Texas Retail Provider To Pay $35,000 Under Settlement With PUC Staff Concerning Number Of Decimal Places Shown In Rates
September 5, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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Gexa Energy, LP would pay $35,000 under a settlement with Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to resolve alleged violations of PURA § 17.004(a) and 16 Texas Administrative Code
(TAC) §§ 25.475, regarding compliance with general retail electric provider requirements and
information disclosures to residential and small commercial customers, and 25.479, regarding
issuance and format of bills.
Under PURA § 17.004(a), all buyers of retail electric services are entitled to customer
protection standards, including protection from fraudulent, unfair, misleading, deceptive,
or anticompetitive practices, including protection from being billed for services that were
not authorized or provided. Buyers of retail electric services are also entitled to accuracy
of metering and billing.
Under 16 TAC § 25.475(c)(1)(C), a REP is required to provide a customer with the terms
of service (TOS), electricity facts label (EFL) and your rights as a customer document upon
enrollment. Under 16 TAC § 25.475(c)(1)(A), these documents must be clear and not
misleading, fraudulent, unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive.
The settlement states that, "If a REP includes an energy charge (a charge based on the kWh consumed), 16 TAC
§ 25.479(c)(3)(C) requires the energy charge be applied in a manner consistent with its
definition, and that the term 'energy charge' and its definition be easily located on the
REP's website and available to a customer free of charge upon request."
The settlement states, "Over approximately 10 years [2008 - 2018], Gexa presented an energy charge on EFLs expressed to four
decimal places, while actual energy charges included six decimal places. The omitted
information represented the one-thousandth and ten-thousandth of a cent values. Gexa did
not indicate that the energy charge per kilowatt-hour presented on these EFLs was an
abbreviated representation of the full energy charge. Customers could therefore reasonably
infer that the energy charge shown on these EFLs was the full energy charge."
The settlement states, "Similarly, during a 27-month period [November 2016 to January 2019], Gexa presented an energy charge on electric bills
that included four decimal places rather than presenting the full energy charge, which
included six decimal places."
The settlement states, "In total, 96,087 residential customers received bills that reflected an energy charge that was
not the full energy charge extending to six decimal places."
The settlement states, "Gexa's method of disclosing customers' energy charges on EFLs and bills as described
above resulted in customers receiving contract documents and bills that described a
different energy charge than the energy charge Gexa actually used to calculate customers'
total bill amounts. Accordingly, Staff asserts that Gexa violated PURA § 17.004(a)(1) and (a)(7), as well as 16 TAC § 25.475(c)(1)(A) for issuing bills and contract documents to
customers that contained misleading or deceptive information."
The settlement states, "Staff asserts that Gexa also violated 16 TAC § 25.479(c)(3)(C) by disclosing an energy
charge on customers' bills that was not the full energy charge used to calculate the total
amount owed per billing cycle."
The settlement states, "Gexa identified 44,732 customers who were over-billed because the energy charge was
expressed to only four decimal places."
The settlement states, "Of the customers over-billed, Gexa identified 37,122 that remained current Gexa customers
at the time the over-billing was detected. Gexa refunded those customer accounts an
aggregated total of $10,423.25."
The settlement states, "The remaining 7,610 over-billed customers were no longer Gexa customers at the time the
over-billing was detected. Gexa will refund these individuals by issuing checks for each
customer's over-billed amount. Gexa will mail the checks to the most recent address in
Gexa's records for each customer."
The settlement states, "Gexa owes these 7,610 customers an aggregate total of $950.49, averaging roughly $0.12 per customer."
The settlement states, "Of the remaining 51,355 customers who received bills with energy charges expressed to four decimal places, 51,167
were under-billed and 188 were billed the same amount they would have been billed with an energy charge expressed
to six decimal places. Gexa has not and will not bill the customers who were under-charged as a result of this practice."
The settlement states, "Gexa has now modified the energy charge displayed on customers' electric bills and EFLs
to reflect the full charge. Gexa has also enacted controls to prevent any future discrepancy
in the actual energy charge used to calculate customers' bills and the energy charge
displayed on bills and contract documents."