Duty Of Texas Retail Providers To Notify Customers Of TDU Rate Class Reassignment May Become Issue In Another Complaint Case
August 24, 2018 Email This Story Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The duty, if any, of Texas retail electric providers to inform customers of a change in the customer's assignment to a specific TDU rate class, and associated changes in rates due to such change, may be addressed in another pending customer complaint before the Texas PUC
A customer, Reigning Glory Church, filed a formal complaint at the PUCT (Docket 48521) alleging that its TDU, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric (CEHE, or Centerpoint), is charging, "exorbitant pricing for only about 2000 ft.2 at a time of use. We are a small church and do not use the 18 thousand sq ft on the property. Our TDU pass thru charges are 6 times more than our electric bill."
The church is served under CEHE's Secondary Service Greater Than 10 kVA tariff
In its initial formal complaint filing, the church does not allege that it was improperly assigned to or transitioned to this service class. However, in a proposed list of issues from the church, the church proposes that an issue to be addressed in the case should be, "Is the rate class assigned to RGC the appropriate rate class?"
The PUCT Staff in a proposed list of issues, proposes that the complaint proceeding consider the question of, "Was the complainant ever transitioned from section 220.127.116.11.2 (secondary service less than or equal to 10kVA) to section 18.104.22.168.3 (secondary service greater than 10kVA)?"
Furthermore, Staff proposes as part of this question: "If so, did Centerpoint or Summer Energy [the customer's REP] have a duty to inform the complainant of the transition in tariff treatment from section 22.214.171.124.2 (secondary service less than or equal to 10kVA) to section 126.96.36.199.3 (secondary service greater than 10kVA). If there was a duty to inform the complainant, did Centerpoint or Summer Energy comply with this requirement?"
CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric has moved to dismiss the complaint, stating that the church was appropriately classified as receiving Secondary Service Greater than 10 kVA, and said that the church's usage for the period of June 22, 2017 through March 9, 2018 confirms that its demand exceeded 10 kVA each month. CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric said that it correctly calculated the electric delivery charges for the church.
CEHE said that the prior informal PUCT Customer Protection Division review of the matter concluded that CEHE used the appropriate billing determinants to correctly calculate the disputed electric delivery charges.
As previously reported, another complaint case concerning a customer's TDU delivery rate class and re-assignment (Docket 48387) includes consideration of a REP's duty to inform the customer of such change, and any resulting change in pricing (see story here)
As previously reported (see story here), in a complaint case from several years ago (Docket 42111), a SOAH Order had concluded that the Commission's Customer Protection Rule regarding "Unauthorized Charges" imposes an additional requirement on the REP to provide explicit advanced notice and to obtain prior consent before passing through any changes in TDU charges. The Order did so by determining that P.U.C. SUBST. R. 25.481(b)(1) applies to changes in TDU charges resulting from TDU Rate Schedule changes and, "requires a REP to 'explicitly inform the customer' of any charges before those charges appear on the customer's electric bill." In that same case, PUCT Staff had also argued that REPs have a duty to learn and then communicate TDU rate information to the end use customer prior to charging the customer for such charges. This includes all charges that result from distribution, demand charges, or applicable tariff rates.
However, the complaint in Docket 42111 was ultimately dismissed, due in part to a refund of disputed charges, before the issue of a REP's duty concerning TDU rate classification re-assignments was finally and precedentially adjudicated by the PUCT. There was no final order addressing the issue of REP obligations to customers concerning communication of TDU rate classification changes, and attendant changes in rates, leaving such issue an open question.