Says Data Voluntarily Provided By One Utility Shows Low-Income Customers Paying More Than SOS
Renews Call For PSC To Require All Utilities To Report On Costs Paid By Retail Choice Customers Versus Default Service
June 21, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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In comments on an FY 2020 plan concerning the electric universal service program (EUSP) in Maryland, the Office of People’s Counsel said that low-income customers on competitive retail electric supply at the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) have incurred, "massive net losses" versus SOS pricing
OPC said that only SMECO agreed to provide an aggregate comparison of costs for EUSP and Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) retail electric customers on competitive supply versus SOS. OPC said that the Exelon utilities did not provide the data on the grounds that costs to compile and provide the data may not be recoverable in rates since the PSC has not directed the utilities to provide the data.
OPC said, "SMECO’s aggregate billing data reveals massive net losses for each of the four reported
months ... an
overall net loss of $78,764.8 -- representing just four of the past twelve months from the utility
with the smallest customer base among the five reporting utilities."
Specifically, OPC reported that the aggregate loss for EUSP/MEAP customers on competitive supply, versus SOS, was as follows for the billing periods:
Billing Period (Loss)
June 2018 ($14,759.78)
September 2018 ($16,179.92)
December 2018 ($24,895.90)
March 2019 ($22,929.25)
During these billing period, the percent of EUSP/MEAP customers at SMECO on competitive retail supply varied from 11% to 30%.
OPC said, "Note that because these numbers are aggregated, it is not possible to tell how many of these
EUSP/MEAP customers paid more than if they had remained on SMECO’s SOS rate. In fact, in
September 2018, four customers of a supplier collectively saved $13.13. Three other customers
collectively saved 11 cents in December, 2018. Finally, a group of 23 customers also collectively
saved $92.47 in March 2019. Despite these modest collective gains enjoyed by a dozen-and-a-half,
hundreds of other customers spent much more for the same number of kilowatt hours that
could have been acquired for tens-of-thousands of dollars less over that period. Moreover,
collectively these customers consumed much more of the limited EUSP/MEAP credits than if the
entire group had paid SMECO’s SOS rate rather than whatever price the suppliers had charged
"The additional data provided by SMECO shows that low-income customers served by retail
suppliers paid higher prices in the aggregate for all the reported periods. In light of this data, OPC
urges the Commission to direct the rest of the electric companies to provide aggregate billing data," OPC said
For the past three years, OPC has requested that the Commission direct the utilities to
provide the aggregated billing data needed to determine if EUSP participants purchasing electricity
from retail suppliers are using more of the limited funds intended to provide adequate benefits than would be the case if those customers were instead charged the Standard Offer Service rate by their local utilities.
Last year, the PSC only directed the EDCs to report the number of EUSP (and MEAP) customers that receive electric or gas supply from a retail supplier, but not aggregate cost comparisons
OPC said that such data shows that in each reported quarter, energy assistance customers (i.e. those
receiving EUSP and/or MEAP) are more likely to be served by a competitive retail supplier than
residential customers as a whole.
For example, for June, 2018, 24.1% of residential customers in BGE’s service territory were served by electric suppliers, OPC said. The EUSP/MEAP customer data BGE provided for that period shows that 28.8% of energy assistance customers were served by retail suppliers, OPC said
For March 2019, OPC reported the percent of EUSP/MEAP customers on competitive supply, versus the overall number of residential customers on competitive supply, as follows: