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PUC Proposes Ban On Pre-Recorded Automated Messages For Unsolicited Advertisements, In Draft New Retail Supplier Marketing Rules

Includes New Rules Allowing PUC To Order "Reparations" To Customers In Cases Of Unexpected Supplier Cessation Of Service

October 9, 2018

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Copyright 2010-17
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The New Hampshire PUC has opened a rulemaking addressing rules governing licensing and marketing of retail natural gas suppliers.

Among other things, the proposed revisions to the rules would strike from the current rule a ban on placing telemarketing calls to a, "cellular telephone service."

Instead, the draft rules would more narrowly prohibit initiation of a telemarketing call to, "A telephone number assigned to a cellular telephone service, unless the call is directly placed to the number and not initiated using an automatic telephone dialing system."

Additionally, the draft rules would provide that a supplier and aggregator shall not, "Use a pre-recorded automated message to send unsolicited advertisements to potential customers."

The draft revisions would prohibit telephone solicitations before 11:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday or on any state or federal holiday, striking the current language prohibiting telephone solicitations before 11:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. on, "a weekend"

The draft revisions also explicitly provides that, for written authorizations for an enrollment, the signature may be in electronic form

The draft would adopt new detailed rules regarding cessations of service by gas suppliers.

For a "voluntary" discontinuance of service by the supplier, the supplier shall provide no less than 60 days written notice to any affected LDC and to the PUC. The supplier would also be required to provide to each affected customer, no less than 45 days and no more than 60 days prior to the start of the customer’s next billing cycle, the following: (a) written notice of the date on which the CNGS intends to cease service to the customer; and (b) the date by which the customer must select an alternate supplier or be transitioned to LDC delivery service.

For transitions resulting from an "unexpected" cessation of service, the supplier shall provide immediate notice to the commission describing the event and the effective time of the inability to provide service, and provide immediate notice to all customers describing the event and the effective time of the inability to provide service. In such case, the supplier shall reimburse the LDC at its filed and approved tariffed rate for transferring the supplier's customers to LDC delivery service

Notably, for unexpected transitions, the draft rules provide that the supplier, if directed by the PUC, shall, "Pay reparations for customer losses."

The draft includes various revisions to the supplier security requirements, including raising the maximum limit on supplier security from $350,000 to $500,000

Security would be required to have an effective term of not less than 12 months with a 6 month extended claims, draws, or demand period, as opposed to the current five-year term

For aggregators, the draft would limit renewed licenses to a period of 2 years, rather than the current 5 year term

The draft also provides that a supplier shall not rely on an aggregator to satisfy any of its obligations required by the applicable chapter unless:

(1) The supplier has a written agreement with an aggregator specifying that the aggregator accepts the obligations of the supplier pursuant to the chapter;

(2) The supplier agrees to provide a copy of the written agreement pursuant to (1) above at the Commission’s request; and

(3) The supplier accepts all financial responsibility for any remedies or damages as a result of the aggregator's failure to satisfy the supplier's obligations pursuant to this chapter.

DRM 18-152

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