Regulator Proposes Change In How Retail Suppliers Shall Refund Customers For Inaccurate Billing Information
October 2, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Connecticut PURA issued a draft order to modify how retail electric suppliers are to refund customers amounts which were overbilled as the result of not providing customers with timely Next Cycle Rate information, under amnesty plans filed by various suppliers
PURA proposed that suppliers issue refunds to customers via utility consolidated billing bill credits, rather than through mailed checks
The draft order states, "In this Decision the Authority modifies the manner in which customer refunds will be distributed. Suppliers will not provide refunds directly to residential customers. Instead, upon approval of an amnesty plan, the supplier will direct all refund monies to the electric distribution companies (EDC), who will apply individual refunds as a bill credit to the affected customer’s EDC account. This will reduce arrearages and, based on the amount of the refund(s), may result in a credit balance for customers. For any account that has been written off, the EDC shall apply the refund to their General Service Charge reserve account for uncollectable funds. Suppliers will still be required to notify affected customers."
"The potential exists for customers to ignore or discard the refund letters and checks that will be issued by suppliers, delaying the receipt of funds that are owed to consumers. Therefore, the Authority will modify the manner in which refunds under the amnesty docket will be distributed to customers. The Authority believes that the process described below will expedite customers receiving the value of their refund and assure that these funds are properly applied," the draft states
"Within thirty (30) days of the Authority’s approval of an amnesty plan, the supplier will provide each EDC the total amount of all refunds as well as a list of customer names, account numbers, and the amount each customer is owed. Where applicable, the EDC will apply each refund as a credit to the customer’s utility account. This will reduce arrearages and, based on the amount of the refund(s), may result in a credit balance for customers. For any account that has been written off, the EDC shall apply the refund to their General Service Charge reserve account for uncollectable funds. After the credits have been applied, the EDCs will notify the supplier as to those customers no longer having an account with the EDC such that a credit could not be applied," the draft states
"Suppliers will be required to issue the PURA-approved letter and insert to all customers receiving a bill credit under their approved amnesty plan. The letter must provide the amount that will be credited to the utility account and will explain the process to be followed if the customer does not have a current utility account. Letters must be mailed by first class U.S. Mail and sent approximately one month before the EDC billing cycle in which accounts will be credited to alert each customer regarding this matter. Suppliers must provide an on-the-envelope message that reads: 'Important Information About Your Utility Refund.' Suppliers must work with the EDCs to coordinate the timing of this activity," the draft states
The draft would provide that the PURA-approved letter and insert cannot be modified. "Suppliers must reproduce the PURA-approved letter using the same font and size as indicated in the letter. Any supplier foreseeing difficulty reproducing the the [sic] PURA-approved letter and insert as specified must describe such difficulties and possible solutions in its Written Exceptions," the draft states. The PURA-approved letter, as proposed under the draft, is attached to PURA's draft interim decision dated October 1, 2019 in Docket 18-12-22
"For all customers whose letters are returned to the supplier as undeliverable and for whom the EDC was unable to apply a credit, the supplier must attempt to phone and email each customer in order to obtain a correct mailing address. If the supplier is unable to contact the customer using the last known telephone number and email address, the supplier must use the National Change of Address database to attempt the identification of a current address for the customer and must resend the letter to any new address found," the draft states
"Any funds that cannot be applied to a utility account as noted above will be held by the EDC for one year during which time the EDC must issue a refund check if contacted by the customer. After one year, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 3‑60c, the EDC will remit any unclaimed amounts to the State of Connecticut in accordance with Connecticut’s abandoned property laws, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 3-65a et seq.," the draft states
The proposed revised process would not apply to any supplier whose amnesty plan was approved prior to the decision or that otherwise may have already issued refunds to customers.