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PECO Proposes Prepay Service Pilot -- How Will Shopping Customers Be Affected?

October 27, 2016

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Copyright 2010-16
Reporting by Paul Ring •

PECO has petitioned the Pennsylvania PUC to implement a prepayment (advance payments plan) pilot.

The pilot would be limited to approximately 1,000 participants, and open to both shopping and default service customers.

For shopping customers, the daily information provided to the prepay customers will be based upon generation pricing information (provided by their supplier) for the most recent month available, but not the current month (as PECO will not have the current month information at that time). At the end of each month, PECO will reconcile the advance payments balance using actual pricing information from the alternative supplier. Any other adjustments needed to conform to billing requirements will be made at this same time. Any credits from the monthly reconciliation will be credited to the customer's advance payments balance by the next business day. Debits will be allocated daily over the next month to the customer's advance payments balance.

Participation in the prepay pilot would be voluntary, and available to electric-only and dual-fuel customers.

While PUC regulations concerning advance payment plan programs limit the program to delinquent customers, PECO proposes to allow both non-delinquent and delinquent customers to participate. Delinquent customers could be no more than $1,500 delinquent to participate.

Low-income customers will not be permitted to participate in the prepay pilot

The pilot would use PECO's existing advanced meter infrastructure for meter reading and remote disconnect/reconnect, with prepayments made through PECO's currently accepted payment channels.

Prepay participants would fund their advance payments balance with an initial payment of $40 or greater; this amount was selected to provide multiple days of utility service to newly enrolled participants.

Participants would make ongoing payments as their available advance payments balance decreases with usage. Additional funding must be made in minimum amounts of $15.

Prepay participants will receive electronic notice(s) when the account balance is sufficient to cover an estimated five, three, and one days' worth of usage. Additional notices will also be available on customer request.

Each notification will provide the dollars in the advance payments balance and the estimated days of usage remaining. All participants will receive a notification at five days, three days, and one day prior to zero balance. In addition, participants will receive daily notifications during the emergency backup credit grace period, which is described below.

Participants will also receive notifications upon payments received, disconnections, and connections.

Participants will select communication channels (text and/or email) and frequency of notifications.

Prepay customers will have access to a website and mobile application that provides advance payments balance and estimated days of usage remaining. Historical usage and payment data will also be provided through these platforms.

If the customer's prepay account balance reaches zero or a negative balance, the customer will be given a five-day grace period to load funds to the account, during which time PECO will provide emergency backup credits for additional usage for this grace period. Customers will also be given daily notification during the grace period.

If the customer does not load sufficient additional funds prior to the end of the grace period, service will be remotely disconnected. Once service is disconnected, in order to restore service a customer will be required to pay for their usage during their grace period, as well as make an additional payment to establish an advance payments balance of at least $15. No connection fees will be assessed.

PECO will conduct an outreach campaign to customers who meet the described eligibility requirements to enroll customers in the pilot

PECO proposes to begin customer enrollment in the prepay pilot in the fourth quarter of 2017 or first quarter of 2018, with the specific start depending on completion of IT work. PECO would initiate the pilot program sometime during, or prior to, the first quarter of 2018

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