PSC Sets Rulemaking To Consider Competing Drafts Of Opt-Out Aggregation Rules (CCAs New To State)
Disputed Issues Include Whether CCA Rates Are Subject To PSC Approval, Purchased Receivables, Opt-out Period
January 25, 2023 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
The following story is brought free of charge to readers byVertexOne, the exclusive EDI provider of EnergyChoiceMatters.com
The Maryland PSC has opened a rulemaking (RM80) for the purpose of
establishing regulations for the Montgomery County Community Choice Aggregation Pilot
Competing sets of proposed rules have been filed by PSC Staff and Montgomery County. After receiving stakeholder comment, the Commission will conduct a rulemaking session on February
23, 2023, and, if needed, February 24, 2023
Among the key non-consensus issues from a CCA workgroup is whether the CCA must seek PSC approval for its rates
PSC Staff said, "Staff believes ... that the Commission should apply a level of oversight and scrutiny to the CCA that more closely aligns with SOS, while the County’s position ... is that the statute grants the County the broad authority to form and operate a CCA able to make independent energy supply decisions in a manner similar to how competitive retailers provide services."
Staff argued that, "The CCA legislation requires Commission approval of initial CCA default rates and default rates ... Staff has proposed a 2-part approval process in which the Commission would review the county’s aggregation plan and procurement method in Step 1 and then review the CCA’s resultant proposed initial rates and fees for service in Step 2 of the approval process."
In support of its position, Staff argued that the statute requires that the CCA aggregation plan, which must be filed with the PSC, shall contain, "proposed terms of service, rates, and categories of charges, fees, or any other costs to customers unrelated to the actual cost of the electricity supply." Staff further said that statute requires that a CCA must receive PSC approval of such aggregation plan (which Staff argued requires rates to be included) in order for the CCA to commence operations.
Montgomery County opposed subjecting CCA rates to PSC approval, quoting a letter from the state's Office of the Attorney General concerning the CCA statute which reads in part, "Nothing in the plain language of the statute or the legislative history suggests that the actual contracts between the CCA and its electricity suppliers are to be approved by the PSC as part of the CCA’s aggregation plan."
Aside from rate information, Staff's proposed regulations generally would require CCAs to submit more specific information concerning their aggregations, versus the County's proposed regulations
Staff proposed that all optional service enrollments onto non-default CCA products, and enrollments of retail choice customers and customers who have previously selected SOS, shall use the existing methods of contracting for retail supply per COMAR 20.53.07.08 C.
This requires the customer to provide to the CCA the customer’s account number or other unique enrollment information to the CCA and the CCA to record the date and time of the enrollment request, among other requirements.
Montgomery County said, "Montgomery County believes that enrolling in the CCA as a general matter should not vary based on whether the customer is taking the CCA Basic Service or an Optional Service such as a different renewable content. For example, customers may have the option to select a product whose renewable content is higher than the CCA Basic Service, and which may be priced higher; in this instance, such customers would simply make the election and be enrolled accordingly. If the CCA offers an Optional Service for which the financial obligations make additional consent appropriate, the CCA will implement such a process."
Staff proposes that the price to compare on bills in Montgomery County should be the CCA default rate. Montgomery County said that the price to compare on such bills should remain the SOS rate
An example CCA transition timeline in Staff's rules presume a start date for the Montgomery County CCA of October 1, 2024.
However, Montgomery County informed interested parties that Montgomery County would not now begin CCA service before October 1, 2025.
There is also not consensus on the notice to be provided to residents within a CCA. Statute requires two notices -- an initial general formation notice, and a second notice with specific rates
Specifically, AOBA proposes that customers should be able to opt out in response to both notices. Montgomery County proposes that opt-outs should only be accepted after the second notice is issued
Both proposed regulations would have CCAs use utility consolidated billing
However, Staff and the Joint Utilities argued that utilities should not be purchasing any non-commodity charges, and that those charges should be billed separately. Montgomery County argues that HB768 specifically authorizes the Montgomery County CCA to promote the use of renewable energy and to provide and promote energy efficiency programs. "The statute does not require itemization on the bill. Accordingly, the costs of such efforts will be described in the CCA’s Aggregation Plan and budget, and such costs will be included in customers’ kWh charges," the County said
The initial estimate of the amount of residential and small commercial customers who would be eligible to receive service through the CCA is roughly 325,000 customers, including just under 14,000 BGE customers, just under 35,000 PE customers, and roughly 275,000 Pepco customers.