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September 20, 2019

Arizona

Staff Retail Competition Draft Placed On Hold

The Arizona Corporation Commission has determined that Staff will not be directed to develop a rules package for full retail electric competition for all customers. Instead, Commissioners agreed to schedule the next workshop concerning retail choice for some time in December. Commissioners agreed to provide Staff with time to continue its research, and did not direct the development of a rules package for full retail choice at this time. Commissioners will also docket any questions or issues to be addressed in the immediate term. Staff will compile these and issue them for stakeholder comment, with parties to be given 60-90 days to respond.

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California

Proposed Order Assigns Portion of Reliability Resources & Renewable Integration Resources to Retail Suppliers

A proposed order for a California PUC ALJ in Rulemaking 16-02-007 would require utilities, community choice aggregators and competitive retail suppliers to procure their assigned share of incremental reliability and renewable integration resources. More specifically the proposed order would require LSEs to collectively procure 2,500 MW of incremental capacity required to be procured by all Commission-jurisdictional LSEs serving load within the SCE TAC area.

The order states that, “We prefer to assume at the outset that the LSEs with procurement obligations for system reliability and renewable integration would prefer to conduct their own procurement to fulfill their individual requirements. We also note that in many venues for many years, many parties have expressed some degree of dissatisfaction with the CAM, utilized to allocate costs of procurement done by IOUs on behalf of customers of ESPs and CCAs. In response to these criticisms, we will implement a requirement that each LSE, regardless of whether it is an IOU or an ESP or CCA, is responsible for its own share of the incremental reliability and renewable integration resources identified herein as needed."

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Connecticut

Reminder: RPS Compliance Filing

Although Public Act 17-186 amended Connecticut General Statute 16-245a to eliminate Q5 (the extra CT Quarter) effective July 2017, PURA has not yet taken the steps to amend its regulations or current practices to incorporate the change from PA 17-186. Therefore, the 2018 RPS compliance filing is still due on October 15, 2019, and the Final Settlement Load will be used to determine its obligations. Companies are allowed to use Q1 2019 RECs for 2018 RPS compliance. PURA will issue a notice to all load serving entities, if and when any changes are made to its current practices, in order to allow adequate time for all to comply.

 

Executive Order Signed To Reach Zero-carbon By 2040

On September 3rd, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order #3 (pdf), to further combat climate change. The Executive Order directs study and analysis of the achievement of a zero-carbon target by 2040 for the electric sector.

 

Bureau Recommends Hardship Customers Should Be Placed on Utility Default Service

In Docket No.18-06-02, Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy (Bureau) said in a brief that the Connecticut PURA should, "exercise its discretion and order hardship customers to be placed on standard service." The Bureau went on to say that, "[t]he evidentiary record demonstrates that doing so is feasible and the benefits significantly outweigh the costs." The Connecticut PURA opened a Docket 18-06-02 for a review of the feasibility, costs, and benefits of placing certain customers on standard service pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245o(m).

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District of Columbia

PSC Reissues Proposed Change to Rescission Period

On September 9th, the District of Columbia PSC in Docket RM3-2019-01-G gave notice of its intent to adopt amendments to Chapter 3 (Consumer Rights and Responsibilities) of title 15 related to proposed changes to language regarding the rescission period in sections 327.15 of the Consumer Bill of Rights (CBOR) rules. Note that the latest proposed change is the same as previously presented and is being re-issued due to rule changes related to utility disconnections. The Commission shall take final rulemaking action not less than thirty (30) days after publication of this notice in the D.C. Register. RM3-2019-01-G-3.pdf (pdf).

 

Pepco Customer Switching Tariff

The Commission is seeking comment on proposed Pepco tariff filings related to customer switching. The Commission previously ordered that Pepco should implement three business day switching in the Consumer Bill of Rights rulemaking. The Commission also ordered Pepco to remove the twelve-month minimum stay provision applicable to commercial customers that return to Standard Offer Service after receiving competitive supply. Pepco filed proposed tariffs to implement these changes. Comments are due September 30th. The full texts of the Notice of Proposed Tariffs and Pepco's Tariff Filings (.zip file download).

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FERC

FERC Data Request On RTO/ISO Interconnection of DER Policies

On September 5th, in Docket No. RM18-9-000, FERC staff issued a data request in its rulemaking on Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Aggregation to the regional transmission organizations. Staff seeks information on the RTO/ISO policies and procedures that affect the interconnection of DERs.

Data responses by the RTOs/ISOs are due by October 7th. Comments on the data responses are due thirty days from filing of the response. The full text of the. Staff Data Request. is available here (pdf).

 

Grid-enhancing Technologies Workshop to Be Held

In Docket No. AD19-19-000 on September 9th FERC announced it will convene a staff-led workshop on November 5-6 to discuss grid-enhancing technologies that increase the capacity, efficiency, or reliability of transmission facilities. The workshop will be held at 888 First Street, NE, Washington DC. Notice (pdf) and Event Details.

 

Senators Send Concerns About FERC Shift From Clean Energy Policies

In the August 29, 2019 letter Senators express concerns with policy shift at FERC that undermines state policies designed to support clean energy and address climate change. Senator Letter To FERC.

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Maine

Public Advocate Recommends License Suspension and $1M Fine

In Docket 2010-00256 the Maine Office of the Public Advocate has recommended to the Maine PUC that the PUC suspend Electricity Maine’s retail electric supplier license for a minimum of one year and impose a civil penalty of no less than $1 million on the company.

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Maryland

MD PSC Suspends Retail Supply License, Imposes Civil Penalty & Directs Transfer of Service

Staff of the Maryland Public Service Commission has requested that the Commission revoke Smart One Energy, LLC's natural gas supplier license and direct that the full $250,000 amount of a bond previously provided by Smart One Energy be paid to the Commission.

Staff alleged, "The Commission has already found that Smart One has violated Maryland laws and regulations. Smart One's failure to comply with the directives in Order No. 89219 is a violation of a Commission order and further demonstrates that Smart One is unwilling or unable to meet its obligations. Under PUA §§ 7-507 and 7-603, the Commission has the authority to revoke a natural gas supplier's license for just cause, which is defined to include, among other things: (iv) committing fraud or engaging in deceptive practices; (v) failing to maintain financial integrity; (vi) violating a Commission regulation or order; ... (viii) violating a provision of this article or any other applicable consumer protection law of the State. In Order No. 89219 and in its subsequent Notices of Default, the Commission has found that Smart One has committed all of these violations. In light of Smart One's continuing failure to comply with the Commission's Orders and Maryland law, the Commission has just cause to direct the forfeiture of Smart One's Bond and to revoke Smart One's license to supply natural gas, and Staff recommends that it do so." Order No. 89219 - Case No. 9617 - Order Suspending Retail Supply License, Imposing Civil Penalty, and Directing the Transfer of Service (pdf).

"For the foregoing reasons, the Staff of the Maryland Public Service Commission respectfully requests that the Commission direct that the full $250,000 amount of the Bond be paid to the Commission and, further, that the Commission revoke Smart One's license (License No. IR- 2355) to supply natural gas in Maryland," Staff said. Order No. 89219 – Case No. 9617 – Order Suspending Retail Supply License, Imposing Civil Penalty, and Directing the Transfer of Service (pdf)

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Ohio

$675,000 Settlement Reached & Suspension of License For One Year

In Case No 19-0958. Case 19-0958-GE-COI Verde Energy USA Ohio, LLC d/b/a Verde Energy would pay a forfeiture of $675,000 and withdraw from Dominion East Ohio’s Monthly Variable Rate (MVR) program for a period of one year, under a settlement with Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The settlement would resolve an investigation into various alleged sales and marketing behavior of Verde.

Among other things, PUCO Staff had alleged that, "Verde used inaccurate caller identification information indicating to customers that Verde's outgoing calls are instead originating from Duke Energy Ohio, AEP Ohio, and/or the Internal Revenue Service, a practice also known as spoofing, in violation of Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-03(A), 4901:1-21-05(C)(8)(h), 4901:1-21-05(C)(10), 4901:1-29- 03(A), 4901:1-29-05(D), and 4901:1-29-10(A)."

Staff had also alleged that, "Verde sales representatives provided misleading information during telemarketing solicitations, in violation of Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-03(A), 4901:1-21-04,4901:1-21- 05(C), 4901:1-29-03(A), 4901:1-29-05(D), and 4901:1-29-10(A), and which did not follow the sales script Verde provided to Staff."
View Document (pdf).

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Pennsylvania

Gas Utility’s On-bill Non-commodity Billing Services Found Unacceptable

In Docket R-2018-2647577 Order (automatic MS Word Doc download) , the Pennsylvania PUC has rejected the plan filed by Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc. ("Columbia") to comply with a prior PUC directive for Columbia to report how it will comply with 66 Pa.C.S. § 1502, after the PUC previously found that Columbia's practice of providing "on-bill" billing for non-utility services to only two select providers is, "discriminatory." The PUC did state that Columbia must either provide such a non-commodity billing service to all entities that provide such non-basic services or must discontinue the 'on bill' billing policy.

 

PA PUC Recalculation Notice Of Annual Alternate Energy Portfolio Standards Act

The Pennsylvania PUC issued a Secretarial letter notifying retail electric suppliers 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.

"This notice is being provided to inform all electric distribution companies (EDCs) and electric generation suppliers (EGSs) with compliance obligations of this recalculation as soon as practical and to extend the AEPS Act annual true-up compliance deadline to October 1, 2019 for all AEPS Tiers, including the AEPS solar requirement," the letter said. AEPS Recalculation and Deadline Extension Secretarial Letter (automatic MS Word Document download) – Recalculation of the annual AEPS Tier I obligations for the 2019 compliance year, and extension of the annual true-up compliance deadline to October 1, 2019 for all AEPS Tiers, including the AEPS solar requirement. Secretarial Letter dated August 8, 2019. Docket No. M-2009-2093383.

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New Jersey

NJ Board To Investigate Whether Retail Residential Customers Have Saved Money

The New Jersey BPU issued a public notice inviting comments on whether residential customers have saved money by taking service from a retail supplier under natural gas choice. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities scheduled a meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 to explore issues in the proceeding.

Among other things, the board seeks comment on the following questions:

    • What rates have the TPSs charged residential customers over the past three years?
    • How does this compare to what these residential customers would have paid for their natural gas supply if they had been served by their GDC?
    • Did these residential customers save money?

In its notice, the BPU stated, "Prior to the deregulation of the natural gas market, the GDCs were responsible for securing sufficient capacity to meet the needs of all of their firm customers. Once the market was deregulated, natural gas customers migrated to transportation service and the GDCs were incentivized to not just release, but permanently shed excess capacity. The New Jersey Utility Association represents that the GDCs have firm upstream capacity for BGSS sales obligations, but not sufficient capacity to serve the entire load for TPS firm transportation customers. By Order dated February 27, 2019 ('February 2019 Order'), the Board directed Staff to initiate this stakeholder process to explore the issue of whether there is sufficient gas capacity secured to meet New Jersey customer needs prospectively."

As the Board has previously indicated that an important measure of the effectiveness of energy competition is if, and to what extent, TPSs (third party suppliers) are saving residential customers money on their natural gas supply. Accordingly, a newly noticed stakeholder proceeding (Docket GO19070846) will, "explore what savings have been provided to residential customers who have selected a TPS to provide their gas supply service."

 

Draft 2019 Energy Master Plan Additional Stakeholder Meetings Announced

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“NJBPU”) provided notice of additional Public Meetings wherein interested parties may present comment for the record on the Draft 2019 Energy Master Plan (“EMP”).

As per Executive Order 28, signed by Governor Murphy on May 23, 2018, NJBPU President Joseph Fiordaliso designated Grace Strom Power, NJBPU Chief of Staff, as chair of the EMP Committee. The EMP Committee established five working groups to receive public comment and begin working towards the creation of the new EMP. As the next stage of the public engagement process, the EMP Committee released the Draft 2019 Energy Master Plan: Policy Vision to 2050 on June 10, 2019. This robust document outlines the key goals of the EMP Committee, which is now seeking public feedback.

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New York

The New York Court of Appeals Denies NEM’s Motion For Reargument

The New York Court of Appeals issued a decision on NEM’s Motion for Reargument in NEM v NYPSC. http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/motions/2019/2019_79179.htm. finding that the NYPSC does have authority to impose a price cap on ESCO rates as a condition of eligibility.

As background the New York Court of Appeals issued a decision on May 9th in NEM v. NYPSC finding that the NYPSC does have authority to impose a price cap on ESCO rates as a condition of eligibility. While the Court found that ESCOs are not within the statutory definition of “gas corporation” and “electric corporation” and therefore not subject to the NYPSC’s direct ratemaking authority under Public Service Law Article 4, the Court found that the NYPSC under its authority to regulate utilities’ transportation of ESCOs’ gas and electricity, may condition access to utility infrastructure upon ESCOs’ compliance with a price cap on gas or electricity.

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Nevada

Staff Issues Proposal on SB547 Competitive Rulemaking

On August 30th, in docket 19-06029 Staff has filed a straw proposal on integrated resource planning issues, including regulations on impact fees. Staff considered whether impact fees should be the same for every customer exiting pursuant to a plan on annual limits or whether components of an exit fee should vary based on customer-specific factors. Staff also considered whether impact fees should be set based on customers load profile characteristics. Staff ultimately proposed that impact fees should be the same for every customer exiting pursuant to a plan on annual limits, opining that a customer-specific approach would be burdensome. Staff requests feedback on whether SB547 changed the Commission's standard for reviewing and approving customer applications to depart electric utility commodity service; revised the application procedure for a customer to shop with a competitive electric supplier; required "providers of new electric resources" to obtain a license by the Commission; and required the Commission to establish a process for a shopping customer to apply to return to bundled electric utility service. The rulemaking that has been initiated will be conducted in three phases: 1) integrated resource planning issues; 2) licensing of providers of new electric service; and 3) the revised exit application process.

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Texas

TPUC Staff Unveils Strawman Broker Rules

In Project 49794 Strawman Rules (pdf). Staff filed a strawman proposed rule that would create a new 16 TAC § 25.486, Customer Protections for Brokerage Services. Among other things the strawman would amend current §25.471, General Provisions of Customer Protection Rules, to provide that §25.471 applies to brokers where stated and retail electric providers (REPs).

Among other things the proposal would address the following topics:

    • "A broker must comply with the commission's education, disclosure, and marketing guidelines and rules. A broker may not release proprietary customer information to any person unless the customer authorizes the release in a manner approved by the commission."
    • Prohibited communications from brokers would include, "Stating, suggesting, implying or otherwise leading a client to believe that receiving brokerage services will provide a customer with better quality service from a REP or TDU."
    • "An agreement between a broker and a client that authorizes the broker to act as the client's agent must be in writing."
    • "How the broker will be compensated for providing brokerage services, who will provide the compensation, and the amount or method of calculation of the compensation"
    • "The names and commission certificate numbers for any REPs with which the broker has an agreement to recommend that REP to clients"
    • Brokers, "must employ 24-hour capability for accepting a customer's or client's rescission of the terms of service by telephone, according to rights of cancellation in §25.474(j) of this title (relating to Selection of Retail Electric Provider)."
    • "Whether there is a financial penalty for terminating the brokerage services agreement, and if The strawman § 25.486 would require that, "All written, electronic, and oral communications, including advertising, websites, direct marketing materials, and billing statements produced by a broker must be clear and not misleading, fraudulent, unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive."
    • The strawman would also add new 16 TAC § 25.112 governing broker registrations whereby the broker registration expires three years after the date of acceptance.

The strawman would define "Brokerage Services" as, "providing advice or procurement services to, or acting on behalf of, a retail electric customer regarding the selection of a retail electric provider, or a product or service offered by a retail electric provider, including brokerage services offered online. Enrolling a retail electric customer as an agent for a retail electric provider is not a brokerage service."

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