New Illinois Energy Affordability Inquiry To Examine Number Of Customers Served By Alternative Retail Suppliers Subject To Disconnection For Non-Payment
Low-Income Customer Access To Community Solar, Distributed Generation To Also Be Considered
March 24, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Illinois Commerce Commission's new inquiry into energy affordability will include an examination of the number of customers subject to disconnection that are served by alternative energy suppliers, as well as customer access to community solar and energy efficiency programs
In the NOI which has now been issued, the ICC asks the public electric and natural gas utilities to provide, among other things, information on the number of accounts that were involuntarily disconnected for non-payment, including the number of such accounts that received energy service from a competitive retail (natural gas or electricity) provider.
Additionally, utilities shall report the number of accounts that entered into a Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA), including the number of such accounts that received energy service from an independent (natural gas or electricity) provider.
The information listed above shall be provided by census block, census block group, census tract, zip code, zip code plus four and/or as many categories as available
As previously reported, retail suppliers in Illinois are, by new statute, prohibited from providing service to a customer if the customer received financial assistance in the last 12 months from either the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or, at the time of enrollment, is participating in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan, except that service to such customers is allowed under a guaranteed savings program or (for electricity only) a government aggregation
However, the energy affordability inquiry may impact a universe of customers broader than those customers addressed by the statute noted above
Indeed, one of the issues in the Notice of Inquiry is how to define the terms "Low-Income" and "Vulnerable Customers"
Other information sought by the ICC includes:
• the number of residential customer accounts that were disconnected during the period for non-payment and that remained disconnected (displacement) during the entire period
• the number of residential customer accounts that received service and had past due balances;
• the number of residential customer accounts that were on deferred payment arrangements;
• the number of residential customer accounts that were on an arrearage reduction program;
• the number of residential customer accounts for which the utility required a deposit and the average size of residential deposits;
• the amount of payment and the number of residential customer accounts that received bill payment assistance, including but not limited to low-income energy assistance programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), state programs such as the Percentage of Income Payment Program (PIPP), utility programs, and social service programs such as Catholic Charities, Salvation Army or other charitable service organizations
Furthermore, the energy affordability inquiry will address customer access to additional service such as community solar and distributed generation
The NOI asks:
• What distributed and community solar programs are currently available to customers that increase affordability and/or the ability of customers to receive essential levels of electric services, how effective are the programs at achieving these objectives, and what changes could make the programs more effective?
• Are there programs not currently available in Illinois, including programs adopted in other states, that could increase affordability and/or the ability of customers to receive essential levels of electric services
The NOI also asks what changes could be made to utility energy efficiency programs to make them more effective at increasing the affordability and/or the ability of customers to receive essential levels of electric services?
The NOI also directs utilities to identify obstacles faced by low-income consumers that prevent them from participating in weatherization programs