Texas Retail Provider Enters Settlement With PUC Staff Concerning Alleged Disconnection Violations
April 26, 2023 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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Gexa Energy, LP would pay $46,150 under a settlement with Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to resolve alleged violations of PURA § 39.101(h) and 16 TAC § 25.483(j), related to disconnection of service
Under PURA § 39.101(h), a REP may not disconnect service to a residential customer during an extreme weather emergency or on a weekend day.
Under 16 TAC § 25.483(j), a REP having disconnection authority under the provision of subsection (b) of that section shall not authorize a disconnection for nonpayment of electric service for any customer in a county in which an extreme weather emergency occurs, as defined in 16 TAC § 25.483(j)(1)
Commission Staff alleged that from November 1, 2020 through September 1, 2022, Gexa authorized the disconnection for nonpayment of electric service for 72 customers located in counties affected by extreme weather emergencies to be completed during the pendency of the emergency.
The settlement states that the transmission and distribution utilities that received Gexa’s alleged requests to disconnect service for nonpayment did not complete any of the authorized disconnections.
The settlement states that Gexa asserts it has implemented the following protective measures to prevent future authorizations of disconnections for nonpayment during extreme weather emergencies, and will continue to implement such measures going forward:
a. Additional Personnel Receiving National Weather Service (NWS) Alerts
Gexa has increased the number of operations personnel who receive NWS emergency weather alerts. Gexa’s current multi-step verification process now not only ensures all moratoriums are properly entered into internal systems but also utilizes two operations personnel to mitigate potential human error. When it is determined that an extreme weather emergency is occurring, one operations personnel enters the moratorium(s) and another operations personnel checks what has been entered for accuracy before any disconnection for nonpayment orders are sent. Because Gexa has increased the number of personnel who receive NWS alerts, Gexa will also conduct cross training on the verification process to further prevent errors due to staff absence or turnover.
b. In-Depth Disconnect/Reconnect Request Evaluation
Gexa’s increase in the number of operations personnel receiving NWS alerts has put Gexa in a better position to more proactively evaluate decisions surrounding disconnection requests and take actions to ensure all processes comply with Commission rules. Gexa continuously discusses processes and makes decisions related to extreme weather moratoriums in order to ensure compliance with Commission rules.
The settlement further states that Gexa has implemented a plan to begin conducting seasonal preparedness meetings to review system processes, conduct additional as-needed trainings, and ensure all teams are prepared for potential future weather events while adhering to Commission rules.
Gexa neither admits nor denies the allegations detailed in the settlement