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January 11, 2013
NEM Winter Executive Committee Meeting

Please mark your calendars for NEM's Winter Executive Committee Meeting to be held on January 28-30, 2013. The meeting will once again be held at SCRA located at 5300 International Blvd, North Charleston, South Carolina. The Agenda for the Executive Committee meeting is available at this hotlink. Many thanks to Bill Mahoney and SCRA for graciously hosting us. You may register for the meeting at this hotlink. Accommodations for the meeting have been arranged at the Hilton Garden Inn at the NEM rate of $112 per night for reservations made by January 20th. Please use this hotlink to make your hotel reservations.

Click here to view all past updates.
Smart Meter Opt Out Inquiry

In its inquiry into advanced metering infrastructure and the possibility of providing consumers with the ability to opt out of smart meter installations, the Commission has decided it has insufficient information on the record to make a determination at this time. Therefore, the Commission will conduct further proceedings to decide whether: "a) to allow customers the option of retaining their current analog meter, or b) to require all customers to receive a smart meter but with the option to have that meter installed to operate in an “RF-free” or near RF-free manner." The utilities have provided information about the costs of allowing consumers to retain their current analog meters as well as the reduction in benefits that will be realized from AMI if consumers do not participate in the installation. However, the Commission found the current record is insufficient for it to quantify the associated additional costs and foregone benefits of allowing customers to retain their current analog meter. Nor does the record adequately quantify the costs associated with providing the option to customers of receiving alternative AMI meters. The utilities are to be provide proposals and related costs of the two different options by July 1, 2013.

Chairman Nazarian and Commissioner Speakes-Backman issued a dissent explaining that they would have decided, "not to allow opt-outs and would direct the companies to provide customers with a significantly reduced or RF-free advanced meter installation alternative that would preserve a single metering system infrastructure." Their argument was based on how allowing opt-outs significantly undermines the AMI business case. The majority decision noted in a footnote that it was not foreclosing this option, but was focusing on the need for increased cost information before deciding the opt out issue.

The full texts of the Order and Dissent are available on the NEM Website.

Click here to view all past updates.
Orders on DEO and Columbia Gas Exit of Merchant Function for Non-Residential Consumers

The Commission issued another Order in DEO's transitional plan to exit the merchant function. The settlement just approved by the Commission allows DEO to eliminate its standard choice offer (SCO) for choice-eligible nonresidential customers beginning on April 1, 2013. As of that date, a choice-eligible nonresidential customer who has not selected a natural gas supplier will be served by the next available supplier on a rotating list of providers on that supplier’s monthly variable rate (MVR). DEO may not file a request to exit the merchant function for residential customers before April 1, 2015. The full text of the DEO Order is available on the NEM Website.

The Commisison also adopted a settlement for Columbia Gas to eliminate the SCO for nonresidential customers upon achieving certain switching thresholds. The settlement runs from April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2018. By the terms of the settlement, Columbia’s exit from the merchant function for nonresidential customers is contingent upon achieving seventy percent or more nonresidential consumers shopping for three consecutive months. After which, these consumers would have a choice between commodity service by a Competitive Retail Natural Gas Service (CRNGS) provider through the company’s choice program or MVR program. The settlement also provides that Columbia may not file an application to exit the merchant function for residential customers until at least 22 months after its potential exit for nonresidential customers. The full text of the Columbia Gas Order is available on the NEM Website.

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