Texas PUC Staff Propose Rule Codifying How Retail Providers May Obtain Low-Income Customer List, Explicit Process For New REPs To Receive List
January 11, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas have filed a draft proposal for publication that would amend 16 TAC 25.45 to codify the process by which a retail electric provider requests and agrees to reimburse the Commission for the customer identification service from the low-income list administrator (LILA)
LILA maintains a list of low-income customers (based on eligibility standards established by rule) to facilitate the voluntary offering of customer service, discounts, bill payment assistance, or other methods of assistance by REPs to such customers.
By statute, REPs must reimburse the Commission for such list.
The proposed amendments would codify that REPs may elect to obtain the low-income customer identification service from the LILA on an annual basis, under the following process:
(1) Not later than May 1 of each year, commission staff will open a project in which a REP may request the low-income customer identification service for the upcoming fiscal year beginning September 1.
(2) A REP must file its request for the low-income customer identification service in the project opened for that purpose not later than July 31 of each year. In its filing, the REP must state its agreement to reimburse the commission for the cost of developing the list.
(3) Not later than August 31 of each year, if the commission has received a request from one or more REPs under paragraph (2) above, the commission will enter an order listing the name of each REP that filed a request, and establishing the amount that each REP will pay as determined under paragraph (4) below
(4) Unless otherwise provided by the commission based on the agreement of the REPs requesting to obtain the low-income identification service, the total cost of the low-income customer identification service will be divided equally among the REPs that have filed a request under paragraph (2) above
(5) Provided that at least one REP requests the low-income customer identification service in accordance with paragraph (2) above, a REP that is newly certificated after July 31 may obtain the low-income customer identification service at no cost until the next program year, when the REP has the opportunity to submit a timely request under paragraph (2) above. To obtain the low-income customer identification service, the newly-certificated REP must file a request in the project opened under paragraph (1) above
The proposed process for newly certified REPs to obtain the list is notable because PURA §17.007, establishing the LILA process, was silent with respect to newly certificated REPs.
Specifically, PURA §17.007(d) provides that the Commission (PUC) may not submit a request to the Health and Human Services Commission to provide for a process to identify low-income electric customers for a fiscal year unless:
(1) the commission receives a request from one or more retail electric providers not later than July 31 of the previous fiscal year for a list of low-income electric customers to be developed; and
(2) each retail electric provider that submits a request to the commission under Subdivision (1) agrees to reimburse the commission for the cost of development of the list on terms agreed to by the commission and the provider.
Notably, while §17.007(d) states that the list may only be produced if at least one REP requests such list by July 31, and that any REPs seeking the list under Subdivision (1) [in other words, those filing a request by July 31] must reimburse the Commission, §17.007(d) does not address if, after the list has been authorized due to the required conditions being met, a new REP (or, for that matter, a REP desiring the list after the deadline due to a change in business model and market strategy) can obtain the list.