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January 6, 2012
Upcoming NEM Meetings

January 2012 Executive Committee Meeting - NEM’s Annual Winter Executive Committee Meeting will be held at the headquarters of SCRA in Charleston, South Carolina on January 24-25, 2012. The Winter Executive Committee Meeting is where Executive Committee members set NEM's course for the coming year. Many thanks to Bill Mahoney and SCRA for hosting the Winter Executive Committee meeting. The Agenda for the meeting is linked here.

You may register for the meeting at this hotlink. NEM has a room block at the Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Airport, 5265 International Blvd in North Charleston, SC. You may register for the hotel at this hotlink or call the reservation number 843-308-9330 or 1-800-HILTONS and reference group code NLL.

Click here to view all past updates.
Commission Ends Columbia Gas Choice Program

Columbia Gas made a compliance filing in November 2010 to implement the Commission's gas choice regulations, including a POR program. Noting the expense of implementing the program and the high POR discount rate, Columbia discussed the option of discontinuing gas choice as uneconomic in its service territory. Upon review the Commission has determined, "that the Company has too few customers enrolled in the Choice program to make it economically viable when funded through a purchase of receivables (“POR”) discount rate, as the Commission’s long-standing policy requires. The Company has a customer base of 32,739, but only 772(approximately 2%) of its customers are active in the Choice program. Only two suppliers are currently active in their service territory. As of June 2011, the Company had incurred costs of $255,031 and estimated it would cost an additional $162,844 to finish implementation including purchase of receivables. This would result in a cost of approximately $15–20 per month per participating customer, or a POR discount rate of approximately 35%. . . On this record, the Commission is not persuaded that the Choice program is workable for the Company’s customers at this particular juncture. The Commission is not willing to deviate on these facts from the important principle of requiring suppliers to internalize the cost of Choice implementation. Where a Choice program can’t be funded on reasonable terms through an appropriate POR discount rate, the Commission is not willing to impose costs on the Company’s entire customer base through distribution rates, solely for the purpose of keeping a possibility of supplier choice available. If the economics of customer choice change in the Company’s service territory, the Commission urges the Company to re-examine the program and reapply." Columbia was ordered to file a plan by February 15, 2012, on the transition of existing choice customers back to utility service. The full text of the Order is available on the NEM Website.

Consumer Education and Customer Choice Workgroup Report Filed

The Final Report of the Consumer Education and Customer Choice (CECC) Workgroup has been filed with the Commission. The Report begins with the premise that, "the primary purpose of all State-based educational materials is to inform customers about electric Choice, not encourage or direct customers to make a choice." The Workgroup's primary recommendation is the, "development of a comprehensive educational campaign centered on the overhaul of the current Maryland Public Service Commission website, and replacing it with the materials and resources provided herein. The Report provides the complete text for the website, including a supplier offer page that replaces the current upload solution available on the Commission's website. In addition, the CECC proposes several other offline educational efforts designed to draw attention to the availability of Choice." The full text of the Report is available from NEM headquarters.

Click here to view all past updates.
Settlement Filed on DEO SSO and SCO Auctions

Parties have filed a proposed settlement with the Commission requesting that it modify an existing Order to allow DEO to combine its Standard Service Offer (SSO)auction and the Standard Choice Offer (SCO) auction into a single auction. The Parties request that the Commission issue an Order on the settlement by February 1, 2012, so that any changes may be implemented in time for the SSO and SCO auction scheduled for February 28, 2012. The bifurcated SSO and SCO structure was intended to provide consumers a benefit from suppliers willing to pay a premium to serve retail customers but that benefit has not been reflected in the past two auction cycles. The Parties additionally note that Vectren and Columbia have successfully implemented single SCO auctions. The full text of the Proposed Settlement is available on the NEM Website.

Click here to view all past updates.
NEM Comments on Retail Residential Marketing Standards

NEM filed comments on the Commission's Proposed Rulemaking Order on marketing and sales practices of electric generation suppliers (EGSs) and natural gas suppliers (NGSs). The Proposed Order includes proposed regulations based on Interim Guidelines for Marketing and Sales Practices for Electric Generation and Natural Gas Suppliers that were adopted by the Commission in November 2010. The proposed regulations do however differ from the Interim Guidelines in some respects. NEM’s comments were focused on the areas in which the proposed regulations would represent new or revised marketing standards from those contained in the Interim Guidelines. NEM's comments suggested modifications to the Commission's proposed definition of "agent" and also suggested clarifications to proposed requirements associated with agent qualifications and training, agent compensation and identification. The Commission proposed to require a supplier to provide the utility with general, non-proprietary information about sales or marketing activity that the supplier anticipates may generate phone calls and inquiries. The Interim Guidelines did not require the supplier to make such notification to the utility. NEM urged the Commission to continue to utilize the approach taken in the Interim Guidelines, which would reserve the decision to share such information with the utility to the supplier’s business discretion. NEM believes this represents the most appropriate approach given that the utilities still perform the merchant function in the marketplace and as such are direct competitors of competitive suppliers. The full text of NEM's Comments is available on the NEM Website.

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