|NEM Comments on Accelerated Switching Timeframe|
The Commission issued a Tentative Order setting forth interim guidelines on standards for changing a customer’s electricity generation supplier. The proposals are intended to facilitate the more timely transfer of the switch of a customer’s account from the utility to a competitive supplier or between competitive suppliers. The main elements of the proposal are to: 1) eliminate the ten-day confirmation waiting period within which the utility holds a customer enrollment request; 2) adoption of certain measures by electric generation suppliers (EGSs) regarding the communication to customers of the start date of service and to promote the timely submission of enrollment transactions to the utilities; and 3) provision of consumer education by EGSs, utilities and the Commission on switching timeframes.
In its comments, NEM supported the elimination of the ten day confirmation waiting period and corresponding utility confirmation letter to be replaced with a utility account transfer letter. NEM noted that there is a significant increased burden associated with including specific dates in EGS marketing and the disclosure statement. NEM suggested that consumers would be just as well served by the EGS providing a generalized explanation in marketing communications and the disclosure statement that their service will commence on the next utility meter read date coupled with the inclusion of the next meter read date in the account transfer letter. NEM supported the application of the Interim Guidelines, or an appropriate subset of the Interim Guidelines, to the natural gas industry, but suggested that the stakeholders may want to collaboratively consider the impact of the guidelines on the different switching process and operational standards that are in place at the gas utilities. The full text of NEM's Comments is available on the NEM Website.
|Recommendations on Electric Utilities Default Service Plans|
The Commission issued recommendations and guidelines with respect to the format and structure of the electric utilities' upcoming default service plans, which it said should be viewed, "as the starting point in developing the next phase of default service plans."
The recommendations are as follows:
1) the next phase of default service plans should run for two years;
2) with respect to energy contract durations: a) utilities should file plans limiting or eliminating the existence of short-term energy contracts extending past the end date of the upcoming default service plan time period; and b) utilities should limit the proportion of long-term contracts that make up their default service plan energy portfolios, and consider using already existing long-term contracts from previous or presently effective default service plans;
3)utilities should include an opt-in auction program in their upcoming default service plans;
4) utilities should include a customer referral program in their upcoming default service plans;
5) utilities should consider contracting with an EGS in order to satisfy their TOU rate requirement;
6) utilities should consider the incorporation of quarterly, semi-annual and/or annual default service rate over/under collection reconciliations within their next default service plans, and include more detailed information on how supply charges will be calculated for default service customers; and
7) utilities should file default service plans that create separate procurement groups for medium C&I customers.
The full text of the Order is available on the NEM Website.
|Proposed Intermediate Work Plan in Retail Electricity Markets Investigation |
The Commission issued a proposed intermediate work plan for comment in the Retail Electricity Markets Investigation. The proposed work plan sets forth the following recommendations:
"Expansion of consumer education to drive electric customers to www.PAPowerSwitch.com, the PUC’s website dedicated to helping consumers shop for electricity, and to increase general awareness of competitive markets and how to shop;
Acceleration of the switching timeframe when a customer shops for an alternative supplier;
Initiation of a customer referral program;
Initiation of a retail opt-in auction program;
Inclusion of the EDCs’ price to compare on customer bills; and
Increase in coordination between EDCs and EGSs."
Comments will be due thirty days after entry of the Order. The full text of the Proposed Intermediate Work Plan will be posted on the NEM Website when made available electronically.
|Secretarial Letter on Shopping Postcards for Electric Consumers|
The Commission issued a Secretarial Letter directing electric utilities to produce and mail a Commission-endorsed postcard encouraging customers to shop for a competitive electric generation supplier as well as promoting the Commission’s PAPowerSwitch website. The utilities mailing should be completed no later than February 29, 2012. The full text of the Secretarial Letter is available on the NEM Website.