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March 2, 2012
NEM's 15th Annual National Restructuring Conference

Since this is the beginning of NEM’s 15th Year, we have made special plans to celebrate this milestone at our 15th Annual National Restructuring Conference in Washington, DC on April 24 and 25, 2012. The Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites DC Convention Center, 900 10th Street, NW, Washington, DC. The Agenda is available at this hotlink.

Public Service Commission Chairs, Commissioners and other elected and appointed officials from around the country have already started to confirm their participation. Your sponsorship and support would be very helpful to make this NEM Event the best ever.

Sponsorship opportunities for this event can be viewed online at this hotlink.

Early registration for the April event is available online at this hotlink.

Click here to view all past updates.
HB1028 on Retail Supply Auctions

The Economic Matters Committee in the House is considering HB1028 on retail electric supply auctions. The bill would require the Commission to study and make recommendations as to whether to establish an auction for retail electric companies to provide to the electric utilities’ standard service offer customers. The Commission would be required to consider the manner of conducting the auction, treatment of low income customers, the frequency and timeframe of the auctions as well as applicable procedures, and “the disposition of proceeds from auctions to benefit residential electric customers.” The Committee will consider the bill in a hearing on March 9, 2012. The full text of HB1028 is available on the NEM Website.

Commission to Explore Opt Out Option for Smart Meters

The Commission is requesting comment and will conduct a hearing on the issue of whether to provide consumers with the ability to opt out of receiving smart meters. Specifically, the Commission wishes to explore whether providing consumers with the ability to opt out is in the public interest, and, if such an opt out ability is provided, what is the appropriate structure for it. Specific questions raised by the Commission for consideration include:

“a.The effect of such an option on the overall smart meter project’s costs and benefits, including the effect on energy savings, outage detection, and management and incremental costs;

b. How such an option might affect the current schedule for installing the smart meters;

c. Whether such an option will affect the types, components and/or configuration of the meters available to customers who choose to opt out of a smart meter; for example, whether an opt-out option would be limited to not enabling some or all of the communications capability of a smart meter.

d. The effect such an option might have upon future meter reading;

e. The effect such an option might have upon the communication of data between the utility and customers;

f. The effect such an option might have upon the utility’s future billing practices;

g. The effect such an option might have upon the utility’s electric tariff rate structures as well as any energy programs; and

h. The structure of any “opt-out” program, including the effect on customer education, the means by which customers might opt out, the means by which customers might re-enroll, how such an option would be administered to new customers within the utility’s service area, and any charges that should be imposed on customers who choose to opt out.”

Comments are due April 6, 2012, and reply comments are due April 27, 2012. The hearing will take place on May 22, 2012, beginning at 10AM. The full text of the Notice of Hearing and Opportunity to Comment is available on the NEM Website.

Comments Sought on Supplier Web Disclosure Requirements

The Commission is requesting comments on the implementation of statutory disclosure requirements applicable to suppliers for internet postings regarding their services and rates for small commercial and residential customers. Commission Staff previously filed a request with the Commission in December to seek input from stakeholders on this issue.
PUA Section 7-507(j) provides as follows: “An electricity supplier shall post on the Internet information that is readily understandable about its services and rates for small commercial and residential electric customers.”
The Commission has requested comment on the following specific questions associated with compliance with Section 7-507(j):
“1. Do we need to create a distinction between suppliers who have “open offers” to any eligible customer and suppliers and brokers who generally have only negotiated contracts with customers? If a supplier has existing customers, but no offers to new customers, does this supplier need to post information about its services and rates?
2. Can a supplier’s ‘services’ and ‘prices’ be described in broad terms? (i.e., Would a phrase such as “We will work with multiple suppliers to get you the best price” qualify as “readily understandable information about . . . prices”?)
Some brokers, and most if not all CSPs, may not be able to post specific prices on their websites. In the event a broker or CSP does not have a specific offer price, what can they post to ensure compliance with PUA 7-507(j)?
3. Does PUA §7-507(j) require all suppliers to have a web site?
Statute requires that supplier post information “on the Internet”. Does posting on the Commission’s supplier web portal suffice?
4. If a supplier only provides service via negotiated contracts, how would that supplier comply with PUA §7-507(j)?
Would a posting on the internet that listed a specific price along with a statement such as “further discounts may be available” comply with PUA §7-507(j)?
5. What should be the rule for a variable price product offer?
How often should a supplier offering variable rate pricing be required to update their website?
6. Does every service offering need to be posted on the internet, or does posting a single offer on the internet qualify?
7. Is a posting that includes some variation of “Not offering service at this time” acceptable?
Should there be a requirement that suppliers who are not currently offering service explicitly state that on their websites?
8. Is a posting that states “contact the supplier for a quote” acceptable?
Is this allowable for brokers and aggregators?
9. Should PUA §7-507(j) apply to natural gas suppliers?
PUA §7-604(b) states that “in adopting orders and regulations under this section, unless the Commission determines that the circumstances do not require consistency, the Commission shall:
(1) provide customers with protections consistent with applicable protections provided to retail electric customers; and
(2) impose appropriate requirements on gas suppliers that are consistent with applicable requirements imposed on electricity suppliers.
10. Must a specific rate be posted on the website?
Is a supplier allowed to provide a general description of its rates?
11. Should the Commission define the term “small commercial”?
It is not clear to Staff which supplier offers are subject to PUA §7-507(j). If so, should the definition of small commercial be that of a Type I SOS customer?”
Comments are due March 23, 2012. The full text of the Request for Comment is available on the NEM Website.

New Jersey
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Review of BGS Procurement Process

As required by the Board, Staff has initiated a proceeding to review the current BGS procurement process. The focus of the proceeding will be on the current BGS procurement process, policy issues directly related thereto, and issues that are of particular interest to the Board that warrant individual consideration outside of the yearly BGS review process. The following procedural schedule has been established:
Initial Comments-March 30, 2012
Reply Comments-April 20, 2012
Legislative-Type Hearing-TBA
Final Comments-May 18, 2012
The full text of the Notice of the Review of BGS Procurement Process is available on the NEM Website.

Click here to view all past updates.
Commission Adopts Intermediate Work Plan on Retail Electric Market

The Commission adopted a final intermediate work plan establishing recommendations meant to improve competition in the retail electricity market. The intermediate work plan provides as follows:
1) The electric utilities shall send consumer education mailings including a trifold flyer in May 2012 and utility letter and FAQs in October 2012;
2) The Commission’s website should be expanded to provide small business customers with comparative pricing data along with other terms and conditions from various suppliers in their service territories;
3) The electric utilities shall implement a New/Moving customer referral program by the end of the fourth quarter of 2012;
4) The electric utilities shall also implement a Standard Offer Customer Referral Program that should be included as a proposal in the utilities’ upcoming default service plan filing or as an amendment to a currently pending filing;
5) The electric utilities shall implement a retail opt-in auction program that consist of a term of six billing cycles that is open to both residential default service and residential shopping customers but to which marketing and education efforts will be targeted at non-shopping customers;
6) The electric utilities shall include PTC information on the bills of all customers;
7) The electric utilities shall make sample bills available on their websites for electric suppliers to access;
8) A Risk Assessment Working Group shall be formed to study risk assessment models and to recommend whether a uniform risk assessment model should be adopted.
The full text of the Order is available on the NEM Website.

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