UI "Open" To Developing Customer Notice Of Incorrect Default Service Rates That Is "Acceptable" To PURA and Interested Parties, Rejects Several Suggestions From Retail Suppliers
June 10, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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In a letter to the Connecticut PURA concerning a proposed process to inform recently switched customers of incorrect standard service rates that had been posted in May, United Illuminating said that it is, "open to developing a customer notice and outreach plan that is acceptable to the Authority and any interested parties," though UI opposed several alternatives suggested by the Retail Energy Supply Association
On average across various customer classes, the incorrect standard service rates that were posted were approximately 0.6 cents per kWh higher than the correct rates
For residential customers, UI's correct Standard Service rate effective July 1 is 8.3532 cents per kWh, versus the previously filed incorrect rate of 8.9752 cents per kWh. The current January-June residential standard service rate is 11.2263¢/kWh cents per kWh
PURA had expressed concerns that such inaccurate rates may have influenced customers' electricity shopping decisions, and directed UI to file a list of recently switched customers
PURA had also said that, upon review of such information, the Authority may require UI to contact those customers to inform them of the standard service rate error, allow them to switch to standard service, and compensate the customer for any supplier cancellation fee resulting from the switch
As exclusively reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com, UI on June 5 filed the customer list, as well as a letter it said it intended to send to recently switched customers on June 7. The letter, in addition to informing customers of the correct standard service rates, encourages customers to, "Please review your generation services supplier choice, and if the corrected rates have impacted your supplier choice, consider taking additional steps based on the correct SS rates, which may include re-enrolling with that supplier or another supplier, or reverting to SS."
RESA raised several concerns with the letter (see details here), and PURA granted a temporary emergency stay of UI's mailing of the letter as PURA considered RESA's position
As previously reported, RESA does not have an objection to UI sending letters to all of its Standard Service customers notifying them of the corrected Standard Service rates. However, RESA sought a modification to the group of customers receiving the letters (noting that the letter is proposed to be sent to customers switching from one supplier to another, not just those switching from standard service) and also expressed concern with language encouraging customers to review their choice, arguing that such encouragement interfered with suppliers' contracts.
In commenting on UI's proposal, RESA has also offered potential alternatives to the UI letter to customers. "For example, the Authority could order UI to issue on-bill credits or checks to customers for the positive difference between the corrected Standard Service rate and the amount those customers are paying competitive suppliers. The Authority could also require UI to implement the Standard Service rates on July 1, 2019 as originally filed and to adjust its future Standard Service rates to account for any resulting over-collections. Either of these solutions would put the onus for the error on the party who caused it and avoid impairment of supplier contractual expectations that could violate the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution," RESA had said
UI opposed these alternatives
"As an alternative to the Authority’s proposed customer outreach, RESA suggests that PURA should order UI to implement the Standard Service rates on July 1, 2019 as originally filed and adjust its future rates to account for any resulting over-collections, or issue on-bill credits to customers for the difference between the corrected rates and customer’s supplier rate. These proposals request the Authority to order UI to charge all customers incorrect rates starting July 1, 2019. This proposal should be rejected outright as the Authority should avoid any solution that requires customers to be billed at incorrect rates, which appears to undermine the most basic of consumer protections," UI said
"The Company shares the Authority’s goal of providing customers with additional information with regard to the rates approved on May 29, 2019, with sufficient notice prior to the July 1, 2019 rate change. Furthermore, the Company is open to developing a customer notice and outreach plan that is acceptable to the Authority and any interested parties," UI said