Texas PUC Chair: "Fixed Rate Should Mean Fixed Rate"
Chair Says Fixed Rates Should Not Have "Backdoor Exemptions", Take A "Hard Look" About Waiving Customer Rights
Commissioner Urges Customers To Bring REP Complaints To PUC
June 17, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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During an open meeting work session, both Texas PUC Commissioners agreed that, "fixed rate should mean fixed rate".
While the PUC previously addressed the definition of a fixed price a decade ago for residential and small commercial customers, the PUC has fielded public comments and complaints (with additional reports in local media) about customers who signed up for a fixed rate that are receiving unexpected high bills, due to a variety of causes.
In some instances, small commercial customers agreed to contracts in which certain customer protections were waived. In other instances, customers reached the end of their fixed term and were rolled over to a variable rate (and alleged to have not received notice of contract expiration). In other instances, customers and the REP dispute what price components were fixed under the agreement (see story here)
"Fixed rate should mean fixed rate," PUC Chairman Peter Lake said. Commissioner Will McAdams agreed with that statement
"If REPs are holding products out as fixed rate plans, I think it's very important for us to define, or at least look at what that means," McAdams said
"Fixed rate needs to be established here at the Commission," McAdams said, who added that the PUC needs to define safeguards
Lake said that fixed products should be, "truly fixed without backdoor exemptions."
Lake said that the PUC needs to take a "hard look" at fine print about waiving customer rights
McAdams said that customer complaints to the PUC provide an opportunity for the PUC to drill down on the terms and conditions of contracts. McAdams asked Staff to flow complaints through to the Commission for adjudication so that the PUC can start speaking to the issues on a more specific basis
McAdams said that it is in the public interest to process such complaints and cases in order to establish case law and precedent over time
"Complain if you feel like you're being mistreated," McAdams urged customers
Commissioners noted that if a customer files an informal complaint at the PUC, a customer cannot be disconnected for non-payment of the disputed amount