State Regulator's Staff Seeks Order Allowing Resumption Of All In-Person Retail Energy Marketing, Would Require Sales Agents To Be Vaccinated
June 14, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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Staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission have filed a motion requesting that the Commission issue an order allowing all forms of in-person retail energy marketing to resume, including to residential customers, subject to several conditions, including a requirement that all sales agents be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus
Specifically, Staff sought an interim order permitting in-person solicitation by retail energy suppliers in Illinois upon the commencement of Phase 5 of the state's Restore Illinois re-opening process, subject to the following conditions (Staff proposed the same conditions for electric and gas suppliers, only the electric conditions are quoted here for brevity):
(a) All ARES employees, sales agents or representatives engaged in in-person solicitation must be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, with ARES solely responsible for obtaining and retaining proof of vaccination for each such employee, sales agent or representative;
(b) All ARES employees, sales agents or representatives engaged in in-person solicitation must wear face coverings throughout all solicitations, as well as observe all state or local requirements now or subsequently in effect governing such solicitations;
(c) ARES intending to conduct in-person solicitations shall exercise careful, responsible and active oversight of employees and
agents regarding compliance with all applicable federal, state and local requirements and guidelines governing the health status, and social distancing and sanitizing / disinfecting practices;
(d) any failure of oversight or compliance that comes to the Commission’s attention will cause the Commission to revisit any Order it issues modifying the Emergency Order; and
(e) such interim order shall remain in effect while the State remains in Phase 5, and in the event that the State, or any part of the State, reverts to Phase 4 or below, all such in-person solicitations shall immediately cease, except to the extent permitted by the Fifth Interim Order, and then only consistent with the terms of that Order.
Illinois moved into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois program on June 11, 2021.
"[T]he advent of Phase 5 signals a return to normal commercial activity, subject to certain limitations. Normal commercial activity includes business of various types conducting in-person solicitations of sales for many different products or services, including retail electric supply service. Staff notes that the Illinois Power Agency has authorized door-to-door marketing of solar incentives," Staff said
Staff said that its proposed order is required because the ICC, in its ICC's original in-person marketing moratorium, held that the moratorium shall "remain in force and effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared by the Governor[.]"
However, Staff noted that, even the movement into Phase 5 (which is considered a return to pre-pandemic levels of activity), the declared public health emergency will run at least through June 26, 2021, with such continuation intended to enable the State to exercise emergency legal, administrative and fiscal authority, and to access funds available from federal sources.
"In the Staff’s view, the Restore Illinois program represents the State’s most authoritative and current directives on, and guidance for, public health matters related to COVID-19, and determining what commercial, business and personal activities are permitted or can be undertaken consistent with public health and safety ... Accordingly, the progress of the Restore Illinois program gives more useful and better guidance regarding what commercial, business and personal activities can be conducted consistent with public health and safety than does the existence or non-existence of a declared public health emergency. Again, the Restore Illinois framework is something about which the Commission could not have been aware when it issued its Emergency Order on March 18, 2020, and as such, constitutes a material change in law or fact such as warrants reconsideration of the findings and conclusions in the Emergency Order," Staff said