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July 19, 2013
NEM CT Policy Leadership Roundtable and Fall Policy Leadership Roundtable

Please save the date for NEM’s CT Policy Leadership Roundtable to be held September 10-11, 2013 (please note: we will be adjourning at 5PM on Sept. 11), at the Hartford Club on 46 Prospect Street, Hartford, Connecticut. Commissioner Esty is confirmed to participate as well as CT State Senator Gary LeBeau, CT State Senator Bob Duff, CT State Representative Matthew Lesser and Consumer Counsel Elin Katz. Other top State Officials and Stakeholders have been invited. Registration is available on the NEM Website. NEM has also secured a block of rooms at a special member rate at the Hartford Marriott Downtown, 200 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, Connecticut. The Draft Agenda is available at this hotlink.

Please also plan to attend NEM’s Fall Policy Leadership Roundtable to be held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 28-30, 2013. PA PUC Chairman Powell, Vice Chairman Coleman, Commissioner Cawley and Commissioner Witmer are confirmed to participate as well as PA State Representative Jeff Pyle. Governor Corbett and other top State Officials and Stakeholders have also been invited. Registration is now available on the NEM website, and a special NEM rate of $139.00 per night is available at the Hilton Harrisburg (717-237-6408). The Draft Agenda is available at this hotlink.

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PURA Proceeding to Examine Electric Supplier Marketing Rules

PURA decided to open a docket to review electric supplier marketing rules. The full Order has not been posted yet. However, an initiating request from Staff in the docket folder cited legislative changes and increased customer complaints as the impetus for the inquiry. It stated, "In this proceeding PURA will clarify the new legislative requirements and establish rules and guidelines for electric suppliers and electric distribution companies concerning, but not limited to: customer switching practices, types of generation services or products allowed (fixed, variable rates, etc.), PURA filing requirements, the Rate Board, supplier marketing conduct, customer notices, and disclosure requirements." The full text of the Order will be posted when made available electronically.

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Order on Electric Customer Account Number Access Mechanism

The Commission issued an Order requiring the electric utilities to provide a customer account number access mechanism for electric generation suppliers (EGSs) to utilize for customers that are not on the eligible customer list. Completing the EDI transaction necessary to enroll and switch a customer, requires the customer’s account number. The Commission noted the particular difficulty of enrolling customers at public venues, like malls and fairs, which prevents energy offers from becoming as ubiquituous as telecom offerings. The Commission also recognized customer data privacy concerns that need to be protected attendant with such a mechanism. As suggested by NEM, the Commission approved the use of a passcode-protected website portal to access customer account numbers. The mechanism is approved for use in public venues. The Commission summarized the account number access mechanism as follows,

"EGSs will only be able to obtain an account number if the customer has provided the EGS with their name, address, photo identification and a signed LOA that explicitly describes the purpose of the LOA. The website portals will be passcode protected – users will have to identify themselves and provide a passcode. The website portal mechanism will retain a record of usage that can be provided to regulators. Commission regulations at 52 Pa. Code § 53.8 and 54.43(d) prohibits the unauthorized release of private customer information to a third party and requires that EGSs maintain the confidentiality of a consumer’s personal information. We repeat that the Commission has zero tolerance for violations of customer privacy and confidentiality and that any EGS who obtains a customer account number without authorization from the customer and/or uses or discloses an account number inappropriately will be held responsible for such. Any breach can result in the imposition of civil penalties and the suspension or revocation of their license per Section 54.42 (relating to License suspension; license revocation)."

With respect to cost recovery for implementation of the account access mechanisms, the Commission decided, "each EDC should submit to the Commission for consideration its estimated cost for implementation and maintenance of this information system and the incremental costs for administering its cost recovery proposal when it files its compliance plan. Depending on the level of costs, EDCs should consider having EGSs pay a fair share of the development and maintenance costs for these information sharing systems, given that these systems will be used by EGSs to accommodate their selected marketing model. If the costs justify it, consideration should be given to a user-fee structure so that the EGS cost recovery portion is limited to those EGSs that actually use and benefit from the information sharing systems."

The electric utilities are required to make their compliance filings no later than six months from the date of the Order, with the account access mechanisms to be in place no later than May 2014. The full text of the Order is available on the NEM Website.

Supplier Workshop Presentations

OCMO Staff has made presentations available from the June 20th Supplier Workshop in Harrisburg. This includes the Staff presentations on Marketing Regulations and the Informal Complaint Process as well as the presentation from the Office of Consumer Advocate. The presentations are excellent resources for understanding Commission compliance requirements and relevant Staff contacts.

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