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Regulator Extends Deadline For Initial Election Of Retail Supplier Participation In Amnesty Program

Addresses Issues Raised Regarding Self-Reporting Of "Violations"

February 12, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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In response to a motion from the Retail Energy Supply Association, the Connecticut PURA has provided further guidance and details regarding its retail supplier amnesty program for violations of Next Cycle Rate information requirements exclusively first reported in December that PURA was to launch an amnesty program under which suppliers could avoid civil penalties for Next Cycle Rate violations if suppliers provided refunds to affected customers exclusively reported in January that PURA has issued a schedule and deadline for suppliers to participate in the amnesty program, and set forth various requirements

RESA had sought a technical conference to address certain issues raised by RESA.

PURA declined to hold a technical conference, but did issue several responses to RESA's concerns

RESA noted that a prior procedural order did not address the ramifications for a supplier self-reporting "violations" if amnesty is not granted

PURA said in response that, "The Authority understands RESA’s concerns regarding the ramifications of self-reporting violations. The Authority will consider all self-reporting of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2) violations in the instant docket as confidential reporting submitted as part of a settlement attempt, and the self-reporting will not be used in a later proceeding."

However, PURA also said that, "If a supplier provides the Authority its Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2) violation information, but later elects not to participate in this docket, the Authority does not waive its right to issue interrogatories to the supplier in its individual docket and seek to obtain the Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2) violation information as part of an enforcement action in that docket. The Authority would not, however, notice information from the present docket into an individual enforcement docket."

Furthermore, PURA stressed, "The Authority can offer assurances only to the scope of amnesty it is offering and the confidentiality of its process. The Authority cannot speak to actions by the Office of Consumer Counsel or the Office of the Attorney General, other than to assure suppliers that admission of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2) violations gained through this docket will be subject to protective orders."

Regarding concerns about if self-reporting does not result in amnesty, PURA said "The Authority indicated in the Notice of Proceeding what will be required of any proposed reimbursement plan. It is doubtful that any supplier will find it too difficult to meet the minimal requirements of what the Authority proposed. If the Authority rejects a supplier’s plan, the supplier would be allowed to resubmit a plan within timeframe specified in the Notice of Proceeding. Likewise, if throughout the course of the proceeding some suppliers find they cannot meet the requirements or are unwilling to accept modifications to their plans, the Authority will consider the process that has occurred to that point a settlement negotiation and the material submitted will not be used in a later proceeding."

While RESA had said PURA's authority to enforce the Next Cycle Rate statute had been called into question in another proceeding, PURA said, "PURA does not doubt its authority to establish this docket or to enforce violations of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2). The legislature instructed PURA to require the submission of the next cycle rate as part of the Supply Summary on a customer’s bill, and has granted PURA the authority to regulate electric suppliers and enforce the statutory provisions is passes to effect that regulation. Because PURA has the authority to prosecute violations of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2), it also has the discretion to forego prosecution under the appropriate circumstances. If RESA doubts PURA’s authority, it may elect not to participate in this amnesty proceeding and dispute PURA’s authority in each of the individual dockets PURA will open to enforce Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245d(a)(2) violations."

PURA also offered the following guidance: "The Authority initiated the present docket to offer suppliers the opportunity to rectify next cycle rate violations by reimbursing the customers affected rather than undergoing individual enforcement actions and paying fines to the Authority. The Authority recognizes this docket to be an innovative process that many suppliers will not have participated in previously. To ensure this docket accomplishes the goals of making customers whole in a timely fashion, suppliers must ensure they adhere to the deadlines set forth in the Notice of Proceeding. Ensuring adherence to the deadline will require suppliers to submit concerns to the Authority in a timely manner, and not at 12:30 p.m. the day before compliance is due."

While PURA declined to suspend the procedural schedule for amnesty, PURA said, "because suppliers could not benefit from the content of this ruling before the deadline for notifying the Authority of participation in the docket had passed, the Authority will extend the deadline for notification to February 20, 2019."

"The remaining deadlines in the docket are unchanged unless a motion for extension of time is filed and granted. Further questions may be directed to the Authority in a timely manner," PURA said

Docket No. 18-12-22

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