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Governor Signs Bill Requiring Affirmative Consent For Certain Retail Contract Renewals, Provision of Rate Comparison Info

New Law Requires Study of Default Service Versus Retail Supplier Rates

May 25, 2017

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Copyright 2010-17
Reporting by Paul Ring •

Maine Governor Paul LePage has signed LD 803 which will require affirmative consent for certain retail supplier contract renewals exceeding a price threshold, but which omits an earlier proposal banning auto-renewals for all contracts

A prior version of the bill would have provided that:

• Before serving a consumer, suppliers shall disclose to the consumer if the rate of generation service is higher than the standard-offer service rate;

• Suppliers may not renew a contract for generation service without express consent from the consumer.

Instead, as enacted, LD 803 adopts the following residential customer protections:

Residential consumer protections. As a condition of licensing, a competitive electricity provider that provides or proposes to provide generation service to a residential consumer:

A. Shall disclose, before entering into an agreement to provide service to a residential consumer, to the residential consumer where the residential consumer can obtain information with which to compare the service provided by the competitive electricity provider and the standard-offer service;

B. May not renew a contract for generation service without providing a residential consumer with notice of renewal in advance by mail;

C. May not renew a contract for generation service at a fixed rate that is 20% or more above the contract rate in the expiring contract without the express consent of the residential consumer;

D. May not renew a contract for generation service for a term that is longer than the term of the expiring contract or 12 months, whichever is shorter, without the express consent of the residential consumer; and

E. May not impose an early termination fee for any contract for generation service that was renewed without express consent from the residential consumer.

If a residential consumer does not provide the express consent required by paragraphs C and D, the residential consumer must be transferred to standard-offer service

Additionally, the new law provides that the monthly utility bill for a residential consumer that elects to receive generation service from a competitive electricity provider must contain the following:

A. A website address or other resource that residential consumers can access to obtain information that provides independent information as determined by the commission that allows residential consumers to compare terms, conditions and rates of electricity supply; and

B. A statement that directs the residential consumer to the competitive electricity provider for more information on the residential consumer's contract, including its terms, and that provides the telephone number of the competitive electricity provider.

The law also directs the Public Utilities Commission, in consultation with the Public Advocate, to conduct an analysis to determine the difference in price, if any, residential consumers paid for generation service by purchasing from a competitive electricity provider instead of receiving standard-offer service between 2014 and 2016. In evaluating any price difference, the Public Utilities Commission shall include, where possible, if and how the product purchased by the residential consumer differed from standard-offer service. The Public Utilities Commission shall report the findings of the analysis to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology by February 15, 2018. The report may include recommendations. The joint standing committee may report out a bill based on the report to the Second Regular Session of the 128th Legislature.

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