes on the ICC’s policy session are set out below for those seeking a deeper dive into what was discussed:

Introductions

    • Chair Zalewski, in her introductory remarks, noted that the “ICC is continuously looking for ways to educate the public about their retail electric supply options.” With regard to HEAT Act implementation, Chair Zalewski applauded the ORMD’s office for their work so far to implement the HEAT Act and noted that the Commission “has devoted an entire website” to the topic of HEAT Act implementation.
    • Acting ORMD Director Tanya Capellan spoke briefly as well and highlighted the importance for the commission to understand the roles suppliers and advocates play.

Panel: Part 412 Lessons Learned (Mike Nugent, IGS; Teresa Ringenbach, Direct Energy)
Moderator: Gabrielle Long, Legal and Policy Advisor to Commissioner Kimbrell

    • Mike Nugent outlined the process IGS undertook to implement Part 412 (e.g. regulatory review, internal workshops, in-house training). Nugent also highlighted the benefit of IGS’s business model. IGS’ IT, web development, OTM and door-to-door sales agents are all IGS employees which makes it easier to communicate changes, train and monitor compliance. Nugent said IGS has 18 full time door-to-door sales agents split between two Chicago-area offices.
    • Teresa Ringenbach said Centrica has approximately 159 employees in Illinois, which includes its Smart Watt business in Northbrook, IL; its home warranty business in Buffalo Grove, IL; and its Illinois HQ in Oak Brook. Direct Energy has approximately 150,000 customers in Illinois. Ringenbach outlined Direct Energy’s “project management” approach to implementing regulatory changes. She reminded the commissioners that implementing regulatory changes often involve multiple departments, product development teams, and (unlike IGS) outsourced teams as well. Ringenbach noted two challenges to implementing Part 412: (1) 412 implementation occurred at the same time as HEAT Act negotiations progressed at the General Assembly; (2) at the same time the industry had to work hard to counter a poor public perception. Ringenbach used this latter point to drop a Kanye West quote: “Love your haters, they’re your biggest fans.” Ringenbach estimated the cost to Direct Energy to implement the Heat Act and Part 412 at over $1 million dollars.
    • During the Q&A:

o When asked by Commissioner Bocanegra to identify some of the benefits of Part 412, Ringenbach noted that perhaps the “biggest thing . . . we didn’t know what some of these other companies were doing.” She said it was kind of a shock to hear which helped the industry regulate itself.

o Ringenbach noted that Direct Energy has an electronic TPV process that they might try to bring to Illinois.

o Ringenbach also noted that as a result of the HEAT Act they have suspended for now their door-to-door marketing efforts in Illinois. She said the HEAT Act made their costs to acquire via the door-to-door channel uneconomic.

o Ringenbach said a best practice for suppliers would be to have an in-house regulatory person “who knows how your company is run” actively engaged with the Commission. She also encouraged companies to have separate regulatory, compliance and legal teams so that you’re not left with a “strict legal interpretation” of the rules.

Panel: Consumer Education (Mike Stark, NRG; John Duessel, Vistra Energy; Sara Moskowitz, CUB)
Moderator: Alejandro Aixala, Legal and Policy Advisor to Commissioner Bocanegra

    • Mike Starck said NRG has 3.5 million customers in the nation’s restructured markets, markets under five brands in Illinois, and also has a large merchant generation fleet. Starck briefly discussed NRG’s efforts to educate prospects and current customers as well as their efforts to keep customers engaged. On the latter point, Starck noted NRG has a “My NRG” phone app. With regard to educating customers that they have a choice in energy suppliers, Stark noted a campaign that their internal marketing team developed and ran in Philadelphia. The campaign used a food truck with two customer windows—one offering plain hot chocolate for free and the other offering hot chocolate with toppings for free. They then used the subsequent queuing process to open a low-pressure dialogue with customers to educate customers on their ability to choose their electric supplier.
    • John Duessel noted that Vistra has over 700,000 customers in the Illinois market (which includes their opt-out aggregation customers). Duessel also noted their teams’ emphasis on quickly and accurately answering customer questions, including having video resources available to educate customers on complex topics.
    • Sarah Moskowitz (Citizens Utility Board) set forth a broad attack on the industry and its efforts to educate customers. She said, “she can’t help feeling that were consumers truly informed about these offers, most of them would never sign up.” She noted most consumers lose money when they take their supply from alternative retail energy suppliers. The HEAT Act requires more granular reporting of prices (which will produce a more refined savings/loss number in the next ORMD’s report), which Moskowitz said both excites her and frightens her at the same time. She said most of the energy suppliers have engaged in overcharging and most consumers have no idea. She noted a recent CUB bill clinic where a customer was paying an ARES 13 cents/kWh and said, “we’re just playing whack-a-mole out there.” She also claimed that the bad publicity and public perception of residential retail energy supplier offers was hurting energy brokers attempts to sign-up commercial customers to real savings as well rooftop solar developers and energy efficiency providers ability to sell to residential customers. With regard to future enforcement of the HEAT Act she said, “a slap on the wrist isn’t going to suffice in our state” and that “value added can’t be code for additional profit.” Moskowitz said it will be interesting to see what impact the PTC on the bill and marketing materials having has on consumers. She said she has seen one example of supplier marketing materials where the PTC was buried in very fine print at the bottom of a marketing piece.
    • During the Q&A:

o Commissioner Bocanegra asked about customer education to Spanish speakers.

o Starck (NRG) noted that more education could take place around the pricing component. In doing so, he highlighted the role of consumer preferences and the limitations of focusing solely on price/kWh.

o Duessel noted that one myth Vistra has had to debunk is skepticism around their offers. He added that Vistra doesn’t want customers to sign-up and stay for a month, “we want customers for the long-term.”

o Moskowitz (CUB) noted that consumers don’t understand what a “green” supply offer is.

o Starck (NRG) noted that it’s a myth to believe that by having a competitive market you’ll automatically get innovation. You’ll get some, he said, “but not all the way.” He hinted at some ideas to bring about more competition but did not go into any detail (at least publicly on what those might be.

o Duessel (Vistra) suggested that the Commission might want to expressly tie the Commission’s complaint score card results to the supplier offers lists on the Commission’s website “PluginIllinois.org.” Moskowitz (CUB) noted that they never hear customers that they interact with mention the PlugInIllinois.org website.

Panel: Marketing Practices (Theresa Ringenbach, Direct Energy; Jennifer Spinosi, Clean Choice Energy; Christopher Kim, AG’s office)
Moderator: Geraldo Delgado, Legal and Policy Advisor to Commissioner Oliva
This panel was solely Q&A.

    • Ringenbach (Direct Energy) noted that last spring they ran a bill which failed to make it out of the General Assembly which would have defined the term “value added product” and require value added products to be included in the ORMD’s annual market report.
    • Spinosi (Clean Choice Energy) noted that they acquire 85% of their customers through direct mail campaigns; the rest through digital, on-line, social media and email campaigns.
    • Ringenbach (Direct Energy) noted that in Illinois suppliers can’t obtain customer marketing lists from utilities which has from time to time resulted in inadvertent marketing to residents taking service from municipalities and co-ops. She also said Direct Energy is currently emphasizing partnerships (e.g. with CVS) that provide opportunities for face-to-face interactions with prospective customers.
    • Kim (Illinois AG’s office) said the problems with energy suppliers are “very much real.” He said the AG’s office has evidence that suppliers have targeted low-income and lower income neighborhoods. Switching rates in some low-income neighborhoods are almost 33% while higher income areas are around 5%.
    • Ringenbach noted potential market improvements such as “enroll with your wallet,” supplier consolidated billing, and accelerated switching. She also hinted that an industry-funded customer education fund might be worth exploring (noting a similar, one-time fund in Ohio). Likewise, the development of a “sanbox” construct similar to that used in the UK to test new product offerings without requiring formal rule waivers might be something the Commission would want to explore.
    • Spinosi (Clean Choice Energy) noted that her company’s product is priced as a premium product when compared to utility default service. They will often run a webpage with two offers—one a solar-wind mix and the other a “super premium” 100% solar product. Spinosi said around 15-20% of their customers will pick the super-premium product.
    • Kim (Illinois AG’s office) said that the AG’s office “can appreciate that people sign up for different reasons” but later noted that the HEAT Act passed in response to the growing amount of premium over the default service rate. Kim was asked what percentage of suppliers are bad actors. He said “it’s difficult to tell” but the office continues to see the same sorts of issues and problems as before passage of the HEAT Act. He noted that “almost always consumers are paying a premium, sometimes 3x more, and that is unacceptable.” Kim said the retail energy market remains dominated by customer confusion and that more needs to be done to educate consumers.
    • Ringenbach (Direct Energy) noted that her company has pushed for the licensing of sales agents in the past and that such a program would be a good next step to allow the Commission “to do something about” sales agents that don’t follow the rules.

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Maryland

Maryland PSC Approves Proposed Supplier Load Shaping Pilots

In PC 44 the Maryland PSC approved two separate supplier proposed load shaping pilots in response to Baltimore Gas & Electric and Pepco’s RFPs for load shaping pilot programs. Constellation and Inspire were the two suppliers filing load shaping pilots.

The PSC directed Baltimore Gas & Electric to accept a proposal from Constellation and directed Pepco to accept a proposal from Inspire Energy Holdings LLC. "Pursuant to the timeline in the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Letter Order, the Commission hereby directs Pepco to accept Inspire’s proposal, incorporating the information and assurances provided in both Pepco and Inspire’s letters. The Commission looks forward to seeing Inspire’s final Evaluation Measurement and Verification ('EM&V') plan, as described in Section 3 of the RFP, on January 31, 2020, incorporating any additional feedback from Pepco’s selected EM&V contractor," the PSC said

The Commission also directed BGE to accept Constellation’s load shaping pilot proposal described by the PSC as, "offering a supply price matching Standard Offer Service with the potential to earn a 'good user discount.” "Pursuant to the timeline in the Letter Order, the Commission hereby directs BGE to accept Constellation’s proposal, incorporating the information and assurances provided in both BGE and Constellation’s letters and the limitation on retaining customers at the close of the pilot. The Commission looks forward to seeing Constellation’s final Evaluation Measurement and Verification ('EM&V') plan, as described in Section 3 of the RFP, on January 31, 2020, incorporating any additional feedback from Pepco’s selected EM&V contractor," the PSC said.

 

Suppliers to Execute Billing Line Item Transfer (BLIT) with PJM

The MD PSC approved a change to BGE’ Electric Supplier Tariff requiring suppliers to execute a Billing Line Item Transfer (BLIT) with PJM no later than May 1, 2020.

Per Tariff Section:

10.4 BGE Price Responsive Demand (PRD) Resource. BGE is participating in PJM’s capacity market as a PRD resource beginning in the delivery year June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021. BGE’s PRD obligation to PJM is to reduce certain load under certain circumstances in exchange for an unforced capacity financial credit associated with BGE’s PRD customers receiving Standard Offer Service (SOS) from BGE. Regarding BGE’s PRD customers not receiving SOS from BGE, PJM will provide an unforced capacity financial credit to the Electricity Suppliers of such PRD customers.

10.5 PRD Unforced Capacity Financial Credit Billing Line Item Transfer. Electricity Suppliers governed by the Maryland Public Service Commission under this Tariff shall agree to a PJM billing line item transfer of the financial credits and costs associated with BGE’s participation in the PJM capacity market as a PRD resource from their respective PJM bill to BGE’s PJM bill. Absent changes made by PJM to credit the PRD provider for all of its PRD customers, when an Electricity Supplier participates in PJM’s capacity market as a PRD resource in the BGE service territory, the Electricity Supplier shall bill BGE for the financial credits and costs associated with the Electricity Supplier’s PRD customers to ensure that PRD credits and costs are correctly allocated between BGE and the Electricity Supplier.

 

Two Supplier Load Shaping Pilots Accepted by PSC

The Maryland PSC approved load shaping pilots proposed by two retail electric suppliers and directed Baltimore Gas & Electric to accept a proposal from Constellation, and similarly directed Pepco to accept a proposal from Inspire Energy Holdings LLC.

The PSC described Constellation's pilot as, "offering a supply price matching Standard Offer Service with the potential to earn a 'good user discount’.”

"Pursuant to the timeline in the Letter Order, the Commission hereby directs BGE to accept Constellation’s proposal, incorporating the information and assurances provided in both BGE and Constellation’s letters and the limitation on retaining customers at the close of the pilot. The Commission looks forward to seeing Constellation’s final Evaluation Measurement and Verification ('EM&V') plan, as described in Section 3 of the RFP, on January 31, 2020, incorporating any additional feedback from Pepco’s selected EM&V contractor."

The PSC’s letter order to Pepco directed the utility to accept Inspire Energy Holdings LLC's proposal, which the PSC described as offering "whole bill, clean energy time varying rates." "Pursuant to the timeline in the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Letter Order, the Commission hereby directs Pepco to accept Inspire’s proposal, incorporating the information and assurances provided in both Pepco and Inspire’s letters. The Commission looks forward to seeing Inspire’s final Evaluation Measurement and Verification ('EM&V') plan, as described in Section 3 of the RFP, on January 31, 2020, incorporating any additional feedback from Pepco’s selected EM&V contractor," the PSC said.

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Massachusetts

MA DPU Announce Two Upcoming Distributed Generation Technical Conferences

In D.P.U. 19-55, the Department expects to hold at least two additional technical conferences on March 2 and April 20, 2020. The DPU will provide an agenda and logistics and seek online registration as far as possible in advance of each technical conference. Inquiry by the Department of Public Utilities on its own Motion into Distributed Generation Interconnection.

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New Jersey

Flexible Clean Energy Spending Caps Legislation Approved

On January 21, 2019 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that clarifies the state’s Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) authority under the Clean Energy Act of 2018. The legislative changes will give the BPU more latitude in calculating the Clean Energy Act’s yearly cost caps. Specifically allows the BPU to rollover unused funding to the following year when calculating the cost caps. This measure would ease current constraints found under the program’s year-to-year cost caps.

This legislation softens the impact of the upcoming cost cap reduction that could have impacted New Jersey’s ability to meet its aggressive renewable energy requirements. The legislation, S-4275, amends legislation signed into law in 2018 (the “2018 Legislation”) to allow the BPU to smooth out the Class 1 renewable cost cap reduction over a six-year period. which would have potentially significantly reduced incentives for new solar necessary to meet New Jersey’s aggressive renewable energy requirements.

It is important to mention that S-4275 does not in and of itself change the Cost Cap set forth in the 2018 Legislation, but rather gives the BPU the authority to do so.

 

Flexible Clean Energy Spending Caps Legislation Approved

On December 20, 2019 the Board voted unanimously to adopt rules regarding the methodology that will be used to close the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Registration Program upon reaching the “5.1% Milestone” as established in the Clean Energy Act of 2018. See Community Solar Energy Pilot Program – N.J.A.C. 14:8-9 Community Solar Pilot Program Rule Proposal

This final rule adopted on January 8, 2020 and can be viewed here.

The advance draft has been posted in response to requests from interested parties and in accordance with the Board’s commitment to provide a transparent and collaborative solar transition process. This draft is distributed for informational purposes and is subject to change prior to formal Publication in the New Jersey Register.

 

NJ Board Issues Proposed Licensing Rule

An advanced copy of the new New Jersey TPS licensing rule proposal has been issued by the New Jersey Board. It will be published in the New Jersey Register on February 3. Comments are due by April 3.

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New York

NY PSC Extends Compliance Date of Track I Reset Order

In Case 15-M-0127, et al. on January 22, 2020 the Secretary of the NYPSC just issued an extension on ESCO compliance with the Track I Order as follows:

“Upon consideration of all stakeholders’ interests and in light of the importance of ensuring an orderly transition and implementation of the Order’s requirements, extension of the deadlines set forth in Ordering Clauses 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8, is warranted.1 Based on the information that has been provided, and considering the justifications underlying the extension requests, an extension, until May 11, 2020, is granted to ESCOs eligible to operate in New York to comply with the requirements of Ordering Clauses 1, 2, and 5 of the Order and to the electric and gas distribution utilities that have tariffed provisions providing for retail access to comply with the requirements of Ordering Clause 8. In addition, an extension, until June 9, 2020, is granted to the ESCOs currently operating in New York that intend to continue to renew contracts with customers in New York and/or enroll new customers in New York to comply with the requirements of Ordering Clause 6. No extension is provided by this Notice with respect to the remaining clauses of the Order. Nothing in this Notice should be construed as limiting the Commission’s authority to establish different or more particular implementation deadlines, including in any order addressing the aforementioned petitions.”

 

Mark Your Calendar – Financial Assurance Stakeholder Meeting Scheduled

In Case 15-M-0127, et al. the Commission has scheduled a financial assurance stakeholder meeting to be held on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, beginning at 10:30 a.m. to discuss methodologies for assessing entry-level and ongoing financial assurance requirements for ESCOs. The conference will take place at the New York State Department of Public Service’s Albany Offices, 19th Floor Boardroom, Three Empire State Plaza.

Note that participation by teleconference will not be available.

 

NY PSC Approves ConEd’s Joint Electric & Natural Gas Proposal

In Case 19-E-0065 (as reported by Energy Choice Matters) the New York PSC approved a joint proposal (JP) in the electric and natural gas rate cases of Consolidated Edison under which the utility, among other things, will include new costs in its default service supply rates.

In addition, ConEd will provide regular updates to energy service companies ('ESCOs') via the Retail Access newsletter, which is emailed to all ESCOs and posted on the Company’s website.

Also, Gas Marketer Collaborative Meetings will be held at least twice each rate year. The Company also agrees to convene a Special Collaborative that will be limited in duration to six months, beginning within 90 days of the Commission’s Order adopting this Proposal. During that time, Special Collaborative Meetings will be held at least once during each of the first two months and then every other month thereafter. By consensus, the Collaborative members may agree to schedule additional meetings and/or teleconferences.

The Company also agrees to hold an annual meeting each year with ESCOs and other third parties to answer questions on the electric retail choice program. Four weeks before the meeting, the Company will solicit comments, suggestions on topics to be covered and questions from ESCOs using the Company’s distribution lists for gas and electric ESCOs. The Company will provide a summary of the agenda items discussed at the annual meeting in its Newsletter.

ConEd also agrees to provide annual updated reference materials for call center representatives to update them on retail access developments including changes in rates charged ESCO customers and changes in UBP rules.

The Company will also make changes to its Transportation Customer Information System ('TCIS') that reject nominations from approved gas marketers that over-nominate at City gates for firm supply under the Company’s DDS program. The Company will complete these changes to TCIS by December 31, 2021.

 

PSC Adopts Tier 1 Renewable Pricing Modifications Paid By NYSERDA

In Case 15-E-0302, the New York PSC approves modification to pricing paid by NYSERDA to renewable energy developers under the Tier 1 renewable energy standard. By this order, Tier 1 renewable developers may elect to be compensated by NYSERDA (the central procurement administrator) based on a reference market index that will change monthly over the life of the contract (Index REC), beginning in 2020. LSEs may purchase RECs from NYSERDA, another source, or pay the Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP). The order directs NYSERDA and DPS Staff to file an implementation plan within 90 days.

The Commission notes that “[e]ach of these issues will require careful planning and attention from the Commission, but these issues are not critical to the Commission’s decision of whether to adopt the Index REC. Implementation issues relating to compliance, including those raised in the comments, shall be addressed through the filing of an implementation plan for review and approval, as appropriate, by the Commission."

 

Pilot Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Data Platform Is Now Available

The Public Service Commission’s Order issued December 13, 2018 directed the Department to lead coordination efforts and develop a “Pilot Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Data Platform” for a third-party to develop and implement. The purpose of the Pilot Integrated Energy Data Resource is to help DER developers identify, evaluate, and initiate DER development opportunities in New York State.

Orange & Rockland (O&R) is participating in this pilot program (coordinated with New York State’s Department of Public Service and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)) which will support a Distributed Energy Resource, or DER, company’s outreach to potential customers. A DER company may offer a variety of technology, like small scale energy storage or power generated from solar or may facilitate participation in energy efficiency or load management programs.

On January 1, 2020, the Pilot Integrated Energy Data Resource was made available for registration and use by DER developers and other interested stakeholders. The database currently contains data for 10,000 O&R customers and the portal provides an initial set of tools for designing and running analyses of those data sets.

NYSERDA has funded and created a secure database, pursuant to a Public Service Commission order, which a DER Company may query to find customers who may benefit from one or more of its products. This database does not allow access to a customer’s identifiable utility account information without the express consent of the utility customer. Rather, the DER Company can match your anonymous electric usage information with its criteria for finding potential customers. To better determine whether a customer is a good fit for these products or services, DER companies are seeking the customer’s permission to access and analyze some of your protected identifiable account information, including but not limited to: your name and street address, electricity consumption (kWh) data, service class, details about your utility service (voltage, phase(s), substation, circuit), business code (if you are a commercial customer), and whether you are already using a distributed energy resource. O&R is facilitating this request for consent to release this protected identifiable account information by mailing letters to the potential customers on behalf of a DER Company.

To obtain access to the Pilot Integrated Energy Data Resource, a DER supplier must be registered with the Department. The energy data resource link.

 

Utilities Seek Extension For Calculations & Posting Of Trailing Utility Supply Rate

In Case 15-M-0127 et al., the New York Utilities ask the Commission for an extension of the deadline for the utilities to develop 12-month trailing average utility supply rates. The Joint Utilities seek an extension to February 7, 2020, to file letters with the Commission identifying all of the required 12-month trailing average supply prices and to post these prices on the utility’s respective websites.

Under the Commission’s ‘reset order,’ ESCOs offering mass market customers a fixed-rate commodity product is limited in that it can be priced at no more than 5% greater than the trailing 12-month average utility supply rate. The Joint Utilities noted that, "Ordering Clause 7 of the Order requires the Joint Utilities to a make a filing by January 15, 2019, identifying 12-month trailing average utility supply rates for each mass-market service class and for each mass-market customer grouping that receives different supply rates based on applicable utility tariffs. This directive requires the Joint Utilities to calculate supply rates for all mass market service classifications, by region, for the previous 12 months."

"For certain of the Joint Utilities, this requires a multitude of calculations for each service class and customer grouping. For example, for Con Edison, this requires a separate rate posting for over 25 different possible supply rate variations based on different mass markets rates and regions, for each of the previous 12 months."

 

NY Court Grants Stay of PSC Order Revoking ESCO’s License

In Index No. 900146-20, the New York Supreme Court for Albany County issued an order directing that, pursuant to CPLR 7805, enforcement of the New York PSC's, "Order Revoking Atlantic Power & Gas LLC's Eligibility to Serve Customers in New York" ("Revocation Order") issued on Dec. 12, 2019, is stayed pending adjudication of an appeal of the order brought by Atlantic Power & Gas LLC.

The Court ordered, "that sufficient cause being alleged therefore, pending further Order of this Court, enforcement of the Revocation Order is stayed, and Respondent [the PSC], it's [sic] agents, officers, employees, successors, assigns and all persons acting pursuant to the Revocation Order who receive notice of this order are hereby temporarily restrained and ordered to refrain from taking any action in furtherance of the Revocation Order[.]"

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Oregon

Oregon Commission Approves Final Community Solar Implementation Manual

On January 2, 2020 the Oregon Public Utilities Commission announced it had approved guidelines to implement its community solar initiative, allowing project managers to begin creating program applications. Legislation enacted in 2016 (Senate Bill 1547) required the establishment of a community solar program for customers of the three electric utilities regulated by the Oregon commission. Customers may lease or buy part of a project and receive a bill credit for their portion of generated energy even if they rent or own a home with limited solar access.

The final implementation manual details project manager policies, certification processes, participation and billing procedures, and program requirements - sizing, siting, interconnection, permits and renewable energy certificate registration.

Registered community solar project managers may start filing project pre-certification applications starting Jan. 21, 2020, in order to enroll customers and begin project development. review the updated manual at: Oregon Community Solar Implementation Manual.

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Pennsylvania

Earth Etch Notes from Pennsylvania PUC CHARGE livestream event held on Monday, January 27, 2020

1. EGS bonding and an initiative to revise the EGS and NGS application packages.
Presenter: Darrin Gill, Deputy Director, Technical Utility Services and manager of licensing section.

Reminders

    • Make sure any required bonds, financial securities or letters of credit are placed on file with the commission annually and that the amount of the bond is correct.
    • Remember that the process for obtaining a bond reduction has changed—it’s now an initial petition followed up by annual reports and annual updates
    • Your annual sales reports are due in April each year.

Opportunity to provide feedback on application packages.

If, in your experience filling out the current application packages for NGS and EGS licensing, you’ve seen something that seemed “awkward or not intuitive” or otherwise have suggested improvements to the process, let Darrin Gill know by the end of February. Staff is very much interested in hearing whatever informal input or suggestions suppliers might have as they begin the process of updating the two application packages. Darrin’s contact information: (717) 783-5244 or via email at dgill@pa.gov. One change the Commission is considering is allowing (requiring?) an NGS or EGS applicant to fill out the form online and then print out the completed form for filing. Apparently, the goal behind such an online process is to ensure that suppliers are filling out all required sections of the form. They have had some issues with applicants skipping sections that should have been filled out.

2. Keeping formal contact information up-to-date and filing procedures.
Presenter: PUC Secretary Rosemary Chiavetta

Reminders

    • It’s very important to keep your contact information current with the Commission: e.g. update the Secretary’s office regarding changes in physical mailing address and designated agent for service. Also note, you cannot use an address outside of the United States.

o Don’t even think about trying to argue that you didn’t receive a document we sent. Such an argument is not likely to be successful. “You better be able to back up (such an argument) with proof.”

o Example: Designated contact left company. Company didn’t update contact information. Remaining employees, instead of opening up the mail sent to the former employee, forwarded that mail to the former employer. Supplier lost its license and had to go through the entire license application process again.

    • If you use a third party to make your filings at the commission: make sure that contractor is following through on required filings. They have had problems with one such contractor. The EGS or NGS is ultimately responsible for missed filings.
    • With formal complaints you only have 20 days to respond—so delays because of wrong contact information will hurt you.
    • You can choose e-service or certified mail to receive official documents from Commission. Better route: Choose e-service because you will get the complaint immediately (as well as other PUC information).

o Note: e-eservice is NOT email or fax.

o You need to set up an e-filing account to get e-service.

o There is no charge to set up an e-filing account. Plus, doing so allows you to “subscribe” (follow) dockets and receive alerts when new items are filed.

o Confidential or proprietary information can’t be e-filed—e.g. Security instruments have to be filed “old fashioned” way.

o Note also: 4:30 pm EST is deadline if document due on a particular day. But if you use overnight delivery, the date delivered to overnight delivery service (deposit date) is considered date received by the Commission (even if Commission doesn’t receive until next day.) If you don’t think you will make the 4:30 pm cut off for e-filing, send later that same day via overnight delivery.

3. Updates to PaPowerSwitch, PaGasSwitch, and the PUC’s website.
Presenter: Cindy Page, Office of Communications.

PA Power Switch updates:

    • Almost instant page loads.
    • Filter feature changes.
    • Comparison feature which will allow comparisons of up to 8 offers at once.
    • Solar will be filter option on renewable page.
    • Staff also looking at upgrade in future to include time-of-use products.
    • Back end experience also changing for suppliers: New user guides will be sent out. Commission will also be resetting passwords for all current accounts. Dan Mumford will provide updates with further details in the official summary of the meeting. At this point, on or around Feb 10 the Commission will stop all inputs into the website; plan is to launch new website on Feb 18.

Also note, the PUC’s website is also being updated to make it easier to navigate. The updates will include how suppliers are listed on the website.

4. The PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services re: informal complaint procedures and reporting residential door-to-door marketing activity.
Presenter: Michele Tate and Anette Falcoln (sp), Bureau of Consumer Services.

Informal Complaint Procedures

    • Supplier responsibilities—provide information and documentation to support your position and to demonstrate compliance with PA rules. Also, it’s important to include all relevant facts about the enrollment and the Supplier’s investigation. Also need to document the separate verification process.
    • Billing or payment complaint: submit customer’s account statement.
    • Be as succinct and thorough as possible in what you provide to Bureau in response to a complaint.

Door-to-Door Marketing (Anette Falcoln (sp))

    • If a supplier is going to use d2d marketing, realize that there are a number of specific guidelines that you have to follow including that the PUC needs to receive notice no later than the morning of the day you are going to conduct d2d marketing. Until end of March, time frame is 9 am to 7 pm. Sales reps need to leave premises immediately upon customer request.
    • Notification timelines of one month or less good range for the Commission. Specific areas and dates of activity-- zip codes, cites, towns, boroughs and dates involved should be included in notice.
    • She has seen a lot of activity around verification issues because there are so many different formats. Note: Enrollment forms don’t prove that no slamming has occurred. You need to supply the verification (TPV or electronic verification).
    • Before any supplier engages in d2d activity, the Commission strongly encourages the supplier to reach out to the Commission. The Commission will walk through the requirements with you.

5. Announcing an upcoming rulemaking to review and update the Chapter 111 Residential Supplier Marketing Regulations and inviting informal comments from stakeholders.
Presenter: Dan Mumford, Office of Competitive Market Oversight

The Commission invited informal comments on the Chapter 111 supplier residential marketing regulations (http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pacode?file=/secure/pacode/data/052/chapter111/chap111toc.html&d= ).

Chapter 111 promulgated back in 2012.
While informal comments may be submitted on any topic related to residential supplier marketing, the Commission Staff noted that they are especially interested in obtaining advice and suggestions on the following topic areas:

    • Telemarketing rules – see 52 Pa. Code § 111.10; including a possible reporting requirement for telemarketing analogous to the reporting requirement for door to door marketing at 52 Pa. Code § 111.14, and potential limitations on caller ID spoofing and robocalls.
    • Updating the sales verification procedures at 52 Pa. Code § 111.7 to accommodate new and evolving technologies.
    • Quality control and oversight of marketing vendors – see 52 Pa. Code § 111.5.
    • Updating rules and guidance on the marketing of renewable energy products – see 52 Pa. Code § 54.6 and 52 Pa. Code § 75.68. Current renewable energy marketing rules date back to the 1990s.
    • Rules for direct mail marketing and in person marketing. Very little in the current rules on these topics.

In addition to the above, based upon informal feedback from stakeholders, the Commission Staff also invited comment on the following two additional topic areas:

    • ·Any need for guidance regarding residential brokering (such as disclosing how and who compensates the broker for their services; and the broker disclosing any affiliations with other suppliers, etc.).
    • Possible reporting requirement regarding EGS marketing a price that is significantly higher than the current utility PTC. Including: what would be the triggering price level (such as a percent of the PTC, i.e. 150%, etc.), possible exceptions (i.e. renewable products), applicable customer classes (residential only, or also small commercial, etc.).

Informal comments should be emailed to the Office of Competitive Market Oversight at: RA-OCMO@pa.gov. As these are informal comments, they should NOT be addressed to or submitted to the Commission’s Secretary. Please email any informal comments by Friday, February 21, 2020.

    • Note: The Commission is not planning on posting or sharing these informal comments, but they cannot guarantee they won’t be made public. A person could use the commonwealth’s “Right to Know” laws to seek copies of the comments.
    • Staff will also consider in-person or telephone calls to take informal comments.

Staff will consider the informal comments and then likely prepare a NOPR.

Miscellaneous Updates from OCMO

    • Final rulemaking Order will be out soon on Chapter 54 EGS disclosure. Look for a meeting this summer in Harrisburg to over the new rules.
    • Last Thursday, Secretarial Letter concerning default service. Commission closed its investigation and made several requests of electric utility and stakeholders.
    • Next round of utility default service plans will be filed in coming weeks.

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