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PUC Rejects Customer Switch Block Mechanism Proposed By Staff

Will Allow Retail Suppliers To Bill "Non-Jurisdictional Service" On Utility Bills If Utility Offers Service To Others, Requires Nondiscriminatory Access -- Does Not Mandate Inclusion Of Retail Supplier Non-Jurisdictional Charges

PUC Rejects Utility Proposal That All Retail Supplier Charges Be "Summarized In One Price Per kWh"

Rejects Sought Requirement Shadow Billing Of Default Service

February 26, 2020

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Copyright 2010-20
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, in a rulemaking order, has denied a proposal from Staff that would have allowed electricity customers to request a switch block on their account

The Staff draft rule would have provided that, "Each electric utility shall allow any customer to request a competitive retail electric service provider block be placed on their account. The block shall prevent the customer generation service provider from being switched without the customer’s authorization to the electric utility in the form of a customer provided code or other customer identifiable manner. The release shall be provided to the electric utility from the customer or other authorized persons on the account. The code shall be considered confidential customer information."

The proposal had been first reported by

In an order on proposed changes to the electric utility billing and related rules, PUCO rejected the proposed switch block

"Upon review of all comments offered, the Commission declines to adopt Staff’s proposal to include a CRES provider switching block and agrees that current consumer protections are adequate. Exhaustive procedures are already in place to prevent CRES provider abuses, such as slamming (e.g., R.C. 4928.10; Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-10- 21(H) and 4901:1-21-08(C)). Also, consumers can register for the national “Do Not Call Registry” to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls from CRES providers or can request that the electric utility exclude their names from mass customer lists made available to CRES providers. Finally, and in response to AEP Ohio’s, OCC’s, and OPAE’s concerns, we have already provided consumers with several layers of protections designed to prevent unwanted CRES provider switching during different stages of the sales process, such as third-party verification following in-person sales and contract rescission periods. The above regulations were specifically targeted towards the protection of vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and disabled, and we believe the rules strike an adequate balance between protecting these populations and allowing for fair competition. Therefore, the proposed additional protection is unnecessary," PUCO said

Turning to another major issue in the rulemaking, the PUC denied a Staff proposal to prohibit the billing of non-commodity goods or services from a third party on utility bills

As previously reported, the draft rules would have provided that, "No consolidated bill format shall contain charges for non-commodity goods or services from a thirty party of the EDU."

PUCO rejected this proposal, declining to adopt Staff’s proposed outright prohibition of EDUs being able to list (as termed by Staff) 'non-commodity goods and services' charges on consolidated bills

PUCO adopted a new term, "non-jurisdictional service", and revisions related to it

'Non-jurisdictional services' means services which do not meet the definition of 'retail electric service' set forth in division (A)(27) of section 4928.01 of the Revised Code.

In brief, while PUCO will not mandate that EDUs bill for the non-jurisdictional services of retail suppliers, any such billing of non-jurisdictional service (if elected by the EDU) must be done on a nondiscriminatory basis

PUCO acknowledged IGS’s concern about unreasonable preferences and competitive advantages for the EDU billing of non-jurisdictional services, considering the current rules have not directly addressed the situation where an EDU consistently enters into a contract only with the EDU’s affiliate regarding placement of only that affiliate’s non-jurisdictional service charges on the EDU’s bill at the exclusion of all potential providers.

"To promote competition and fairness between all parties, the Commission has adopted amended subsection (A) to include the following sentence at the end of that provision, 'An electric utility cannot discriminate or unduly restrict a customer’s CRES provider from including non-jurisdictional charges on a consolidated electric bill.' The EDU must allow the customer’s CRES provider, on an open and nondiscriminatory basis, access to the consolidated bill to list non-jurisdictional service charges," PUCO said

"The EDU must allow the customer’s CRES provider, on an open and nondiscriminatory basis, access to the consolidated bill to list the newly termed, 'non-jurisdictional services' charges. While this provision does not force the EDU to place the customer’s CRES provider’s non-jurisdictional service on the consolidated bill, the Commission believes its amendment strikes a middle ground whereby fairness to the CRES provider is accounted for as is the EDU’s freedom to contract is respected," PUCO said

Concerning another issue, as previously reported, AEP Ohio recommended adding subsection (B)(25) that would require bills to itemize all CRES charges and to summarize the charges in one price per kWh presentation to be readily comparable to the price-to-compare, with only fees associated with a separate product or service excluded

PUCO rejected this proposal. "The Commission agrees with the CRES providers in that any rule regarding CRES charges does not belong in Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-10-22, which specifically addresses EDU-only billing. Therefore, AEP Ohio’s recommendation is rejected," PUCO said

PUCO also rejected OCC's sought requirement that EDUs should be required to shadow-bill default service costs and present this information on shopping customers' bills

"The Commission agrees with the EDUs that OCC’s shadow billing requirement is unnecessary. The price-to-compare is already on the customer’s bill, and it allows the customer to calculate total savings or spending themselves without the need for EDUs to provide them in an annual report. In addition, the applicable SSO rate is now displayed on the Commission’s “apples to apples” website, which is available at Therefore, OCC’s recommendation is rejected," PUCO said

This is a breaking news alert. A full analysis of PUCO's 193-page order on the rules will follow

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