PUC Adopts Settlement Under Which Utility Will Convene Taskforce To Examine Potential Exit From Merchant Function For Non-Residential Customers
January 25, 2023 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted, without modification to various retail market provisions, a non-unanimous stipulation in a Columbia Gas of Ohio distribution rate case under which Columbia will convene a collaborative to discuss a potential exit from the merchant function for non-residential customers
The adopted stipulation provides that, "Columbia shall convene a Non-Residential Customer Exit the Merchant Function Taskforce with participation open to the parties and interested stakeholders to discuss the specific details of a filing regarding a potential modification or exit by Columbia from the merchant function for non-residential customers (i.e., non-residential customers that consume 300 Mcf or more on an annual basis)."
"In no event shall the Taskforce address an exit of the merchant function for residential consumers, regardless of the rate class in which these residential customers are served," the approved stipulation notes
The Taskforce is to convene within 90 days and is to continue to meet on a regular basis until a filing, as described above, is made.
"The Taskforce discussion will include a potential transition of Columbia’s non-residential customers from the SCO," the stipulation provides
"Within one year from the approval of the Stipulation, Columbia agrees to make a filing regarding a potential modification or exit by Columbia from the merchant function for non-residential customers. Columbia’s filing will endeavor to incorporate discussions from the Non-Residential Customer Exit the Merchant Function Taskforce. The Signatory Parties shall reserve all substantive and due process rights to support, oppose, or take any other action with regard to Columbia’s filing pursuant to this Stipulation section," the stipulation provides
Additionally, the approved stipulation provides that Columbia will withdraw its proposal to implement a Carbon Reduction Rider, which was a proposed carbon offset program to be offered by the utility. Columbia agrees not to file for approval of a similar rider prior to the filing of its next base distribution rate case, unless the Commission orders otherwise
Furthermore, the stipulation provides that Columbia also will not adopt Staff’s recommendation to implement a carbon offset program as a non-regulated service under its existing "Optional Services" tariff. The Signatory Parties therefore agree that Staff’s recommendation to implement a carbon offset program should not be implemented in the current proceeding.
The approved stipulation provides that Columbia will cease its Regulatory Assessment Rider. Columbia had proposed recovering parts of the PUCO and OCC assessment costs under this rider, but all such costs will be recovered through base rates
The stipulation does not eliminate the Columbia Gas switching fee
The stipulation provides that Columbia agrees to implement by August 31, 2023, after consultation with Signatory Parties, "a reasonable electronic online means to allow its consumers to opt out of Columbia’s eligible customer list for disclosing Columbia consumers’ contact information to certified retail natural gas suppliers for their marketing."
For consumers who change their minds, the electronic online means will allow consumers to opt into Columbia’s eligible customer list, the stipulation notes.
The opt out/opt into shall be visible to consumers and accessible through Columbia’s website without requiring customers to sign into their accounts. The costs of this provision shall not be borne by consumers, the stipulation provides.
The online process established shall be similar to the current opt-out/opt-into process offered by Ohio Power Company d/b/a AEP Ohio