Texas PUC Ends Disconnect For Non-Pay Moratorium, Imposes Conditions For Resumption Of DNPs
PUC Commissioner Warns REPs About "Getting Loose" With Their T&Cs & Circumventing PUC Rules
June 11, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Update, 3:57 pm ET
The Public Utility Commission of Texas said in a news release that it set June 18, 2021 as the last day for the moratorium on electric, water and sewer service disconnections for customers with unpaid bills.
"Beginning June 19, 2021, retail electric providers (REPs) and water/sewer utilities must issue new disconnection warning notices to customers whose past due accounts put them at risk of service termination. According to PUC rules, those notices will trigger a ten-day waiting period to allow customers to arrange for payment, meaning disconnections can resume on June 29, 2021," the PUC said (barring any automatically triggered suspension of DNPs due to weather)
The Public Utility Commission of Texas has voted to end the moratorium on disconnections for non-payment that had been adopted after the February winter weather event
The end of the DNP moratorium is effective seven days after the PUC's order.
The PUC ordered that retail electric providers must send a new disconnect notice to customers, which shall include the customer's updated balance and standing, in order to start the disconnection process once the moratorium ends.
Furthermore, the new DNP customer notices may not be sent to customers until the end of the moratorium is effective (e.g. not earlier than 7 days from issuance of the order). The normal DNP notice and timeline will then be applicable in terms of when a DNP may be executed after the notice is issued.
REPs may not rely on any disconnect notice sent during the moratorium in terms of complying with the DNP requirements. The PUC ruled that any prior notices are inadequate in terms of complying with the notice requirements now that the moratorium is ending.
Under a still-effective COVID-related order, REPs are still required to offer a deferred payment plan to all customers who request a DPP
The PUC ordered that the requirement to offer a DPP to all customers requesting one shall extend through November 12, 2021, unless further extended by the Commission.
Otherwise, the PUC ruled that good cause no longer exists for the rule exceptions related to DNPs and related provisions that had been adopted under its February 2021 moratorium order, and the PUC ended those rule exceptions
All of the regular provisions governing the suspension of DNPs (due to extreme weather, etc.) remain applicable
The PUC's action followed a public comment period in which several commercial customers expressed concerns with significant ancillary service charges billed by their REPs as a result of the winter weather event.
Speaking more broadly than just about DNPs, Commissioner Will McAdams warned retail electric providers about "getting loose" with their terms and conditions and seeking to circumvent the intent of Commission rules and law
McAdams said that the Commission will look at that on a case-by-case basis, specifically with respect to small commercial as well as residential customers, and encouraged customers to call the PUC with any such issues
McAdams noted that the winter weather event will "refine the left and right limits" of what consumers can expect and within which market participants may operate