Updated: Conditions Revealed For Resumption Of Door-to-Door Marketing In Pennsylvania
PUC Will "Closely Monitor" Retail Suppliers' Door-to-Door Sales
(Earlier): Pennsylvania PUC Allows Residential Door-to-Door Marketing To Resume, With "Limited" Reporting
July 15, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Pennsylvania PUC has issued a written order lifting the moratorium on door-to-door, public event, and in-person sales and marketing activities by retail energy suppliers
The moratorium is lifted as of July 15, the date on which the order was entered.
While the PUC is imposing certain reporting and notice requirements as part of ending the moratorium, the PUC will not require suppliers to complete PUC-administered re-training, though such re-training will be offered, and the PUC "expect[s]" all suppliers to participate
"While we agree that suppliers are primarily responsible for the training of their agents, we think that refresher training for suppliers from the Commission would be useful. As such, the Commission will make such training available remotely. We will schedule multiple sessions in the coming weeks as to accommodate as many suppliers as possible," the PUC said
"While we expect all suppliers that engage in door-to-door sales and marketing activities to attend one of these sessions, we will not make the training a prerequisite for resuming door-to-door sales and marketing activities," the PUC said
The PUC will also not adopt prescriptive requirements concerning the nature of any door-to-door re-launches, such as a "soft launch" as suggested by some stakeholders. However, the PUC stressed that, "We expect that suppliers will nonetheless carefully reinitiate door-to-door sales and marketing activities with enhanced monitoring and auditing in place to ensure that the supplier marketing regulations and the requirements of this Order are respected."
The PUC will require suppliers engaging in door-to-door sales to comply with the following notice and reporting requirements, which will be in place through September 30, 2021 (the end date for certain regulatory flexibility granted to agencies by statute for prior emergency orders)
Through Sept. 30, suppliers shall report to the Commission their intent to resume door-to-door sales and marketing activities, including the general time period and geographic area in which the supplier will be active. Reports shall be provided to the PUC's Office of Competitive Market Oversight (OCMO) as well as the Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS), to email addresses listed in the PUC's order
While the Commission will require these reports for suppliers resuming door-to-door sales and marketing activities, the PUC lifted the requirement for suppliers to report to the Commission regarding the resumption of other forms of in-person sales and marketing activities
"We also decline to require reports from suppliers resuming other forms of in-person sales and marketing activities, such as activities at indoor public events," the PUC said
Additionally, the PUC is modifying the door-to-door notice requirement (to BCS) under 52 Pa. Code § 111.14 to require that suppliers shall indicate if they will be using a third-party vendor to perform door-to-door sales and marketing activities, through September 30
The PUC will not, however, require suppliers to identify who the vendor is.
"This modification will allow the Commission to more closely monitor door-to-door sales and marketing activities during the suppliers’ relaunch of such activities after more than a year since they have conducted such activities," the PUC said
The PUC reminded suppliers that they may not permit a person to conduct door-to-door sales and marketing activities until they have obtained the required criminal background checks.
The PUC noted that some orders and directives of the Governor and Secretary of Health may persist or reemerge. "Therefore, consistent with our prior Orders addressing the marketing moratorium, suppliers engaging in door-to-door, public event, and in-person sales and marketing activities must comply with all relevant orders and guidance of the Governor and the Secretary of Health," the PUC said. This requirement is not subject to the Sept. 30 end date
Suppliers must also continue to adhere to all applicable Commission regulations and orders.
The PUC stressed that, "The Commission will closely monitor these sales and marketing activities through the reporting requirements described in this order as well as informal calls and complaints to OCMO and BCS. Suppliers are reminded that failure to comply with the Commissions orders and regulations will result in enforcement action, including possible suspension from door-to-door sales and marketing activities."
As previously reported, several parties urged the PUC to adopt broader changes to the door-to-door marketing regulations, but the PUC said that such issues shall be addressed in the ongoing review of the relevant rules (L-2020-2208332)
"Finally, we note that, in response to the Tentative Order, several parties discussed permanent changes to the Commission’s supplier marketing regulations at 52 Pa. Code, Chapter 111 due to long-standing concerns regarding door-to-door sales and marketing activities. We believe that the upcoming review of Chapter 111 is a more appropriate forum to address these such concerns," the PUC said
Concerning its authority to adopt the requirements, the PUC stated, "For utilities generally, the Commission has authority to ensure that every public utility furnishes and maintains adequate, efficient, safe, and reasonable service and facilities. 66 Pa.C.S. § 1501. When the natural gas utility and electric utility industries were restructured, the Commission was also given special authority to regulate the competitive marketplace for electric generation supplier services. 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 2201,
et seq. and 2801, et seq. The General Assembly charged the Commission to 'establish regulations to require each electric distribution company, electricity supplier, marketer, aggregator and broker to provide adequate and accurate customer information to enable customers to make informed choices regarding the purchase of all electricity services offered by that provider.' 66 Pa.C.S. § 2807(d)(2). The General Assembly established a similar requirement regarding NGDCs and NGSs. See 66 Pa.C.S. § 2206(c). Moreover, the Commission is required to ensure that information provided to customers is understandable and enables them to compare prices and services to make informed decisions. See 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 2206(c), 2807(d)(2). In addition, regarding NGSs, 'the commission may forbear from extending its regulation of [NGSs] beyond licensing, bonding, reliability and consumer services and protections . . .' 66 Pa.C.S. § 2208(e). The Commission must further 'impose requirements necessary to ensure that the present quality of service provided by electric utilities does not deteriorate.' 66 Pa.C.S. § 2809(e). In order to accomplish these responsibilities, the Commission 'may make such regulations . . . as may be necessary or proper in the exercise of its powers or for the performance of its duties.' 66 Pa.C.S. § 501(b); Blue Pilot Energy, LLC v. Pa. Pub. Util. Comm'n, 241 A.3d 1254, 1267 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2020)."
"This authority not only permits the Commission to regulate the behavior of suppliers, but also permits the monitoring of suppliers’ agents to ensure suppliers’ responsibilities are upheld. Therefore, under this authority and consistent with Act 21, we determine it is necessary to modify the requirements on suppliers," the PUC said
The Pennsylvania PUC today adopted an order which allows residential door-to-door retail energy marketing to resume, subject to "limited" reporting requirements, as described by PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille during an open meeting
The resumption will be permitted as of the entry date of the PUC's order.
The reporting requirements will expire on September 30, 2021 consistent with statute, Dutrieuille said
A written order with additional details was not immediately available.
This story will be updated as more information is available; check back for updates (you may need to refresh your page for the latest update)