Daily Email







Consumer Advocate Asks PUC To Ban Robocalls, As Part Of New Rulemaking

Proposes Rate Cap On Variable Rates

Proposes Ban On Gift Cards, Similar Inducements For Enrollments

Proposes That "All" Third-Party & Independent Sales Agents Be Required To Register With PUC

Would Ban Auto-Renewals

Proposes Ban On Door-to-Door Sales

October 13, 2021

Email This Story
Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

The following story is brought free of charge to readers by EC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has filed, in comments to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, a broad proposal for a series of retail energy market rule changes

OCC's comments were made in a previously reported proceeding addressing Ohio Adm.Code Chapters 4901:1- 21, 4901:1-23, 4901:1-24, 4901:1-27, 4901:1-28, 4901:1-29, 4901:1-30, 4901:1-31, 4901:1-32, 4901:1-33, and 4901:1-34. The rules address, among other things, marketing and solicitation, disclosures, customer enrollment and consent, minimum service standards, supplier licensing, and billing. PUCO Staff have not proposed any major changes to the rules (See story her)

OCC's proposals discussed below would apply to both electricity and natural gas

OCC proposed that the rule prohibit robocalls for retail energy

"The rules should be amended to include as an 'unfair marketing practice' the use of 'robo-calling' technology or automated messages to entice consumers to speak with the marketer ... Robo-calling should be expressly prohibited by the PUCO in the marketing and solicitation of energy services to consumers," OCC said

OCC specifically proposed to prohibit, "Telephone solicitations that utilize 'robo-calling' technology or automated messages to entice consumers to speak with the [retail] provider."

OCC proposed that PUCO prohibit retail suppliers from offering cash or gift cards to entice new enrollments

OCC said that retail suppliers should be prohibited from, "Offering cash cards, gift cards, or rewards points as an incentive for new customer enrollments."

In proposed rule language, OCC specifically proposed that PUCO prohibit, "Enticing customers to enroll in service by offering a short-term fixed rate contract that automatically renews to a variable rate contract."

OCC proposed that PUCO ban "short-term" fixed rates that auto-renew to a variable rate

Separately, OCC further proposed that residential contract renewals should only be allowed with affirmative consent from the customer, with a ban on auto-renewals

"The PUCO should amend these rules to do away with automatic contract renewals, excluding month to month contracts," OCC said, with OCC proposing that there shall be no early termination fees for month to month contracts

"Residential contracts shall not contain automatic renewal clauses unless the contract is on a month to month basis with no early termination fees," OCC proposed

OCC proposes that residential contracts shall not contain an early termination fee in excess of $25.

OCC proposed that PUCO adopt in the rule its prior "fixed means fixed" order and also the associated product labels. While PUCO's fixed means fixed order stands, it allows regulatory out clauses for the supplier to cease service. Furthermore, PUCO stayed an order which would have required the use of defined product labels (fixed, variable, introductory); see story here for more details

OCC's language would provide that, "Contracts labeled as 'fixed' shall not contain language or clauses that permit the pass through of additional charges to the customer in excess of the identified fixed rate."

OCC proposed increased oversight of third-party marketing vendors and agents.

Among other things, OCC proposed that, "All third-party and independent sales agents shall register with the PUCO and include the names of management personnel, names of sales agents, office address and phone number."

OCC would require that, "[retail] providers shall suspend the use of third-party and independent sales agents that fail to comply with Ohio law and PUCO’s rules in soliciting and marketing to consumers."

OCC proposed that, "Upon suspension of a third-party and independent sales agents, all enrollments that were performed by the third-party shall be subject to a compliance audit paid for by the [retail] provider to verify that the enrollment is in full compliance with the rules."

OCC proposed that retail providers shall be prohibited from conducting direct solicitations through door-to-door marketing and enrollment

OCC proposed that, for variable rate contracts, "The variable rate shall not exceed 2.25 times the utility’s standard offer." (OCC proposes the same multiple as a rate cap for both electricity and gas)

For variable rates, OCC proposed that suppliers be required, in marketing materials and offers, to express the rate, "in a manner that will enable the customer to compare the variable rate offered against other offers available."

For offers that include any form of an introductory rate, OCC proposed that suppliers be required to provide in marketing materials and offers, "a clear identification of the initial rate that will be charged, the time period that the introductory rate will be charged, the rate that will be charged once the introductory period is over, and the time period that the post-introductory rate will be in effect."

OCC proposed that PUCO should require utilities to provide shadow billing, or alternatively, marketers should be required to develop a 'do not call' list for consumers who choose not to be solicited.

Cases 17-1843-EL-ORD et al.

NEW Jobs on
NEW! -- Sr. Margin Optimization Analyst - Retail Energy -- Houston
NEW! -- Senior Sales Executive -- Retail Supplier
NEW! -- Power Analyst
NEW! -- Financial Analyst
NEW! -- Environmental Commodity Analyst
NEW! -- Gas Analyst
Energy Pricing Analyst -- Retail Supplier
Senior Account Operations Analyst -- Retail Supplier
Energy Procurement Manager

Email This Story


Copyright 2010-21 Energy Choice Matters.  If you wish to share this story, please email or post the website link; unauthorized copying, retransmission, or republication prohibited.



Daily Email