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Regulator Rules On Customers To Be Included In Municipal Aggregations On Opt-Out Basis

August 25, 2017

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Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

The Massachusetts DPU issued an order concerning the customers eligible to be included in electricity municipal aggregations on an opt-out basis.

The DPU ruled that the following customers should be included in the list of eligible customers provided to municipal aggregators:

(1) basic service customers;

(2) basic service customers who have indicated that they do not want their contact information shared with competitive suppliers for marketing purposes; and

(3) customers receiving basic service plus an optional green power product that allows concurrent enrollment in either basic service or competitive supply.

Concerning its decision to include basic service customers who have indicated that they do not want their contact information shared with competitive suppliers for marketing purposes as part of the customers enrolled via opt-out, the DPU said, "The Department finds that, from a marketing perspective, municipal aggregators are different from competitive suppliers in two key ways. First, municipal aggregators do not employ the same marketing methods, and at the same frequency, as competitive suppliers. A customer may receive multiple solicitations from several different competitive suppliers over a given period, using various marketing channels (e.g., telephone solicitation, door-to-door, direct mail). By contrast, a municipal aggregator sends educational materials and a one-time opt-out notice at program initiation. And, unlike marketing communications from competitive suppliers, a municipal aggregator must obtain Department approval of its education and information plans, including the opt-out notices sent to eligible customers."

"Basic service customers who have indicated they do not want their contact information shared with competitive suppliers have not expressly indicated a preference to refrain from receiving information about municipal aggregation. The privacy considerations underlying certain basic service customers’ preference not to have their contact information shared with competitive suppliers for marketing purposes are not equally applicable to municipal aggregators," the DPU said

The DPU ruled that the following customers should be excluded from the list of eligible customers provided to municipal aggregators:

(1) basic service customers who have asked their electric distribution company to not enroll them in competitive supply;

(2) basic service customers enrolled in a green power product program that prohibits switching to a competitive supplier (National Grid GreenUp); and

(3) customers receiving competitive supply service.

The DPU also ruled that aggregate utility data shared with municipal aggregators should include in such aggregate data the data related to customers ineligible for opt-out enrollment

"Although the Department has determined that distribution companies should exclude certain groups of customers from the eligible customer list provided to municipal aggregators, the Department finds that it is appropriate for the distribution companies to allow municipal aggregators to access, upon request, aggregate load data for all customers by customer class so that suppliers bidding on the aggregators’ load are aware of the municipality’s total potential load. Allowing access to aggregate customer load data will help suppliers better understand the possible impact these customers could have on joining the aggregation, and to set accurate pricing for participating customers," the DPU said

D.P.U. 16-10

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