RESA Cites Concerns With New Definition For Third Party Verification In Retail Market Rules
Definition References Customer Access To "Future" Pricing Information, Not Cited Elsewhere In Rules
November 20, 2018 Email This Story Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Retail Energy Supply Association raised concerns with several of the revisions contained in the District of Columbia's most recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for changes to its Consumer Bill of Rights, which apply to retail electric and natural gas service to residential customers
Readers of EnergyChoiceMatters.com learned in our exclusive October 22 analysis of the NOPR (see story here), that, most notably, the new NOPR included a new definition for, "Third Party Verification (TPV)" under which the customer must acknowledge, "that the Customer may access future pricing information[.]"
However, as noted in EnergyChoiceMatters.com's exclusive analysis, nowhere else in the proposed or existing Consumer Bill of Rights rules is there an obligation for the retail supplier to provide future pricing information under the current contract (e.g. excluding info required under renewal notices, such as a change in terms, etc.)
RESA made note of the language concerning future pricing information (contained in subsection g) in its comments filed on November 19
"Neither the current CBORs nor the proposed 6th NOPR require suppliers post or make available future pricing information. Thus, it is unclear if the definition intended to present a new disclosure requirement only for Contracts where Third Party Verifications are utilized. RESA recommends deleting (g) from the definition," RESA said
RESA also stated concerning the TPV language, "the new proposed definition is not consistent with the use of the term in proposed Rule 327.16. The new proposed definition says that a Third Party Verification can be performed by an 'independent person not party to the agreement or may be performed by an automated, computerized system.' Proposed Rule 327.16, however, says that, to verify a customer’s intent to enter into a Contract by telephone, the supplier 'must utilize either: (1) an Independent Third-Party telephone verification; or (2) An automated, computerized system; ...' (Emphasis added). RESA presumes that the reference to an 'Independent Third Party telephone verification' is intended to be the same as the new defined term 'Third Party Verification.' Additionally, the proposed definition of Third-Party Verification includes an automated computerized process, but proposed Rule 327.16 implies that an automated computerized system is something other than a Third Party Verification. To fix this, RESA recommends that the Commission: (1) revise proposed Rule 327.16(c)(1) to refer to a 'Third Party Verification' instead of an 'Independent Third Party telephone verification[']; and (2) delete proposed Rule 327.16(c)(2)."
As EnergyChoiceMatters.com previously reported, the latest NOPR maintains the proposal from a March NOPR that would require that Energy Suppliers shall, "prominently display on their websites' homepages links to the Commission's website pages for Customer Retail Choice and Consumer Suppliers' Offers."
RESA said that, "Retail suppliers should not be required to link to their competitors’ offers," and further noted practical problems will arise in implementation from the use of the term "homepage", for suppliers operating in multiple states, since the term could be interpreted to mean the supplier’s main website address.
"Many suppliers operate in multiple jurisdictions. Customers may land on the homepage, and then continue to another page that is specific to the jurisdiction or state in which they live. Requiring a supplier active in the D.C. market to 'prominently display on their websites’ homepage' a link to the D.C. Commission’s site could confuse customers in other jurisdictions who are looking for offers from that supplier. RESA recommends that, if suppliers are ultimately required to link to a Commission website, that the supplier not be required to place the link on its 'homepage' but can, instead, place it on a page reserved for offers in the District," RESA said
RESA also reiterated previously raised concerns regarding various language in the NOPR that has been retained.
RESA reiterated that the use of the term "Completed Written Contract" in several instances of the rule, when most instances simply use the term Contract (and because the rule permits contracts to be formed via non-written means) adds confusion and ambiguity. A discussion concerning the term "Completed Written Contract" can be found in our prior story
RESA also noted that proposed Rule 327.15 still contains four different trigger points for the start of the Rescission Period. RESA noted that subsections (b) and (d) of such rule would both apply to a telephone enrollment, leading to ambiguity about when the Rescission Period would start for a telephone solicitation. A discussion concerning this issue can be found in our prior story