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Utility Seeks Waiver of Accelerated Switching Rules

July 20, 2018

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

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Choptank Electric Cooperative, Inc. requested from the Maryland PSC a temporary waiver from certain sections of COMAR 20.53. related to competitive electricity supply.

"Specifically, Choptank seeks waivers from the provisions applicable to a 'utility' contained in 20.53.04. (Transfers of Service). As explained further below, Choptank has incurred significant capital and operating expenses to implement and maintain a competitive electric supply market across the cooperative's distribution service territory. Moreover, Choptank expects to incur significant expenses to comply with certain recent and possible future revisions to COMAR 20.53. Of course, these costs are ultimately borne by Choptank's member-customers," Choptank said

"The fact of the matter is that retail choice has existed in Choptank's service territory for over 17 years (since May 2001) and no competitive supplier has ever registered with Choptank (and no member-customer has asked the cooperative to change the member's electric supplier). Choptank has incurred (and may continue to incur) the costs to implement and maintain a competitive electric supply market in which neither suppliers nor customers have shown any interest. Accordingly, Choptank requests a temporary waiver from the applicable sections of COMAR 20.53.04 for at least one and a half years (with the understanding that the cooperative will report to the Commission after such time concerning the status of supplier and customer interest within the cooperative's service territory)," Choptank said

"If upon the expiration of the initial temporary waiver period there continues to be no interest in competitive supply, Choptank would expect to request an extension of its waiver for another term," Choptank said

In the meantime, Choptank will maintain the ability to process manually a member-customer's request to change electricity suppliers (to the extent there are any such requests).

Choptank respectfully requests waivers from the following COMAR provisions:

• 20.53.04.02B (Supplier Enrollments and Drops) - imposing expedited switching by requiring a utility to process an enrollment or drop within 3 business days.

• 20.53.04.02D (Multiple Enrollments and Drops) - allowing up to two enrollments and two drops within a single utility billing cycle.

• 20.53.04.03A and B (Transaction Error Handling) - requiring utilities to process supplier notifications of erroneous enrollments or drops sent within 2 business days of the original transaction.

• 20.53.04.04A(3) (Customer Initiated Drops) - requiring a utility to process a customer's drop request within 3 business days if the supplier has failed to act on the customer's request.

"Choptank's current customer billing and IT systems would need to be substantially upgraded in order to implement the specific obligations required by the COMAR sections referenced immediately above ... Choptank can expect to incur expenses approaching $1 million in order to comply with these particular sections of COMAR 20.53.04," Choptank said

"Choptank understands that it maintains the opportunity to recover its prudently incurred operating and capital expenses related to any IT upgrades necessary to comply with the competitive supply regulations - but cost recovery is not the sole issue here. Rather, Choptank seeks guidance from the Commission as to the prudency of continuing to commit a significant amount of the cooperative's scarce resources towards an endeavor in which the cooperative's member-customers have shown no interest," Choptank said

On December 22, 2016 and based on similar reasons, Choptank requested a temporary waiver of certain changes to COMAR 20.53 adopted in RM 54 that became effective March 14, 2016. Through a letter order dated January 25, 2017, the Commission granted the waiver requested by Choptank until July 1, 2017. Choptank asked that the Commission consider its request a continuation of this previous waiver.

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