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Regulator Allows Another Specific Retail Supplier To Resume In-Person Marketing At Storefronts

Denies Petition From Another Supplier For Appointment Marketing

February 18, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Illinois Commerce Commission today voted to grant petitions from Just Energy to resume in-person marketing of both electricity and natural gas at storefronts and similar retail establishments, subject to conditions

A written order was not immediately available, but generally the ICC adopted the proposed terms governing such authorization as set forth in a draft order, with such terms also mirroring the conditions placed on the NRG Energy retail suppliers when the NRG companies were recently granted authority to resume in-store, in-person marketing for electricity

Under the ICC's order, Just Energy may resume in-store, in-person marketing subject to the following conditions:

• Just Energy shall comply with not only the requirements of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, but also with the requirements of their retail partners and their own safety requirements, as well as those of any municipality or county in which it conducts in-person solicitations; Just Energy will not be held harmless for failure to comply with all such requirements

• Just Energy shall monitor the actions of its sales agents and any third-party vendors to make sure that all requirements, including the Commission’s requirements in 83 Ill. Adm. Code 412, are being met;

• The relief granted to be granted by the order only applies to those areas of the State that remain in Phase 4 status, and if the State as a whole or any area reverts to Phase 3 or lower, or any municipality determines that Phase 4 or similar retail guidelines cannot be maintained consistent with public safety, Just Energy must immediately cease in-store solicitations

The relief under the order applies only to Just Energy, and not any other retail suppliers

Separately, the ICC denied a petition for interlocutory review concerning an ALJ's ruling which denied the requests of several retail suppliers for the resumption of various in-person marketing methods other than in-store marketing

See background on the ALJ's ruling denying such requests here

IGS sought interlocutory review because IGS argued that the ALJ's ruling ignored IGS's unique by-appointment marketing proposal that only allowed in-person sales to occur with prior consent of the customer, and "lumped" IGS into denials of broader requests from other suppliers to resume unsolicited in-person marketing

IGS said that its proposal, "is narrowly tailored to allow for a limited form of in-person solicitation that, at a minimum, is consistent with the health rules established by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity."

Specifically, IGS sought approval for a mechanism that will allow IGS employees (not third-party contractors) to conduct in-person solicitation of customers so long as those customers provide prior consent to: (1) meeting in person, (2) at a specific time and place that is agreeable to both the customer and the IGS employee.

"To be clear, a customer who has not provided prior consent to meeting will not have an in-person meeting with an IGS-employed salesperson -- at that customer’s house or elsewhere. IGS’s proposed model is completely different from unscheduled door-to-door solicitations that necessarily occur without prior contact with (much less consent of) the customer. Any in-person interaction between an IGS employee and a prospective customer shall only occur after the customer provides his or her consent to meeting," IGS said in its petition for interlocutory review

The ICC denied IGS's petition for interlocutory review by a vote of 4-1

Commissioner Sadzi Martha Oliva would have granted interlocutory review, noting that, under IGS's mechanism, in-person marketing would not occur without prior customer consent. Oliva said that this provided a safe means to conduct in-person sales, and that the Commission should address suppliers' various unique marketing approaches on a case-by-case basis

A separate petition for interlocutory review of the same broader ALJ order which denied in-person marketing -- this petition filed by Vistra -- remains pending before the Commission, and the Commission did not take action on Vistra's petition for interlocutory review

Docket 20-0310 et al.

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