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State Regulator's Staff Gives View On Definition Of Small C&I Customer, With Respect To Newly Adopted Marketing Rules

Staff Opines On Whether It Is Responsibility Of Supplier Or Broker To File Door-to-Door Notice, When Broker Engages In Door-to-Door Marketing

Discusses Resumption Of Door-to-Door Marketing

June 18, 2020

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Copyright 2010-20
Reporting by Paul Ring •

Staff of the Massachusetts DPU conducted a stakeholder meeting addressing questions concerning implementation of the DPU's May 22 order on retail energy marketing and related provisions (Docket 19-07)

See details and provisions of the DPU's new retail market order here

As previously reported, the rules adopted in the order apply to electric and gas competitive suppliers, electricity brokers, and gas retail agents, for activity related to residential and small commercial and industrial ("C&I") consumers, unless otherwise noted.

Specifically, aside from certain provisions such as door-to-door notice requirements and certain reporting requirements which are for the residential market only, much of the order's provisions apply to small C&I customers as well as residential customers

Stakeholders sought clarification on the definition of small C&I customer

DPU Staff members discussed the issue during the stakeholder meeting. Staff stressed that their remarks were not a final answer and were subject to further discussion at the Department

However, Staff said that their "inclination" is to tie the definition of small C&I electric customer to the definition used on the Energy Switch MA website, which defines a small C&I customer as a customer whose monthly demand does not exceed 25 kW.

For natural gas, the inclination is to use the existing definition at 220 CMR 14.02, which defines small commercial and industrial customers as, "those customers whose annual load is less than or equal to 7,000 therms of gas." Staff said that they would need further discussion before giving a final answer on whether normalized usage would be used in making the determination

Staff also said that further discussion would be needed at the Department concerning whether a customer's load could be aggregated to meet the threshold to not be a small C&I customer, as well as how to treat meters which may be associated with a large customer, but which, for the specific meter, meets the small C&I definition (e.g. incidental accounts)

While further discussion is needed, Staff did state that the intent, in defining the customer, is to look at the customer as a whole, rather than individual meters

Stakeholders also sought clarification on the responsibility to file door-to-door marketing notices with the DPU, in cases where a broker is selling for multiple suppliers (non-exclusive)

While not a final proclamation on the issue, Staff said that their view is that if the broker is selling offers from multiple suppliers, with a non-exclusive arrangement, then it is the broker's responsibility to file the door-to-door notice with the DPU

As noted in the order and our prior story, Staff reiterated that, in further proceedings in the docket, further discussion will address certain aspects of the door-to-door notices and limits, including:

• Application of the municipality limit adopted in the order on a regional or vendor basis

• Adoption of the neighborhood notice requirement (limited to Boston initially) for other municipalities

• Providing notification to municipal officials

Staff clarified that an attachment to the DPU order to be used for door-to-door marketing notices erroneously included a column for "Contact Municipal Official". Staff said that this issue is still being reviewed and was not to have been included in the required fields to be completed at this time.

Formal guidance on various issues will be issued in forthcoming hearing examiner memos.

A stakeholder asked Staff about the resumption of door-to-door marketing, given the current pandemic

Staff said that they were hoping to get guidance from EEA [Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs] and the Governor's office, but did not have any specifics on a potential resumption, and whether it would be included in specific phases of the re-opening plans issued by the Governor

Docket 19-07

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