Pa. PUC Considering Auto-Enrollment Of Customers Onto CAP (Would Lose Shopping Eligibility)
March 28, 2023
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The Pennsylvania PUC has initiated a review of the Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) at all utilities.
CAP customers cannot shop for a competitive retail supplier at most utilities in Pennsylvania. In such service areas, customers eligible for CAP are not required to join the CAP program, but if the customer elects to receive CAP benefits, the customer must be served on default service, and must cease being served by a retail supplier
Specifically, the PUC is seeking comments from interested parties regarding how the Commission’s regulations, policies and procedures could be revised with a particular focus on, among other things, streamlining the eligibility and enrollment process for CAP customers, and reducing the number of otherwise eligible consumers from losing low-income benefits due to the verification or re-enrollment process.
"The goal of these improvement considerations is to make enrollment and retainment in universal service as efficient as possible for the consumer and the utility while maintaining proper diligence and verification for eligibility," the PUC said
Notably, the PUC asked, "Is an automatic enrollment program feasible where any mechanism through which an electronic exchange of information between a utility and a state social service agency confirms the eligibility of public benefits whether or not the information is expressly authorized by the household? If express authorization is needed, rather than automatic enrollment, can that express authorization be provided one time in a uniform application rather than on a utility-by-utility basis using separate applications?"
The PUC also asked stakeholders to consider an intake process for CAP customers under which one utility (or another single entity) would perform intake for all utilities. "How can consumer consent be built into the intake process that permits the utility doing the intake to provide the enrollment information to the other utilities serving the consumer," the PUC asked
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