Texas Retail Providers Seek End To Disconnection For Non-Pay Moratorium; End Of Exceptions Concerning Billing Rules
March 4, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Coalition of Competitive Retail Electric Providers (CCR) urged the Texas PUC to rescind the disconnect for nonpayment (DNP) moratorium it recently imposed in response to the weather event
"The CCR understands that in adopting its order the Commission was protecting consumers who may have been enrolled on prepaid, indexed plans tied directly to the wholesale price of electricity. As we all know, that price spiked the week of February 14, 2021 leaving these customers with enormous credit balances owed on their accounts. However, it is the CCR’s belief that the REP offering this plan is no longer serving customers in Texas. As a result, the need for this type of emergency, blanket protection has ended," CCR said
"As REPs return to their normal billing practices (for both prepay and postpay customers), REPs need customers to pay their bills. REPs are already obligated to work with customers who express an inability to pay per the requirement to offer access to deferred payment plans. The imposition of a broad disconnect moratorium on this market only serves to incent customers to believe they will not have to pay the bills they are accruing for electricity. Further, by imposing a DNP moratorium on REPs while simultaneously allowing ERCOT to resume normal invoicing and settlement timelines under its protocols, only serves to further hamper REPs abilities to meet its market obligations," CCR said
"If the Commission finds elimination of the existing DNP moratorium untenable, the CCR would propose keeping the DNP moratorium through March 31, 2021 but allow REPs to automatically place delinquent (or prepay accounts that have a negative account balance greater than $50) accounts on a deferred payment plan (DPP) with a switch-hold for all bills issued (or negative account balances) on or before March 31, 2021," CCR said
"This solution provides REPs some certainty that the customer bill will be paid while providing the customer additional time to make such payments. By creating a mechanism that incents customer payment, REPs would not be forced to raise their rates in the future to socialize the cost of higher customer defaults created by this DNP moratorium. Should this option be chosen, the Commission could mandate the DPP terms as those already specified in §25.480(j)(2)(B) for postpay customers or §25.498(i)(6) for prepay customers, or other terms theCommission may find appropriate. The CCR’s would further agree that all DPPs automatically entered into by operation of this provision be provided to the customer as normally required by §25.480(j)(5) for postpay customers or §25.498(i)(9) for prepay customers," CCR said
CCR also noted that the open meeting on March 3, 2021, Commissioners discussed allowing REPs to resume their normal billing and late fee processes given that accurate meter reading information had been provided by the TDUs.
"However, the orders issued following the open meeting failed to rescind your order dated February 21, 2021 whereby you granted an exception to §25.480(c) as relates to a REPs ability to impose a late fee on delinquent bills. The CCR’s would ask the Commission to rescind its order so that REPs can resume assessing late fees on delinquent accounts in accordance with §25.480(c)," CCR said
Young Energy, LLC in a separate petition requested that the PUC end the exceptions to its Electric Rules which were imposed on February 21, 2021; specifically, the exceptions to the following Electric Rules: 16 TAC § 25.480(c), 16 TAC § 25.483(c), 16 TAC § 25.214(d), and Sections 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, and 126.96.36.199 of the Tariff for Retail Delivery Service.
These rules and provisions relate generally to the billing and collections activities for Retail Electric Providers.
"At their open meeting of March 3rd, the Commissioners agreed that REPs should be encouraged to resume their normal billing activities. However, without an end to the exceptions to the Electric Rules implemented by the Order of February 21, REPs cannot resume those normal billing and collection activities," Young Energy said