Pennsylvania PUC Allows Door-To-Door Marketing To Resume For C&I Customers Only
PUC Seeks Comment On "Eventual" Lifting Of Remaining Ban On In-Person Retail Energy Sales
Asks Whether Additional PUC-Administered Training Should Be Compelled Given Year-Long Door-to-Door Moratorium
Seeks Comment On Need For Additional Monitoring, Oversight
May 6, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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The Pennsylvania PUC today issued a tentative order in which the PUC sought comment on a timeline for further modifying or lifting the PUC's March 16, 2020 Emergency Order which generally prohibits in-person marketing of retail energy, except for certain sales channels as previously reported
As previously reported, the PUC has allowed certain in-store retail sales, and in-person sales at outdoor public events otherwise complying with the state's COVID orders, to resume.
In a separate order today (discussed further below), the PUC will now allow in-person sales for C&I customers conducted at such customers' place of business if the business is open in compliance with the governor's pandemic orders. Such C&I marketing may include door-to-door marketing (not only by-appointment). Residential door-to-door marketing and other in-person marketing remain prohibited, however
Noting the recent "easing of restrictions" by Pennsylvania's governor with respect to businesses and public gatherings, the PUC said, "we ask interested stakeholders to comment on a timeline for further modifying or lifting the March 16, 2020 Emergency Order. Stakeholders should identify the metrics that the Commission may use to determine whether to modify or lift the marketing moratorium."
"Stakeholders should also propose any conditions to which the Commission should subject suppliers when we modify or lift the Emergency Order. We acknowledge the possibility that, even with the eventual modification and lifting of the Emergency Order, public health and safety concerns may remain for the Commission to address if the COVID-19 pandemic has not fully abated. Thus, stakeholders should address measures to ensure public health and safety, the duration of such measures, and the metrics for later eliminating such measures," the PUC said
"We also note that, by the time the marketing moratorium is lifted, well over a year will have elapsed since suppliers last engaged in certain types of sales and marketing activities. For instance, door-to-door sales and marketing activities usually occur during the warm-season and many suppliers, agents, and vendors will not have performed door-to-door sales and marketing activities since the Fall of 2019. We are concerned that, once suppliers resume the currently prohibited sales and marketing activities after this long lapse, suppliers will rely on new and inexperienced vendors and agents. Therefore, we invite stakeholders to comment on the need for suppliers to attend Commission training to refresh their understanding of the Commission’s marketing regulations before resuming these sales and marketing activities. Any potential training would likely be offered remotely. We also acknowledge that the need for training may differ depending upon customer class since the marketing regulations at 52 Pa. Code Chapter 111 apply only to residential consumers," the PUC said
"The Commission further asks stakeholders to comment on the need for any additional reporting requirements beyond those found at 52 Pa. Code § 111.14 [which requires certain notifications of door to door marketing to the PUC and EDCs] as the Commission modifies or lifts the March 16, 2020 Emergency Order," the PUC said.
"Stakeholders should also comment on the need for any additional monitoring, oversight, or reporting requirements for supplier contractors, vendors, and agents," the PUC said
"Finally, we seek comments on any additional action that may be necessary with regard to (1) the Commission’s June 4, 2020 Order lifting the moratorium on in-person sales and marketing activities for all jurisdictional electric generation suppliers and natural gas suppliers as it pertains to activities at retail businesses open as a result of the Governor’s directives, and (2) the Commission’s December 3, 2020 Order lifting the moratorium on in-person sales and marketing activities for all suppliers as it pertains to activities at outdoor public events held in accordance with orders and directives issued by the Governor and Secretary of Health," the PUC said
In-Person Marketing To Business Customers
In response to a petition from RESA, the PUC said that, "In light of the easing of COVID-19 mitigation measures and restrictions, we agree that it is appropriate to lift the moratorium on in-person sales and marketing activities for all jurisdictional suppliers as it pertains to activities with commercial and industrial customers that are open as a result of the orders or directives of the Governor and the Secretary of Health. Importantly, we note that certain restrictions remain in place for businesses."
"[S]uppliers engaging in in-person sales and marketing activities with commercial and industrial customers must comply with all relevant orders and guidance of the Governor and the Secretary of Health, including, but not limited to, the Governor’s Amended Order for Mitigation, Enforcement, and Immunity Protections and the Secretary of Health’s Order Amending the Order for Mitigation and Enforcement as well as any guidance referenced therein and subsequently issued. Suppliers must also continue to adhere to all applicable Commission regulations and orders," the PUC said
"Additionally, suppliers should report to the Commission their intent to resume in-person sales and marketing activities with commercial and industrial customers, including the general time period and geographic area in which the supplier will be active," the PUC said
The requirement for suppliers to report the resumption of in-person sales and marketing activities with commercial and industrial businesses will remain in place until it is rescinded by the Commission at the conclusion of the present emergency
"Further, although we will allow the resumption of in-person sales and marketing activities with commercial and industrial customers that are open as a result of the orders or directives of the Governor and the Secretary of Health subject to the conditions herein, suppliers should use remote means where possible. We encourage the use of other sales and marketing activities, including outbound telemarketing, inbound calls, website advertising and enrollment, media advertising, PaPowerSwitch, and utility Customer Referral Programs," the PUC said
With the conditions noted above, the PUC's order specifically provides that, "the portion of the Commission’s
March 16, 2020 Emergency Order establishing a moratorium on in-person sales and marketing activities for all jurisdictional electric generation suppliers and natural gas suppliers is lifted as it pertains to activities with commercial and industrial customers that are open as a result of the orders or directives of the Governor and Secretary of Health."