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PUC Imposes New Annual Fee On Retail Suppliers

Considers Whether To Assess Unique Fees To Suppliers In Future Based On Number Of Complaints


April 26, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

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The California PUC yesterday adopted without modification a draft resolution establishing the level for a new annual fee on Core Transport Agents (CTA, retail natural gas suppliers), and said that it will continue to consider basing the fee on the number of complaints a CTA has.

The adopted resolution established an annual fee of $2,860 for the year beginning July 1, 2019, on all registered Core Transport Agents.

Previously, an "interim" annual fee of $100 had been applied for CTAs

A 15-percent penalty will be added if payment is not received within 30 days of billing.

The PUC in the adopted resolution noted that the ultimate intent of the CTA Registration program is consumer protection, "suggesting potential future consideration of a complaint-based cost in determining the annual fee."

In the resolution, the PUC said, "Generally, customer complaints increase with the number of customers served. A complaint-based fee would signal to prospective CTAs that they provide accurate information to their potential customers in order to minimize complaints, and their annual fee, while expanding their customer base. The percentage of complaints to customers served by each CTA, that the Commission is required to post, could be one method of deriving this complaint-based fee. As this information is already required, it would not require additional administrative costs, or create a higher fee. This would potentially provide additional consumer protections consistent with the statutory directive for any annual fee to cover 'other facets of consumer protection directly related to the core transport service transactions of core transport agents.'"

The resolution concluded that, "That said, currently, it is difficult to evaluate a complaint-based cost. The CTA-related complaint process at the Commission was implemented only within the last year. While the Commission is seeing an increase in CTA-related consumer contacts, the volume is much lower than data the Commission received from the utilities. The transition of CTA-related complaint processing from the utilities to the Commission may be contributing to this decrease in contact volume, or the increased oversight of the Commission may be encouraging certain CTAs to improve their customer enrollment procedures (i.e. providing clearer information to potential customers); it is difficult to tell. Therefore, we currently lack sufficient data to adequately estimate a complaint-based cost in evaluating the CTA annual fee."

"We may consider a complaint-based variable cost in future assessments of the costs of administering the CTA registration program. As illustrated above, the costs of administering the program will vary year-to-year, based on the number of complaints the Commission receives regarding CTAs. Pursuant to PU Code § 984(b) and D.18-02-002 Ordering Paragraph (OP) 5(v)(a), we ask Commission staff to continue to review the factors that affect the annual costs and, should a change be necessary, prepare a resolution for the Commission," the resolution states

Resolution G-3552

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