ESCO Opposes New York Utilities' Sought Confirmation That Co-Marketing With Third Party For Non-Utility Service, Use Of Utility Logos Is Not Prohibited By Code Of Conduct Restrictions
November 14, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Family Energy Inc. filed comments with the New York PSC in opposition to a request from the three National Grid utilities for a declaratory ruling that certain provisions on the utilities' respective codes of conduct restrictions do not apply to one or more of the utilities' plans to enter into an arrangement with a third-party provider of weatherization and home energy efficiency services that would include use of the KEDNY, KEDLI, Niagara Mohawk, and/or National Grid names and/or service marks by such third party alongside their own in the marketing and offering of such services.
As more fully detailed in our prior story, the National Grid companies are seeking the order to permit a co-marketing campaign for various weatherization services provided by Sealed, whereby the KEDNY, KEDLI, Niagara Mohawk and/or National Grid corporate names, service marks, logos, etc. would appear alongside the Sealed name, service mark, logo, etc., and would be used by Sealed for marketing the Sealed Program. The utilities sought a waiver of relevant code of conduct provisions to the extent the PSC deems that restrictions in the code would otherwise apply
Family Energy said in comments to the PSC said, "the co-branding scheme proposed by National Grid is expressly prohibited by its code of conduct."
"Presently, National Grid’s Code of Conduct expressly states that 'no non-National Grid company will be allowed to use the same name, trade names, trademarks, service names, service marks or a derivative of a name of [National Grid] in any manner,'" Family Energy said
"Despite the plain language of National Grid’s Code of Conduct, National Grid contends that the Co-Branding Scheme is permissible because National Grid would 'retain
control' over how its name and logo are used, and that National Grid would not be 'selling' such marketing attributes. No such exceptions are stated—either expressly or by implication—in National Grid’s Code of Conduct or elsewhere. Moreover, the concept that National Grid would have unfettered and unchecked discretion to pick and choose which companies are entitled to its marketing attributes, which are not, and under which circumstances is a standard that would swallow the fundamental purpose of the Codes of Conduct in the first place. The animating concern driving the Codes of Conduct is market fairness and not, as National Grid’s argument seems to suggest, protection of utility brand identity for the utilities’ sake," Family Energy said
"In the alternative, National Grid argues that if the Co-Branding Scheme is prohibited by its Code of Conduct, the Commission should issue a waiver because the arrangement has the potential to provide energy-efficiency products to consumers. Yet the Petition fails to recognize that hundreds, if not thousands, of energy-related market participants exist in New York and offer competing or complementary products and services also designed to achieve the Commission’s diverse range of clean energy objectives and the State’s nation-leading net-zero carbon target ... There appear to be no guidelines or standards for deciding which among those entities receives distinct marketing advantages, nor a process or criteria by which those entities are appraised of such opportunities and ultimately selected," Family Energy said
"The long-envisioned Distributed System Platform Provider should be just that—a platform provider—not a platform decider. It should encourage and promote a robust marketplace for products that provide system value, rather than providing advantages to technologies and/or service providers at the expense of others or to tip the scales of customer choice," Family Energy said
"Family respectfully requests that the petition be denied and that the Commission take reasonably appropriate action to ensure that there is both a perception and reality of a level playing field for competitive providers that are engaged or seeking to become engaged in consumer-facing REV marketplaces," Family Energy said