Pa. Utility To Continue Until 2023 Billing Practice Found By PUC To Be "Discriminatory" Against Retail Suppliers, Unless "Contractually Feasible" To End Practice Sooner
March 19, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc. ("Columbia") has filed a response to a directive from the Pennsylvania PUC for Columbia to report how it will comply with 66 Pa.C.S. § 1502, after the PUC found that Columbia's practice of providing "on-bill" billing for non-utility services to only two select providers is, "discriminatory."
Currently, Columbia’s two agreements for the provision of 'on bill' billing are with Columbia Service Partners, Inc. (CSP) and Nicor Energy Services Company (Nicor), both former affiliates of Columbia (but both of which are now unaffiliated with Columbia)
As previously reported, the PUC declined to immediately order Columbia to provide such "on-bill" billing for all retail supplier non-commodity products, as the PUC stated that reasonable limits may be required, but did direct Columbia to implement any solution in a non-discriminatory manner
The PUC did state in its December order that, "We conclude, under the given facts, that Columbia’s billing practice is discriminatory."
Retail suppliers had said in the case that they did not seek to halt Columbia’s billing practice and proposed, rather, that the Commission require Columbia to offer suppliers the same option for 'on bill' billing of non-commodity goods and services
The PUC in December specifically directed that, "Columbia must comply with Section 1502 of the Code and provide its 'on bill' billing policy in a way that is nondiscriminatory. In other words, Columbia must either provide such a service to all entities that provide such non-basic services or must discontinue the 'on bill' billing policy. Columbia may not continue to provide this ability to only the two entities referenced in this case. Should Columbia provide the service to all entities providing non-basic services, we recognize the potential need for reasonable limitations, such as a requirement that the entities be able to provide information to Columbia in a manner that conforms to Columbia’s billing practices, spacing and technologies. As such, we shall require Columbia to report to this Commission’s Bureau of Technical Utility Services, within 60 days of the entry day of this Opinion and Order, its methodology for coming into compliance with Section 1502 of the Code."
In response, Columbia said in its filing that "Columbia proposes to comply with the Commission's directive and Sections 1502 and 2203(4) of the Public Utility Code, by discontinuing its 'on-bill' billing practice."
Columbia said that it will be providing notice to CSP that Columbia will not renew its contract with CSP and that Columbia will no longer provide CSP with access to its bills for "on bill" billing services as of the end of its current contract term in September 2019.
"Likewise, Columbia will no longer provide Nicor with access to its bills as of the end of its current contract term with Nicor, which expires in January of 2023, or sooner if contractually feasible," Columbia said