Texas Retail Provider To Pay $100,000 Under Settlement With PUC Staff
October 15, 2018 Email This Story Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Reliant Energy Retail Services, LLC would pay $100,000 under a settlement with Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to resolve alleged violations of 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) § 25.479(b)(2), concerning the alleged failure to timely issue bills and (b)(3), concerning the alleged failure to obtain customer agreement prior to providing bills electronically in lieu of written bills delivered via U.S. mail.
A statement from Reliant is below
Under 16 TAC § 25.479(b)(2), bills shall be issued by the REP no later than 30 days after receiving the usage data and any related invoices for non-bypassable charges from a transmission and distribution utility (TDU), unless validation of the usage data and invoice received from a TDU by the REP or other efforts to determine the accuracy of usage data or invoices delay billing by a REP past 30 days.
The settlement agreement states, "Between August 2017 and May 2018, Reliant issued at least one bill to 1,714 customers more than 30 days after it received usage data from the TDU."
The settlement agreement states, "Most of the 1,714 customers were part of a program for customers with electric generation equipment such as solar panels which provides bill credits to customers for the excess energy generation (DRG Program). The database used to provide the billing to these customers experienced failures resulting in the billing delay beyond 30 days of receiving usage information from the TDU."
The settlement agreement states, "Reliant informed Staff that the impacted DRG customers have been provided a credit for the amount of any usage charges not billed within 30 days after the usage data was received from the TDSP."
Under 16 TAC § 25.479(b)(3), a REP may provide bills to a customer electronically, in lieu of written mailings, if both the customer and the REP agree to such an arrangement.
The settlement agreement states, "From January 1, 2017 to June 5, 2018, Reliant transitioned 47,930 customers from receiving billing via U.S. mail to solely paperless billing via email without first obtaining an agreement from the customers to do so."
The settlement agreement states, "Reliant's records indicated that these customers had agreed to receive bills electronically via email and to also receive paper bills via the U.S. mail. Before transitioning these customers, Reliant emailed these customers and informed them that their account would transition to solely e-billing if no response was received or the customer failed to update their billing preferences."
The settlement agreement states, "Reliant also acknowledges that a subset of customers did not receive these emails due to a system error."
The settlement agreement states, "Reliant contends that the customers who failed to receive an email have had billing via U.S. mail restored."
Reliant provided the following statement to EnergyChoiceMatters.com: "We are pleased to have reached agreement with the PUC to resolve the issues addressed in this settlement. In both instances, the experience for our customers was not what we strive to deliver. In the case of the delayed billing, we resolved the matter in favor of the impacted customers by issuing bill credits for all usage charges not billed within the 30 day period. And, for customers who were moved to electronic billing without receiving notice, we have returned to them to paper billing. We are glad to put these matters behind us and will continue to focus on putting customers first."