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Texas Stakeholders Submit Strawman On Enrolling Door-to-Door Customers Via Electronic Device Without Telephonic Verification

July 7, 2016

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Copyright 2010-16
Reporting by Paul Ring •

Texas stakeholders have submitted a strawman concerning retail electric providers' enrollment of customers solicited through door-to-door marketing via an electronic device, without a requirement for verification via TPV or telephonic recording

PUCT Staff previously filed a Staff strawman in the project (click here for details)

The Stakeholder Strawman does contain some specific rule language; however, stakeholders stressed that participants in the stakeholder process are still in the process of reviewing this language to ensure it meets four goals identified by stakeholders (discussed below). As a result, there is not yet stakeholder consensus on all of the proposed language, or on whether or not any specific approach will ultimately be recommended. However, stakeholders will continue to work toward a consensus document for discussion at Staff's workshop on August 8, 2016.

Participants in the stakeholder discussions include: Alliance for Retail Markets (ARM), Champion Energy, Constellation/StarTex, Direct Energy, MP2 Energy, NRG Retail Companies, Office of Public Utility Counsel, Regulatory Compliance Services, Texas Energy Association for Marketers (TEAM), Texas Legal Service Center (TLSC), Texas ROSE, and TXU Energy.

Stakeholders said that, at the outset, "it is important to understand that the stakeholders participating in this effort have all agreed to the following goals (with one exception) as a framework for the Stakeholder Strawman,":

1. Streamline the existing rule language to eliminate redundancies in the authorization disclosures and the verification sections.

2. Make the rule language as technologically neutral as possible without changing existing process requirements, with the exception of those related to door-to-door solicitations conducted with the use of hand-held electronic devices, which the style of this project currently reflects as the subject of this rulemaking. TLSC and Texas ROSE do not completely concur in this stated goal.

3. Incorporate Staff Strawman language (as filed on June 16, 2016) into the structure of the Stakeholder Strawman as appropriate.

4. Propose substantive revisions that have stakeholder consensus. Substantive revisions that may lack stakeholder consensus will be addressed by individual stakeholders in their filed comments.

As filed, the initial Stakeholder Strawman is notable for not defining a specific type of electronic device permitted under the proposed rules, similar to the Staff strawman

However, the as-filed initial Stakeholder Strawman differs in the minimum requirements that electronic devices would have to meet to be used for door-to-door enrollments.

Specifically, the initial Stakeholder Strawman provides that the electronic device shall require a complex password for access, have remote data wipe capabilities that allow the REP or aggregator to remove all data should the device be lost or stolen, and have mobile locating and tracking enabled, as the Staff strawman requires

While the initial Stakeholder Strawman also provides that any customer specific information entered into the electronic device shall be transferred to the REP or aggregator's systems using Secure Socket Layer or similar encryption standard to ensure the privacy of customer information, the initial Stakeholder Strawman does not require this transfer of data to occur, "expeditiously," as the Staff strawman requires.

Both strawmans would require that, once the transfer of data has been verified, the customer information on the electronic device shall be removed immediately.

Also absent from the initial Stakeholder Strawman is a Staff strawman provision that the electronic device itself, "shall clearly and conspicuously identify either (1) the legal name of the aggregator and its registration number to provide aggregation services or (2) the legal name of the REP, REP's certification number to sell electric service, address, and telephone number." The initial Stakeholder Strawman does require any REP agent to wear an ID badge with their name, photograph, and REP certification number.

The initial Stakeholder Strawman would allow door-to-door enrollments to be authorized as follows (with various requirements for each method):

• In writing (whether hard copy or electronic)

     -- For written enrollments conveyed electronically, a website or other user interface could be used (such as a smart phone app)

     -- For written enrollments conveyed electronically, such authorizations shall adhere to any applicable state and federal guidelines governing the use of electronic signatures

• Audio or Video recording

For door-to-door enrollments, only written enrollments via paper would require the customer to convey validation via a mechanism distinct from the process used for authorization (e.g. writing), with either a REP recording or TPV permitted for verification, as currently provided

For non-paper door-to-door enrollments (whether via electronic signature or audio/video recording), enrollment validation may be conveyed by electronic written form or by recorded voice or audio, with validations required to inform the customer of their right of rescission and REP contact info

Click here for the Stakeholder Strawman

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