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Retail Suppliers Say Regulator's New Directive For Suppliers To Communicate To Customers The Date When An Enrollment Will Process Is Not Enforceable

April 23, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Retail Energy Supply Association recently filed a motion asking the Connecticut PURA to reconsider several directives PURA issued in ruling on a motion, including the requirement for suppliers to obtain meter read dates from customers, and to communicate a specific start date for service to customers.

PURA's new directives were exclusively first reported by in March

Among other things, PURA (in a Motion No. 11 Ruling) imposed general requirements on all electric suppliers to:

(i) provide specific descriptions in contracts and marketing of when a customer’s enrollment will process;

(ii) inform customers of where meter read information appears on their bills; and

(iii) secure meter read information from the customer during the enrollment process (collectively, the 'New Requirements')

PURA's ruling also stated that suppliers would be subjected to investigation and penalties for consistently submitting high volumes of inaccurate expiration dates as part of the information suppliers provide to the EDCs for presentation on customer bills.

RESA called the New Requirements inconsistent with Authority precedent.

RESA noted that in a decision in Docket 13-07-18RE01, the Authority said that, "it is difficult to determine the exact date on which a customer’s meter will be read . . . ."

"Thus, the Authority reconsidered a prior requirement that suppliers provide the exact start and end date of a contract at the time of enrollment. Instead, '[b]ased on the evidence, the Authority direct[ed] suppliers to inform customers that their contract will begin on the meter read date following acceptance of an enrollment by the EDC,'" RESA said of such prior decision

"Moreover, in the Motion No. 11 Ruling itself, the Authority continued to recognize the difficulty in determining a customer’s exact enrollment date when enrollments are submitted in close proximity to a customer meter read date. However, this difficulty does not only exist when enrollments are submitted near the customer’s scheduled meter read date; it can also occur at other times. Meter reading schedules can and do change. In fact, even the EDCs do not provide customers with exact meter read dates. The Authority should not impose a requirement that electric suppliers provide customers with more precise information than that required of the companies that control the timing of the meter reading schedule - the EDCs. Therefore, the Authority should reconsider the requirement that electric suppliers provide specific descriptions in their contracts and marketing of when a customer’s enrollment will occur," RESA said

RESA noted that in communicating meter read dates to customers, both EDCs inform customers that the meter read will occur "on or about" the listed date

RESA further said that the directives in the motion, "also violate the tenets of fundamental fairness because participants did not receive notice that the Authority would consider such issues in the instant proceeding, there is no evidence about the need for or appropriateness of such measures in the record, and suppliers who were not a party to this proceeding (e.g., suppliers who receive a license in the future) have no reasonable way of knowing about these requirements."

RESA said that the proceeding was opened, "to examine whether the information required under Conn. Gen. Stat. §16-245d(a)(2) is being timely provided by suppliers and how that information is being displayed on customer bills."

RESA said that the New Requirements, "go beyond this stated purpose and addresses supplier marketing and contracting requirements."

"[N]o participant had notice that these issues would be considered in this proceeding. In fact, the New Requirements were not even addressed in the Authority’s decision. Instead, they were imposed in a motion ruling following the decision. Because the Authority did not provide notice that the New Requirements would be considered as part of this proceeding, suppliers were deprived of the opportunity to present evidence about the impact of these requirements on customers and the market," RESA said

"The New Requirements in the Motion No. 11 Ruling are statements issued by the Authority that apply generally to all electric suppliers in the State of Connecticut and prescribe law or policy. Thus, they are 'regulations' that must be adopted pursuant to specific procedural requirements, which the Authority did not follow. As a consequence, the New Requirements were not properly adopted and are not enforceable," RESA said

Docket 14-07-19RE05

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