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Utilities Seek Waiver To Keep Billing, Temporarily, Non-Regulated Services Of Only Certain Providers On Utility Bills, As New Non-Discrimination Rule Takes Effect

November 2, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Several Ohio electric utilities (EDUs) have applied for rule waivers at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to, temporarily, continue to bill their own, or an affiliate's, non-jurisdictional services on utility bills, as a new rule takes effect, which prohibits such billing, unless the utility makes such billing service available to competitive retail suppliers

As previously reported, in adopting new billing rules, while PUCO did not mandate that electric utilities (EDUs) must bill for the "non-jurisdictional services" of retail suppliers, any such billing of non-jurisdictional service (if elected by the EDU) must be done on a nondiscriminatory basis

In brief, non-jurisdictional services generally mean non-commodity services or other non-regulated charges

The new rules specifically state, "An electric utility cannot discriminate or unduly restrict a customer’s CRES [competitive retail] provider from including non-jurisdictional charges on a consolidated electric bill."

This new rule, part of amendments to the rules in Ohio Adm.Code Chapter 4901:1-10, became effective on November 1, 2021, after pending rehearing requests were denied by operation of law

See more background on the new rule in our story here

Duke Energy Ohio, Inc. sought a waiver to authorize Duke to, "Receive an additional twelve months from the Commission’s approval of this waiver to comply with the newly added provision in Rule 4901:1-10-33(A), which states '[a]n electric utility cannot discriminate or unduly restrict a customer’s CRES provider from including non-jurisdictional charges on a consolidated electric bill' and accompanying revisions to Rules 4901:1-10-22(B)(16) and 4901:1-10-33(C)(9), by removing all non-jurisdictional charges from the bill."

Duke said that it "will comply with this provision by ending the existing placement of its affiliate’s non-jurisdictional charges on its electric bills, thereby eliminating any possibility of 'prejudice or disadvantage'."

Duke said, "Duke Energy Ohio will need some additional time to effectuate such compliance, due to the imminent transition to its new customer information system (CIS or Customer Connect) and also due to the technical requirements of implementation. Accordingly, Duke Energy Ohio requests a temporary waiver for a 12-month period, to run from the date of the order approving this waiver application."

Duke Energy Ohio said that it currently allows its affiliate Duke Energy One to place only one non-jurisdictional charge on customer bills, for a service called Strike Stop. This program appears on the bills of less than 12,000 (less than two percent) of the Company’s approximately 740,000 electric customers, Duke said

In a separate request, Ohio Edison Company, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, and The Toledo Edison Company (the FirstEnergy EDUs) sought a "limited waiver" of the amendments to O.A.C. 4901:1-10-33(A), which now provides that an electric utility cannot discriminate or unduly restrict a customer’s CRES provider from including non-jurisdictional charges on a consolidated electric bill

"To avoid risks of discrimination as stakeholders work to implement this rule change, the Companies’ approach to compliance with O.A.C. 4901:1-10-33(A) is to not include any provider’s non-jurisdictional charges on the consolidated bill, including the Companies’ own non-jurisdictional charges," the FirstEnergy EDUs said

The FirstEnergy EDUs are currently charging approximately 165,000 customers on the utility consolidated bill for products or services other than retail electric service (e.g. non-jurisdictional).

"In response to the rule amendments, the Companies have discontinued marketing on-bill payment for products and services as an option to customers and have discontinued enrolling customers in on-bill payment. The Companies are now engaged in discontinuing the use of on-bill payment to the customers currently using it," the FirstEnergy EDUs said

"This will require a short transition period to avoid and mitigate customer confusion and harm. Therefore, the Companies will remove all customers’ non-jurisdictional charges from the utility consolidated bill within six months, at which time the Companies will be fully compliant with the new rule. Accordingly, the Companies respectfully request a limited waiver through May 1, 2022," the FirstEnergy EDUs said

Case No. 21-1100-EL-WVR, Case No. 21-1125-EL-WVR

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