Utility Plans To Streamline Process For Hardship Customers To Opt Into Electric Choice, Forfeit Hardship Status
November 28, 2022 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Connecticut Light & Power (Eversource) informed the Connecticut PURA that it plans to streamline the process for hardship customers to opt into electric choice, which requires that such customers forfeit their hardship status
All hardship customers in Connecticut are required to be served under default service
"Eversource will streamline the process for hardship (financial or medical) customers to voluntarily elect to exercise their existing right to opt-out of hardship status on their account in order to enroll with a retail electric supplier," CL&P said
CL&P said that the process for Eversource customers to opt-out of their hardship account status to choose a retail supplier has required a customer consent form process.
"The consent form process informs customers about key implications of relinquishing their hardship account status, including loss of eligibility to participate in arrears forgiveness programs and loss of Winter Protection. The Company is streamlining this process to help customers with hardship accounts be able to choose a retail supplier in a more timely manner," CL&P said
CL&P said that, since mid-2020, and as a result of customer concerns related to Docket 18-06-02 raised to PURA’s Education Outreach and Enforcement (EOE) and the Company, "a clear opt-out process and communications were developed for customers with verified low-income accounts who wanted to relinquish their hardship account status so they could choose a supplier."
The process was for customers to be sent, receive, sign, and send back to the Company an opt-out consent form via U.S. Mail, fax or via e-mail as a PDF. This process could take >5 days depending on the delivery channel and customer timing to sign and return the form.
CL&P said that, now, to avoid delays associated with sending, signing, receiving, and processing a customer consent form, Eversource is adapting the process to support consent verbally with a customer service representative (CSR) and without any customer consent form processes. "CSRs will be trained to share key cautions and implications to help ensure customers make an informed decision. The customer’s verbal consent alone will allow the Company to remove the hardship status on their account so they can choose a supplier," CL&P said
"The Company has begun to implement the streamlined customer consent process with associated CSR training and plans to continue moving forward unless PURA informs Eversource not to," CL&P said in a Nov. 28 letter to PURA