On February 25, 2014, the New York Public Service Commission issued its Order Taking Actions to Improve the Residential and Small Nonresidential Retail Access Markets. The purpose of this Order was to implement modifications to the PSC’s unofficial Uniform Business Practices (UBP), which utilities include in their tariffs, and to address concerns with respect to the provision of competitive service to residential and small-non-residential customers.
On April 25, 2014, the Commission issued an Order Granting Requests for Rehearing and Issuing A Stay.
On May 2, 2014, Department of Public Service Staff conducted a conference and has distributed the following list of the requirements of the February 25, 2014 Order that are not stayed, as compiled by counsel to some of the ESCOs.
A. Requirements That Are Not Stayed
At this point, the following requirements remain in effect.
A. ESCO quarterly price reporting for residential customers. This is due by July 30, 2014. Staff will provide a template for the reporting.
B. ESCOs must honor prices set forth on the PTC website for residential customers. At least once every thirty days, each ESCO serving residential and/or small non-residential customers must post a price for each product it offers to those customer classes (e.g., fixed-price, variable-price, renewable energy, with each type of value-added service, etc.) on the PTC website. Each ESCO must guarantee to charge new customers no more than the price of the ESCOs posted offers at the time of the customer’s agreement for each product.
C. In all telephonic and in-person DTD interactions with potential residential customers the following disclosure statement will need to be made immediately after any introductory greeting: “My name is ____. I represent [ESCO name]. [ESCO name] can provide you with your electricity and/or natural gas. I do not work for or represent your utility.” This is effective as of May 26, 2014.
D. The representative must provide all consumers contacted by DTD a business card or similar format which includes: the name of the sales agent; the ESCO represented; a contact number at the ESCO that the consumer can use for inquiries, verification and to register a complaint about the sales practices of the agent; and, the date and time of visit. This can be attached to the Bill of Rights. This is effective as of May 26, 2014.
E. Every ESCO must maintain a record of the territories in which DTD is conducted. The ESCO must maintain a list each day of the ZIP Codes in which each of its marketing representatives are conducting DTD. This data should be in a form that can be reported to Staff upon request, and should be retained by the ESCO for a minimum of six months. This is effective as of May 26, 2014.
F. ESCOs shall publish, on all contract renewal notices for residential customers for services with no energy related value-added attributes, a bold message stating that tools to help the customer compare historic and present ESCO prices are available on, or can be accessed from, the Department’s website. This is effective May 26, 2014.
G. When issuing renewal notices, ESCOs must use a standardized format that Staff will develop and make it available to ESCOs on the Department’s website. The renewal notice must be sent in an envelope which states in bold lettering: “IMPORTANT: YOUR [ESCO NAME] CONTRACT RENEWAL OFFER IS ENCLOSED. THIS MAY AFFECT THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR ENERGY SUPPLY.” This is effective May 26, 2014.
H. In the event of a fixed rate contract that renews at a fixed rate, the ESCO must provide the customer with additional notice prior to the issuance of the first bill under the terms of the contract as renewed, but not more than ten days prior to issuance of that bill. This notice shall include the new rate and inform the customer that, consistent with GBL §349-d (6) and the UBP, he or she cannot be charged a termination fee if he or she objects to the renewal within three business days of the customer’s next bill. This is effective as of May 26, 2014.
I. ESCOs must file information on the entities marketing on their behalf as well as how those entities are marketing to customers (door-to-door, telephone sales, multi-level sales, etc.). ESCOs are required initially to file this information within 90 days of the date of the Initial Order, and be updated at least annually. Whenever an ESCO’s marketing plan changes the ESCO must notify Staff. The information to be filed with the Commission includes names, any assumed business name or alias, address, phone numbers and owner(s) or principal(s). This is effective as of May 26, 2014.
For further background, see:
Gerald A. Norlander