PSC Approves Retail Supplier, Utility Communications To Energy Assistance Customers Whose Shopping Will Be Restricted To PSC-Approved Products This Summer
April 12, 2023 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Maryland PSC approved the consensus recommendations of the PC 44 workgroup for communications that retail suppliers and utilities will send to customers due to a recent law in Maryland that limits customers who receive energy assistance through a program administered by the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) to retail supplier offers that have been approved by the PSC, effective July 1, 2023
As previously reported, new § 4-308 of the Public Utilities Article, Annotated Code of Maryland prohibits a third-party retail supplier from offering to provide electricity or gas services to a residential household receiving OHEP assistance, beginning July 1, 2023, unless the Commission has approved the supply offer (i.e., 'Energy Assistance Supply Offers')
The PSC-approved Energy Assistance Supply Offers must be below the default service rate for the entire duration of the supply contract.
As set forth in previously adopted rules, the PSC at its administrative meeting today reiterated that retail suppliers may continue to serve energy assistance customers who are on existing fixed term contracts that extend beyond July 1, 2023 under such existing contracts, but suppliers may not renew or re-enroll such customers upon the contract's term expiration, to the extent the customer remains an energy assistance customer.
Month to month contracts are defined as a one-month term with monthly renewals. As such, retail suppliers must drop month to month energy assistance customers to SOS, in the absence of a PSC-approved offer. A "renewal" of a month to month contract that begins before July 1, 2023 may continue for its full one-month term, but not beyond that specific one-month renewal (i.e., a month to month energy assistance customer whose monthly term auto renews on June 15 can continue to be served until July 14, but not beyond July 14).
As previously reported, in brief, the PC 44 workgroup reached a general consensus on a hybrid framework where the Utilities will send a targeted Notice to current and previous fiscal year Energy Assistance Household customers, informing them of the change in law and what it means for Energy Assistance Supply Offers beginning July 1. The Utilities will also post similar information related to this change on their websites, for a broader audience, incorporating key content from the targeted Notice.
Under the workgroup consensus adopted by the PSC, third-party retail suppliers will also notify those customers affected by the change in law by including in customer drop notices a description of this change and its impacts.