Regulator Has Received Consumer Complaints Concerning Multiple Municipal Aggregations, Concerning Incorrect Info, SOS Drops, More
Alleges Municipal Aggregations Failing To Maintain Current Pricing On Their Websites
Regulator Says Statutory Mandate For Program Reliability Includes Assurances That Program Will Operate Without Interruption & That Municipality Has Necessary Technical Expertise
November 16, 2022 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“Department”) said in a letter to all of the state's municipal aggregations that the DPU, "has received several complaints from customers of municipal aggregation programs (“Programs” or “Program”) throughout the Commonwealth."
"These complaints range from enrollment issues, incorrect information, customers being notified that they will be returned to basic service (and then are not), new customers being denied enrollment in a Program, opt-out customers being denied re-enrollment in a Program, and omitted Program information on municipality or Program websites (e.g., absence of current Program pricing, absence of current and future electricity supplier contact information, and absence of municipality officials’ contact information on Program websites)," the DPU said
"The Department reminds you of the statutory Program requirements of universal access, reliability, and equitable treatment of all classes of customers. G.L. c. 164, § 134(a). Universal access requires that a Program be made available to all customers within a municipality. Town of Salisbury, D.P.U. 16-51, at 8 (2016); City of Lowell, D.P.U. 12-124, at 44-46 (2013); City of Marlborough, D.T.E. 06-102, at 19 (2007); Cape Light Compact, D.T.E. 00-47, at 47 (2000)," the DPU wrote
"Universal access also allows municipality residents to opt out of and opt in to a Program at any time," the DPU said
"Programs must provide for reliability. G.L. c. 164, § 134(a). This includes assurances that the Program will be operated without interruption and the municipality has the technical expertise necessary to operate its Program," the DPU said
"Finally, Programs must provide for equitable treatment of customer classes. G.L. c. 164, § 134(a). Equitable treatment of all customer classes does not mean all customer classes must be treated equally; rather, customer classes that are similarly situated must be treated equitably. D.P.U. 16-51, at 10, citing Cape Light Compact, D.P.U. 14-69, at 10-16, 45-47; D.T.E. 06-102, at 20," the DPU said
"Thus, customers served by a competitive supplier at Program initiation who later join the Program must receive the Program rate, like those new customers who move to the municipality after Program initiation. Further, a Program may elect to offer customers who have previously opted out and wish to opt in a Program rate or a market-based rate; a Program may not refuse to serve such customers. Program competitive suppliers are required to provide all-requirements service to all customers residing within a municipality (unless a customer opts out), and nothing in Department Orders, rules, or directives involving municipal aggregation or competitive supply allow any Program competitive supplier to deny electric service to a customer," the DPU said
Concerning requirements for aggregation programs, the DPU alleged that, "As of November 9, 2022, the Towns of Brookline, Carver, Charleton, Kingston, Lancaster, Millbury, Oxford, Tyngsborough, West Brookfield, and Winchendon do not have current (November 2022) Program pricing on their Program websites. Notably, municipalities that enter into new, future Electric Service Agreements are failing to maintain current Program pricing on their websites."
The DPU directed that, "Within ten business days from the date of this letter, Municipalities and their consultants shall ensure that: (1) current (and future, if applicable) pricing for Program products is available on Program websites; (2) current (and future, if applicable) competitive supplier information is available on Program websites; (3) municipal and/or consultant contact information is prominently available on Program websites; and (4) the content of websites and Program notifications to customers have been reviewed to ensure all information is up-to-date and accurate."