Pa. PUC Proposes To Grant EGS License To CPower For Purpose Of Accessing Its Customer Data Via Utility Systems
May 11, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Pennsylvania PUC last week voted to issue a tentative order that would grant an electric generation supplier license to Enerwise Global Technologies, LLC d/b/a CPower (Enerwise, Company, or Applicant) for the purpose of allowing CPower to obtain utility data concerning its customers to verify customer performance in demand response programs and assist customers in analyzing their usage and capabilities
In its EGS application, Enerwise details its current business practices, which include operating as a Conservation Service Provider (CSP) and an energy management company which caters to its customers energy needs through usage management, demand response, and sustainability goals
In its Application, Enerwise states that it is not going to market power in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Rather, the Company submits that it is seeking an EGS license in order to obtain utility data on behalf of its customers so that it can verify customer performance in demand response programs and assist customers in analyzing their usage and capabilities
In the Commonwealth, electric distribution companies (EDCs) maintain systems containing the account, billing, and usage data for customers within their service territories (i.e., billing and metering systems). EGSs are provided access to these systems and corresponding information so that they may tailor their products and bills. EGSs may access this information through utilization of an electronic data interchange (EDI) or via a web portal.
In a motion to issue the tentative order, PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille said, "While access is available to licensed EGSs, customer privacy protections still maintain paramount importance to the Commission. Consequently, third-party entities, i.e., entities not licensed as an EGS, are not offered access to EDCs’ EDI or web portals. Further, EGSs, as licensed entities, must abide by all relevant statute and regulations and are subject to enforcement actions from the Commission for non-compliance. For example, the Commission’s regulations at 52 Pa. Code § 54.8 detail the standard to be followed by EGSs and EDCs regarding the confidentiality of customer information while the statute at 66 Pa. C.S. § 3301 enables the Commission to levy a civil penalty for non-compliance with any pertinent statute, regulation, or order. I highlight this to note the balance that currently is struck by the policy permitting EGSs to access EDC billing and metering systems while refraining from permitting third-party entities from such access. EGS licensure comes with, amongst other things, the benefits of EDC billing and metering system access while it is measured and enforced by PUC oversight and the concomitant responsibilities, obligations, and potential enforcement associated with said oversight."
"The Applicant before us today submits that it is only seeking an EGS license in order to obtain utility data on behalf of its customers so that it can verify customer performance in demand response programs, and, to assist customers in analyzing their usage and capabilities. As such, the application here represents a case of first impression whereby the Applicant proposes to voluntarily obtain EGS licensure in order to support its existing business model, as opposed to avail itself the opportunity to commence traditional marketing, brokering, aggregating, or selling of electricity services," Dutrieuille said
"This application is rather timely, given the Commission has now overseen the relative completion of smart meter roll-out throughout the Commonwealth. The information realized by smart meters is vast. EGSs, CSPs, and potentially other entities have the potential to leverage this information to the betterment of the public at-large. In our first significant step to provide parties access to this data, the Commission directed EDCs to design web portals as a less expensive alternative to traditional EDI. In our June 30, 2016 Final Order approving the design of EDC web portals the Commission addressed the issue of access. Of importance, in that Final Order we determined that the Commission would not explicitly provide third-party entities, not otherwise licensed as an EGS, an alternative pathway to access utilities’ metering and billing systems. This leaves us with our current design whereby EGS licensure is required to access a utility billing and metering system through EDI or a web portal," Dutrieuille said
"Understanding this current design for EDI and web portal access is necessary to prudently evaluate the instant proceeding. I submit that entities operating like Enerwise can potentially avail themselves access to EGS licensure if they meet the technical and financial standards for licensure. Upon review of this application, I believe that Enerwise likely retains the adequate financial and technical fitness," Dutrieuille said
"[W]hile Enerwise’s business model is non-traditional when compared to other EGS applicants, I believe the Applicant’s business proposal may meet the theme of the Statute. The definition of an EGS is provided in 66 Pa. C.S. § 2809," Dutrieuille said, noting that the statute reads: "A person or corporation, including municipal corporations which choose to provide service outside their municipal limits except to the extent provided prior to the effective date of this chapter, brokers and marketers, aggregators or any other entities, that sells to end-use customers electricity or related services utilizing the jurisdictional transmission or distribution facilities of an electric distribution company or that purchases, brokers, arranges or markets electricity or related services for sale to end-use customers utilizing the jurisdictional transmission and distribution facilities of an electric distribution company."
"Here Enerwise seeks to support its provision of offering electricity related services by availing itself access to the billing and metering systems of utilities via EDI and web portals. While not often thought of as traditional ‘distribution facilities,’ I posit that an electric distribution company’s metering and billing system may fall into the nexus of distribution facilities," Dutrieuille said
"For these reasons, I believe it is in the public interest to tentatively grant Enerwise’s application. Before issuing a final decision on the merits, we will provide an opportunity for interested parties to file comments regarding Enerwise’s application within thirty (30) days after the date of publication of the Tentative Order issued in this matter in the Pennsylvania Bulletin," Dutrieuille said
The PUC voted 3-1 to issue a tentative order as proposed by Dutrieuille. Vice Chairman David Sweet dissented, stating that he believed Cpower's business, while meritorious, did not fit the statutory definition of EGS