Retail Supplier Receives Waiver To Allow Enrollments Via Online Chat
September 26, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
The following story is brought free of charge to readers byEC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of EnergyChoiceMatters.com
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio granted Constellation
NewEnergy, Inc. and Constellation NewEnergy-Gas Division, LLC’s request for a waiver of
Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-06(C) and 4901:1-29-06(B), which prohibit customer enrollments
without proof of consent, to allow for the use of online interactive written communications in order
to enroll new customers, subject to Staff's recommended conditions
As more fully discussed in our prior story, Constellation in its petition detailed the specific process and disclosures for its chat enrollments. In brief, the chat representative will respond to the customer’s questions, as well as provide specific disclosures. A date/time-stamped transcript of the online chat conversation will be recorded and saved to reflect that the customer is enrolling in the Constellation competitive service. The chat will include a question and the customer’s acknowledgment that the customer is the customer of record or is authorized to switch for the customer of record, and that they are consenting to enroll with Constellation. Specific disclosures and steps are detailed in our prior story (click here)
Specifically, the waiver will expand the current
telephonic enrollment methods such that a customer’s election to pursue digital 'chat'
enrollment will be deemed compliant with the telephonic enrollment rules. Employing
the waiver, when the digital 'chat' enrollment process is selected, the customer’s
enrollment election will occur through text or internet prompts instead of a telephonic voice
communication. The enrollment information is not changed from what would be provided
if the enrollment were telephonic. Only the medium for the enrollment communication will
be different. Further, for digital CRNGS [natural gas] enrollments authorized by this waiver, the
requirement of independent third-party verification will be waived.
"[T]he waiver is approved, subject to Staff’s conditions and
recommendations," PUCO said
As previously reported, Staff had recommended that the Commission grant the waiver with the condition that the waiver provide that all requirements of telephonic enrollment, Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-06(D)(2) and 4901:1-29-06(E), must be followed for interactive chat enrollment, minus the requirement that third-party verification must occur for natural gas chat enrollment
Although not listed as conditions per se or recited in the order, Staff had said that 4901:1-21-06(D)(2) (which the chat must follow) contains the following requirements:
1. The chat transcript must include the CRES provider's identity and the exact purpose of the chat
2. The chat transcript must include a statement and the customer's acknowledgment that the CRES provider is not the customer's current electric utility company and that the customer may choose to remain with the electric utility company or enroll with another CRES provider
3. The chat transcript must include a toll-free telephone number the customer can call to cancel the contract
4. The chat transcript must include, if applicable, a request for and the customer's provision of the customer's electric utility account number
5. The chat transcript must include a request for and the customer's provision of the customer's mailing address.
6. The CRES provider shall provide a copy of the chat transcript to the customer, commission, or the staff within three business days of a request.
Consistent with a Staff recommended condition, PUCO ordered that, "Although Applicants request the rule waiver for an indefinite period of time,
the Commission finds that the waiver should be granted only until the Commission issues
an order addressing the enrollment and TPV requirements in the pending five-year rule
review in Case Nos. 17-1843-EL-ORD and 17-1847-GA-ORD."