Regulator's Staff Says That Third-Party Websites May Not Enroll Customers Unless They Are An Aggregator Or Designated Supplier Agent (& Receive Training / Monitoring From Supplier)
January 25, 2023 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Office of Education, Outreach and Enforcement (EOE) of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s (Authority) sought clarification regarding suppliers’ use of entities to facilitate customer enrollments, as EOE said that third-party websites may not enroll customers unless such website is a certified aggregator or is a listed agent of a supplier
PURA has previously held that aggregators may not receive compensation from a retail supplier. PURA has previously stated that aggregators must act as the customers’ agents in negotiating electric generation prices for the gathered customers, and that law precludes aggregators from acting as agents for suppliers
PURA does not offer a "broker" or consultant registration. Numerous brokers have sought registration as aggregators, only to be rejected due to how Connecticut defines an aggregator (customer agent)
EOE says that any non-supplier entities, who do not meet the standard to qualify as aggregators, may only enroll customers if they are a formal "agent" of a retail supplier, and, among other things, receive training from the supplier
EOE noted that PURA has previously defined supplier "agent" to mean, "any person, whether an employee, representative, independent contractor, broker, marketer, vendor, sales conduit through multi-level marketing, or member of any organization, who (A) has contracted with, or has been directly authorized by, a Supplier or Aggregator to conduct marketing or sales activities or to enroll customers on behalf of the Supplier or Aggregator; or (B) has received compensation, in any form, from a Supplier or Aggregator for any activities relating to the sales or marketing of the Supplier or Aggregator’s electric generation services or the referral, enrollment or servicing of customers on behalf of the Supplier or Aggregator."
"EOE understands that Connecticut law supports ... two distinct entities (agents and aggregators) enrolling customers with suppliers and that Connecticut law provides for no other entity to enroll customers with suppliers," EOE said
"As a result, EOE wishes to clarify that suppliers may not accept enrollments from and/or through websites that are not either registered as the supplier’s agent (as indicated on their Form 6 [filed with PURA]) or who have received a Connecticut aggregator certificate," EOE said
EOE said, "If a customer enrolls through a website that is not an agent of the supplier or is not an approved aggregator, the customer may not receive the Marketing Standards’ protections regarding timing of enrollment submissions."
"Both Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245o(h)(1) and the Marketing Standards require suppliers to train their agents and to be responsible for their agents’ actions. Presumably this training and the associated liability the supplier could incur ensure that suppliers’ agents thoroughly understand Connecticut supplier and marketing laws. If the supplier accepts an enrollment from an entity that is not the supplier’s agent, the same training and protections cannot be ensured," EOE said
"[T]he Authority should clarify that it does not permit suppliers to accept enrollments from unregulated entities such as third-party websites that are not the supplier’s agent (i.e., not trained and monitored by the supplier) or a registered aggregator subject to Authority jurisdiction," EOE said
"EOE requests that the Authority clarify that suppliers may not accept enrollments from and/or through websites that are not the supplier’s agent or a registered aggregator," EOE said
EOE further sought that PURA affirm its prior finding that, "suppliers may not compensate aggregators for enrollments."
"Websites such as EnergizeCT.com that link a customer to the supplier’s website and require the customer to enroll on the supplier’s website (i.e., the customer cannot enroll through the third-party website) may continue to link customers to supplier’s websites for enrollments," EOE said