August 19, 2019
Not so Fast: Much More Time & Many More Workshops Necessary
At the end of the one-day meeting the Commissioners agreed that, as a first step, Commissioners will docket their questions for stakeholder comment and Staff was directed to develop another draft proposal that will serve as a discussion document for Commissioners and any future scheduled workshops. (Docket RE-00000A-18-0405)
Prior to adopting this approach, Chairman Burns had sought for Staff to include in the next draft a specific proposal to include residential electric choice in the rules, not for purposes of voting but to facilitate discussion; however, other Commissioners expressed concern with the Chairman's suggestion to include in their draft proposal to incorporate an option that includes shopping for residential customers. In response Staff said it would need until October to return with such a draft.
Although the meeting concluded with no date for Staff ‘s revised draft or next workshop, the Commissioners agreed to develop questions for stakeholder comment.
Government To Keep With Energy-Only Market Structure
Energy Minister Sonya Savage announced on July 24th that the government will keep an energy-only market, arguing it’s a better deal for investors and consumers. She said, “[w]e heard overwhelmingly from generators and the financial sector there would be more investment in an energy-only market and not a capacity market.”
Shared Clean Energy Program Rules & Consolidated Billing Rulemaking
The Connecticut PURA opened Docket 19-07-01 (pdf) for a review of proposed rules for a statewide shared clean energy facility program. In the review, DEEP requested the Authority establish a working group to explore consolidated billing. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ("DEEP") establishes these program requirements for the Shared Clean Energy Facilities ("SCEF") program ("Program") consistent with Section 7 of Public Act 18-50, An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Energy Future ("the Act"). The electric distribution companies shall develop tariff proposals to submit to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ("PURA") consistent with these program requirements.
Shared Clean Energy Program Rules & Consolidated Billing Rulemaking
The Connecticut PURA in Docket 06-12-07RE07 issued a final order assessing $1.5 million fine on Liberty Holdings, LLC. The final order also imposes a six-month ban from marketing to any new residential customers other than online enrollments.
Of note, the final order states that Liberty, among other telemarketing related violations, “violated Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 16-245©, 16-245(g)(2), 16-245o(f)(2), 16-245o(h)(1), 16-245o(h)(2), 16-245o(h)(3), 16-245o(h)(4), 16-245o(h)(7), 16-245o(j), 16-245s, and 42-110b,” by engaging in the following actions:
- entering into contracts containing early termination fees in excess of fifty dollars;
- not identifying Liberty in its marketing;
- not indicating Liberty does not represent an electric distribution company (EDC);
- not explaining the purpose of its solicitations;
- indicating its rates are all-inclusive;
- implying in marketing that a customer must choose a supplier;
- misrepresenting an EDC’s rate;
- not correctly explaining all rates;
- not following proper third-party verification procedures;
- not directly training its third-party agents; and
- employing unfair and deceptive marketing, including but not limited to the violations listed above.
The final order states, “To ensure Liberty complies with all legal requirements, the Authority will periodically request, and audit select audio recordings and will require Liberty to produce transcripts of those recordings. Upon the Authority’s request, Liberty will provide the Authority with the dates, times, and locations in which it will conduct any form of marketing, including but not limited to telemarketing and door-to-door or in-person marketing, and the Authority reserves the right to observe and audit such marketing.”
District of Columbia
Draft Order Recommends New Shopping Website Listing Supplier Offers
In FC1130 Staff of the District of Columbia PSC issued a proposed order in the PSC's Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS) proceeding, with the grid modernization efforts now being branded Power Path DC.
Staff’s proposed order would also require Pepco to file a strawman dynamic pricing proposal for residential customers and recommends continuation of dynamic pricing working group.
Under the draft, the PSC would create a new more user-friendly shopping website based on information gathered from working group. The draft order also asks the Commission to convene the Consumer Bill of Rights (CBOR) Working Group within 60 days from the date of a final order to consider: (a) Revisions to the Commission’s CBOR rules to align them with the MEDSIS Vision; (b) Interim CBOR rules that will be applicable to the MEDSIS Pilot Programs; and (c) Appropriate outreach methods to effectively inform customers of the CBOR rule changes.
PJM Directed Not to Run August 2022-23 Bra Capacity Auction
Update: In Docket Nos. EL16-49-000 & EL 16-49-000 (pdf). FERC has directed PJM not to run August 2019 the Base Residual Auction (BRA) under its RPM capacity market for the 2022-2023 delivery year under its existing tariff.
FERC's order had declared the current capacity market tariff to be unjust and unreasonable, but FERC had yet adopted a replacement. Chief among changes to be addressed in the ongoing RPM proceeding is a process for LSEs to remove load associated with state-subsidized resources from the RPM auctions
$561,00 Fine & Customers to Be Returned to Default Service
In Order No. 89219 - Case No. 9617 the PSC suspends Smart One Energy, LLC (SOE) license and sets a $561,000 fine and orders all SOE’s customers shall be returned to default service.
The order is the result of the supplier not collecting the ‘wet signatures’ from three customers that enrolled with the company via a telemarketing sale. Under the Maryland Telephone Solicitation Act's a wet signature is required for most telemarketing sales.
The PSC said, "counsel for SOE admitted that SOE had committed the violations alleged by Staff, including: (1) failure to obtain a signed, written contract from any customer in violation of COMAR 20.59.07.08; (2) failure to send each customer a contract summary in violation of COMAR 20.59.07.08; and (3) engaging in deceptive telephone solicitations -- for two customers -- and failure to retain recorded telephone solicitations for the third customer."
Governor Appoints New Commission
Tremaine Phillips has been appointed as the newest Michigan Commissioner. He currently leads the Cincinnati 2030 District and previously held positions with Empower Gas and Electric, the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, and the Michigan Environmental Council...
Ohio Governor Signs Nuclear Subsidy Bill
In Docket 18-0382-GE-WVR. Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recommend that the Commission should approve, with Staff’s additional recommended conditions, Direct Energy’s third-party verification (TPV) process waiver petition to allow customers to enroll using a “digital” TPV process rather than the required telephonic enrollment process under existing rules. This waiver request would allow Direct Energy’s customers to complete the required verification process through a digital confirmation platform rather than the verbal TPV process.
As recommended in similar waiver requests by other suppliers, Staff recommends that the list of disclosures and permissions required by the rules should match those provided to the customer through the digital platform. Staff also recommends that the format and content of the digital verification be submitted for review prior to its availability to customers," Staff said.
Case No. 18-0382-GE-WVR
Supplier Agrees to $250,000 Fine & Customer Refunds
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a stipulation between Staff and National Gas & Electric (NG&E or Company) and PUCO Staff. Under the settlement, National Gas & Electric has agreed to a forfeiture of $250,000 to resolve alleged violations in Staff Notice of Probable Non-Compliance dated September 11, 2018.
PUCO Staff Recommend Approval of Chat Waiver Request
In Case No. 18-0604-GE-WVR. Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio have recommended that the Commission approve, with additional proposed Staff conditions, Constellation New Energy’s chat waiver request to allow Constellation to enroll retail Ohio customers via an online, interactive process, or "chat".
As part of its recommendation Staff noted that, among other things that although the disclosures and acknowledgment proposed by Constellation for the chat process appear to most closely follow the rules for telephonic enrollments, "[s]taff believes that the application does not go far enough to comply with all of the rules that Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-6(D)(2) requires of telephonic enrollment for electric service," as Staff said that the application does not provide how chat enrollment would mimic the following telephonic enrollment requirements:
- Chat transcript must include the CRES provider's identity purpose of the chat;
- Chat transcript must include a statement and the customer's acknowledgment that the CRES provider is not the customer's current electric utility company and that the customer may choose to remain with the electric utility company or enroll with another CRES provider;
- Chat transcript must include a toll-free telephone number the customer can call to cancel the contract;
- Chat transcript must include, if applicable, a request for and the customer's provision of the customer's electric utility account number;
- Chat transcript must include a request for and the customer's provision of the customer's mailing address; and
- CRES provider shall provide a copy of the chat transcript to the customer, commission, or the staff within three business days of a request.
Supplier Agrees to Sell Customer Book & Relinquish PUCO Licenses
In Case No. 19-957-GE-COI PALMco Power OH, LLC d/b/a Indra Energy (PALMco Power) and PALMco Energy Ohio, LLC d/b/a Indra Energy (PALMco Energy) (collectively PALMco) agree not to renew electric or natural gas PUCO licenses and to reassign existing customer book to new entity. In the investigation PUCO Staff has alleged the companies were engaged in, "unfair, misleading, deceptive and unconscionable marketing, solicitation, and sales acts and practices when PALMco in multiple instances whereby the company initially charged customers about 5 cents per kWh but subsequently charged customers 20 cents per kWh.”
To settle the investigation, among other things, agreed to the following:
- Sell Ohio book of customers and make refunds payable under the provision within 30 calendar days of the date PALMco receives the funds from the sale. And, if the company is unable to complete the contract assignments within 30 days prior to the expiration of its current certificates, then the customers shall default to utility’s applicable default service rate.
- Stop enrolling any new customers;
- Re-rate charges to customers who enrolled between 10/01/2018 and 11/30/2018 at the rate the customer would have paid to the utility under utility’s standard default rate estimated to amount to approximately $800,000. If, however, the transactional funds exceed the amount of the estimated refund obligation, then 50% of the remaining funds shall be paid to the State of Ohio as a forfeiture, with a cap of $750,000
- Cease operating in the state by agreeing not renewing its CRES and CRNGS licenses.
Commission Issues Proposed Settlement with Liberty Power
In Commission’s Order (auto Microsoft Word Download). in M-2019-2568471 the Investigation and Enforcement division (I&E) initiated an informal investigation of Liberty Power based on a referral from the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS), which had received informal complaints alleging that a third-party marketing vendor of Liberty Power had enrolled, or attempted to enroll, residential customers into electricity accounts without proper customer authorization – otherwise known as “slamming” – and presented a lower price in the disclosure statements and marketing materials then the actual price they charged customers.
As part of the proposed settlement, the company agreed to refund each customer improperly switched to Liberty Power the amount of the electric generation supply portion on customers’ bills for the first two billing periods, and to pay a civil penalty of $82,800 to resolve all allegations of slamming and unlawful marketing. Liberty Power previously had terminated its contract with the third-party vendor and revised language in its disclosure statements and other marketing materials.
Commission Notifies Suppliers & Utilities of Aeps Recalculation
The Pennsylvania Commission in Docket M 2009-2093383 AEPS (auto Microsoft Word Download) issued a Secretarial letter notifying EGSs and EDCs that there will be a recalculation of the annual Alternate Energy Portfolio Standards Act (AEPS Act) Tier I obligations for the 2019 AEPS Act compliance year.
"On July 29, 2019, Commission staff received notice from the Alternative Energy Credits Program Administrator (Administrator) that PPL Electric Utilities, Inc. (PPL) misreported their retail load for the 2019 compliance year. When the corrected load is applied to the quarterly adjustments, it results in an increase in the Tier I obligations for the 2019 compliance year from 7.048265% to 7.051769%," the PUC said in the Secretarial letter "The Administrator previously provided each EDC and EGS with their AEPS Act obligations on July 15, 2019 based on the incorrect data. Accordingly, to correct this error, the Administrator will be providing revised obligations to each EDC and EGS by August 15, 2019," the PUC said "In recognition that the EDCs and EGSs are receiving revised AEPS Act compliance obligations on August 15, 2019, the Commission is extending the AEPS Act annual true-up compliance deadline to October 1, 2019," the PUC said
Proposed Assignment of Default Service Obligation to Suppliers
In PA PUC Order 3007101 (auto Microsoft Word Download) the Pennsylvania PUC initiated an inquiry to explore improving default service cost assignment, rate structure and the procurement process, as well as examining ways how non-shopping customers may benefit from load shifting behaviors and other value-added default service alternatives.
In response to the Commission’s inquiry, the “EGS Coalition” (comprised of NRG Energy, Inc., Direct Energy Services, LLC, Interstate Gas Supply, Inc., and Vistra Energy) said that "[t]he Commission should take the initiative to relieve EDCs of the default service obligation and reassign the default service obligation to EGSs through a competitive bidding process.” EGS Coalition Comments (pdf).
RESA concludes, ‘[f]or all these reasons, the Commission's investigation needs to consider how changes to the current default service structure will impact the competitive market and whether more substantial reforms should be investigated to have a more significant positive impact on achieving the stated goals of the Commission through this proceeding. RESA Comments (pdf).
The National Energy Market Association opined that the default service structure provided for under the statute requires the use of a competitive procurement process. (66Pa. C.S. §2807 (3.1-3.2). NEM Comments (pdf).
Low-Income Customers Should Be Served Under Default Service Only?
Parties filed comments in Docket M-2018-3006578. In response to the Pennsylvania PUC policy statement that would restrict shopping for electric Customer Assistance Program (CAP) customers on a state-wide basis to a product whose rate does not exceed the default service Price to Compare at any time.
PPL in its filed comments said that it, "supports further consideration of whether the best policy to protect CAP customers is to simply require that all CAP customers be placed on default service." As support for this position, PPL noted that no retail suppliers have participated in its CAP Standard Offer Program (SOP) since June 1, 2018. PPL's CAP program required EGSs to offer a fixed price that is 7% below the PTC at the time of enrollment. "This has resulted in PPL Electric expending resources in maintaining CAP SOP despite the fact that no EGS has participated in the program for over a year," PPL said
In filed comments RESA proposed that suppliers be allowed to serve CAP customers under a rate that does not exceed the EDC's PTC in effect at the time of contract and , the initial contract price must be maintained during the entire duration of the contract.
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