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Pa. PUC Proposes To Extend Five-Day Waiting Period For Natural Gas Switches

August 26, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

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The Pennsylvania PUC has proposed in a tentative order to continue, for another three years, a waiver which provides for a shortened five-day waiting period related to natural gas switches, as the issue continues to be addressed in a pending rulemaking

Currently, under the PUC's regulations, when a switch of a natural gas customer is submitted, the NGDC shall send the NGDC ratepayer of record a confirmation letter noting the proposed change of NGS. The rules provide that such letter shall include notice of a 10-day waiting period in which the switch may be canceled before the change of the NGS (supplier) takes place. The NGDC shall make the switch at the beginning of the first feasible billing period following the 10-day waiting period

Previously, in a retail electric market proceeding, the PUC shortened a similar electricity switching waiting period to five days.

The PUC previously found that it would be prudent to implement similar provisions between the electric and gas markets to reduce customer confusion

As such, pending addressing the natural gas waiting period formally in a rulemaking, the PUC previously issued temporary rule waivers to reduce the natural gas switching waiting period from 10 days to 5 days

The most recently adopted waiver allowing for the shortened five-day gas waiting period expires in October 2021

Under the new tentative order, the PUC seeks to extend the waiver to provide for a five-day natural gas switching waiting period through October 25, 2024

"Therefore, we propose to waive 52 Pa. Code §§ 59.93(2) and 59.94 and adopt the interim guidelines [below] to continue the five-day waiting period for an additional three years through October 25, 2024," the PUC said

"We deem that an extension of the interim guidelines ... is warranted during the pendency of the NGS switching rulemaking at Docket No. I-2013-2381742. We stress the need to move forward with improving customer switching timeframes by shortening them. In our opinion, reverting back to the ten-day period in our current regulations from the five-day timeframe permitted under the existing waiver would be counterproductive and -confusing for customers, potentially leading to renewed customer frustration with the natural gas supply market. Additionally, to date, we have not received any adverse comments, complaints, concerns, or suggestions of problems with the five-day waiting period," the PUC said

Specifically, the PUC tentatively proposed to continue the following provisions:

A. Customer contacts with NGSs.

When a contact occurs between a customer and an NGS to request a change of the NGS, upon receiving direct oral confirmation or written authorization from the customer to change the NGS, the customer’s new NGS shall:

(1) Notify the NGDC of the customer’s NGS selection by the end of the next business day following completion of the application process. The NGDC shall verify the accuracy of the information provided by the NGS by matching at least two data elements such as name and account number, or address and account number, with NGDC records.

(2) Upon receipt of this notification, the NGDC shall send the NGDC ratepayer of record a confirmation letter noting the proposed change of NGS. This letter should include notice of a 5-day waiting period in which the order may be canceled before the change of the NGS takes place. The notice shall include the date service with the new NGS will begin unless the customer contacts the NGDC to cancel the change. The 5-day waiting period shall begin on the day the letter is mailed. The letter shall be mailed by the end of the next business day following the receipt of the notification of the customer’s selection of a NGS.

B. Time-frame requirement.

When a customer has provided the NGS with oral confirmation or written authorization to change NGSs, the NGDC shall make the change at the beginning of the first feasible billing period following the 5-day waiting period, as prescribed in A(2) (relating to customer contacts with NGSs).

The PUC invited comment on the tentative order. Absent any adverse comments, the tentative order shall become final without further Commission action

Docket I-2013-2381742

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