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November 21, 2014
NEM Winter Executive Committee Meeting

NEM will convene its Winter Executive Committee Policy and Planning Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, on January 26-28, 2015. A Welcome Reception will be held between 5PM and 7PM on Monday, January 26, 2015. A golf outing take place on Monday afternoon before the Reception, and a Membership Dinner will be held on Tuesday night after the Meeting. All day on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, and a half day on January 28, 2015, Members will be prioritizing NEM advocacy issues, states and utility service territories and planning its consumer education and public relations/outreach goals for 2015 and beyond. There is no fee for Executive Committee Members to attend. A Draft Agenda is hotlinked here. Please use this link to register.

2014 FERC Staff Report on Enforcement

FERC Staff from the Office of Enforcement issued its 2014 Report on Enforcement yesterday. The Report highlighted the issues Enforcement focused on in FY2014 including:
• Fraud and market manipulation;
• Serious violations of the Reliability Standards;
• Anticompetitive conduct; and
• Conduct that threatens the transparency of regulated markets.

During FY2014, 17 new investigations were opened (down from 24 in FY2013), and 15 pending investigations were brought to closure with no action or settlement. During the year, Staff obtained nearly $25 million in civil penalties and disgorgement of approximately $4 million in unjust profits. Of the 17 investigations staff opened in FY2014, 9 involve market manipulation, 8 involve false statements to the Commission or an RTO/ISO, 11 involve tariff violations, and 1 involves Commission accounting standards and orders. The Report highlights the facts and results of the public and non-public investigations.

Staff also conducted a review of the Winter 2014 Polar Vortex events to determine whether manipulative trading behavior contributed to the high natural gas prices and elevated electricity costs that arose during the Polar Vortex and also whether market participants illegally took advantage of constrained conditions. As a result of its review, Staff found no evidence of widespread or sustained market manipulation. However, a non-public investigation related to the formation of a single monthly natural gas index and potential downward price manipulation has been initiated. Two other non-public investigations were opened to determine whether certain generators may have improperly benefited from the constrained conditions in the electric markets.

The full text of the 2014 FERC Staff Report on Enforcement is available on the NEM Website.

Click here to view all past updates.
NEM Comments on Consumer Bill of Rights Regulations

NEM filed comments on the Commission’s proposed amendments to Consumer Bill of Rights regulations. NEM is concerned that many of the proposed modifications to the regulations represent a significantly burdensome and costly increase in supplier compliance obligations without a commensurate consumer benefit and have been proffered without an accompanying explanation or rationale. NEM urged the Commission not impose:
1) archaic written contract requirements,
2) unnecessarily duplicative customer authorization requirements,
3) unjustified and potentially confusing changes in contract rescission periods (three business day rescission period for internet and home/personal solicitations and a five business day rescission period for telephonic solicitations),
4) duplicative and costly customer notice requirements, and
5) vague Commission compliance filing requirements.
The full text of NEM's Comments is available on the NEM Website.

Click here to view all past updates.
Staff Report and Recommendations in Consumer Protection Workgroup

The PSC Staff leader of the working group examining Maryland consumer protection regulations filed a report and recommendations with the Commission. The proceeding was prompted by legislation requiring an examination of the current status of consumer protection regulations as well as the winter 2014 polar vortex event and associated complaints.

Staff recommendations in the Report include:
1) Commencement of expedited proceedings to adopt the proposed regulations on the following:

a) Adoption of a Maryland Choice Disclosure Sheet (“CDS”) (i.e., a Schumer Box disclosure);
b) Provision of notice to a customer of a change in rate 30 days prior to the rate being billed to customers and, a “soft verification” that demonstrates the customer’s willingness to maintain the revised agreement with new rates and or fees;
c) Submission of offers made to Maryland mass market customers to the Commission website (high and low price offered to customers for the month);
d) Door to door sales shall require a completed signed contract;
e) Supplier filings with the Commission of training materials for unlicensed sales personnel, filing of information on a supplier's dress code for unlicensed sales personnel; and filing of a statement of compliance with local county and state solicitor and peddler registration requirements;

2) Charging a workgroup with further examining off cycle switching, supplier coordinated billing and remote bill look up, which entail changes to utility billing systems, to allow for a coordinated change;
3) Creation of a separate division within the Commission responsible for coordinating and managing supplier relations, engaging with local government and state agency stakeholders, and empowered with the authority to investigate and where appropriate initiate enforcement proceedings; and
4) Establishment of a permanent advisory group to develop, manage and implement Competitive Choice consumer education efforts.

The full text of the Report is available on the NEM Website.

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