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New York Bill Would Require ESCOs To Obtain Express Consent For Price Changes

Other Bills Address Slamming Penalties, ESCO Notices, Supplier Consolidated Billing, Expansion Of Choice To All Customers

January 29, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Various bills have been filed in the new New York legislative session addressing ESCO matters

Express Consent For Price Change

A02474 would require that ESCOs obtain express consent for a price change, or a change in a product from fixed to variable (or vice versa). The bill would do so by defining, "[a] change in price or a change to or from fixed or variable pricing," as material, and, and existing law, express consent is required for material changes

Language immediately following such added text would still provide that, "This shall not restrict an ESCO from renewing a contract by clearly informing the customer in writing, not less than thirty days nor more than sixty days prior to the renewal date, of the renewal terms and of his or her option not to accept the renewal offer," but A02474 would add language stating that no termination fee shall be charged to a customer whose express consent has not been obtained to any change in material terms and conditions

A02474 would also set forth renewal notice requirements, including a requirement that, as part of the renewal information, the ESCO must provide: the price that is charged by the customer's distribution utility, and also information notifying the customer how they may compare past bills with what they would have been charged had they received energy services from their respective distribution utility, including, the internet address of any bill calculator offered by such customer's distribution utility's website.

Slamming Penalties, Agency Defined

S02376 would codify in law prohibitions against slamming, leaving to the PSC the specific verification requirements needed for enrollment

Most notably, S02376 would grant the PSC the authority to levy administrative penalties (up to $1,000 per violation) for slamming, while also subjecting slamming violations to the existing judicial penalty authority in statute.

S02376 would also specify that, "the act of any person, firm or corporation acting as an agent or representative of a supplier of gas or electric service shall be deemed to be the act of such supplier of gas or electric service," with respect to enrollment and slamming

A02458, another slamming bill, includes many of the provisions in S02376, but would also provide that the PSC could adopt a "freeze" on ESCO access to utility systems to prevent slamming

A02458 provides that, "hold order or freeze" shall mean a directive to retain the supplier of gas or electric service; and

A02458 provides that, "The commission may, if it determines it to be necessary, require any gas or electric corporation that owns or operates the transmission lines that control routing, selection, or billing functions necessary to implement a hold order or freeze to offer it to end- use customers as a method of reducing incidents of unauthorized changes in suppliers of gas or electric service. Such corporation shall perform any hold order or freeze procedure in a non-discriminatory and competitively neutral manner that does not give such corporation an advantage over its competitors in the gas or electric service market."

A02458 would further require ESCOs, for new customers, to be responsible for including an insert, with the customer's first bill, providing a conspicuous notice of the change in their supplier, or or shall send a separate notice within sixty days informing the customer that such change in supplier was made.

Notice Of ESCO Service

S01356 would require that ESCOs send their customers an annual notice informing the customer that they are receiving service from an energy service company

Expansion Of Choice

A02752 would require that all customers of electric corporations and natural gas corporations shall have the opportunity to take service from an ESCO

A02752 would provide that, "Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, require that all customers of electric corporations and natural gas corporations shall have the opportunity to purchase electricity services and natural gas services from any supplier of electricity and natural gas; and that any electric corporation and natural gas corporation shall provide transmission and distribution services from any supplier of electricity and natural gas to any customer with which such supplier has an agreement for provision of electricity services and natural gas services."

Supplier Consolidated Billing

S01272 would require the introduction of supplier consolidated billing.

S01272 would require that, "Every customer of an energy services company shall have the option to receive a single consolidated bill for both ESCO and utility corporation services from either the ESCO, if it offers a consolidated bill, or the utility corporation."

Furthermore, S01272 would require that, "The commission [PSC] shall ensure that customers who elect to receive a consolidated bill from an ESCO are provided a credit or other rate adjustment reflecting the costs avoided by the utility corporation in no longer billing the customer directly, that utilities recover prudently incurred and incremental costs related to implementing the single consolidated bill option and that utilities have an opportunity to earn an appropriate incentive for the efficient implementation of the single consolidated bill option."

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