Oncor Says Texas PUC Should Consider Requiring Retail Providers To Share Customer Email Addresses With TDUs, For Emergency Alerts
August 20, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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In recent comments to the Texas PUC concerning the criteria and related issues for power outage alerts (which are required under new legislation), Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC said that the PUC should consider requiring retail electric providers to share with the TDUs their customers' email addresses, to facilitate communication of the outage alerts to customers
Oncor said in its comments that, "Oncor offers customers a free service called My Oncor Alerts. My Oncor Alerts proactively notifies customers when their power is out and provides an estimated time of restoration, if available. Customers also receive information about temporary disconnect and reconnect communications and scheduling. Customers may choose to receive alerts using one or more communication channels, including text, email or voice messaging. My Oncor Alerts has the highest customer satisfaction rate of any of Oncor’s communication channels. My Oncor Alerts, in addition to the company’s MyOncor app (which provides real-time information about power outages and historical outage information), paired with the state’s Power Outage Alert system could prove useful in communicating with the public during power shortage events."
Oncor said in its comments that, "One shortcoming of the competitive structure of the ERCOT market, however, is that the TDUs are limited in their ability to reach out to customers. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act ('TCPA') limits utilities to sending proactive automated text and voice messaging only to customers who have expressly given authorization for such communications, such as those who have enrolled in the My Oncor Alerts program or downloaded the MyOncor app. Retail electric providers ('REPs') acquire the customer contact information when enrolling their customers and they pass some of that information to the TDUs. In accordance with Oncor’s Tariff for Retail Delivery Service, REPs are required to provide the customer’s name, address and telephone number to the TDU. However, REPs generally do not share customer email addresses. If Oncor could also acquire the customers’ email addresses from the REPs, then Oncor could proactively enroll customers in My Oncor Alerts, since email communications are not subject to the restrictions of the TCPA. For those customers not interested in the My Oncor Alerts program, the program allows customers to easily unsubscribe."
Oncor said in its comments that, "When Texas SET 4.0 was implemented in 2012, market participants envisioned a need for the transfer of power outage contact information from the REP to the TDU. A new Power Outage Contact Information segment was added to the ERCOT 814_PC EDI transaction which, in part, provides the capability for REPs to electronically transfer customer email addresses to TDUs. To date, most REPs have declined to do so because they are not required to do so."
"As the Commission contemplates the best way to reach customers during power outage emergencies, consideration should be given to requiring REPs to provide customer email addresses to TDUs, just as they are required to provide customers’ names, addresses and telephone numbers. By doing so, the Commission will enable utilities with programs like My Oncor Alerts to reach more customers during power outage emergencies, thus complementing the state’s own Power Outage Alert system," Oncor said in its comments