On May 22, 2014, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (“IRRC”) approved by a 5-0 vote the final-omitted regulations adopted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) which will accelerate the process for switching to an electric generation supplier (“EGS”). The final-omitted regulations will allow consumers to switch to EGSs within three days. This vote followed extensive questioning by the IRRC Commissioners.
Current regulations require electric distribution companies (“EDCs”) to mail a confirmation letter to the customer within a day after receiving notice of a customer’s selection from an electric generation supplier (“EGS”) and then make the change at the beginning of the first feasible billing period following a 10-day waiting period.
The final-omitted regulations will preserve the confirmation letter but eliminate the waiting period. Also, rather than waiting until the next meter read, the EDC will be required to make the change within 3 business days of receipt of the enrollment transaction from the EGS. The final-omitted regulations provide that if the EDC does not have advanced or automated metering capability, it will be required to obtain an actual meter read, use an estimated meter read or use a customer-provided meter read.
Another topic addressed by the final-omitted regulations is the situation when a customer contacts the EDC to return to default service. Currently, the regulations require the EDC to refer the customer to the EGS. Under the final-omitted regulations, the EDC will be required to notify the customer that there may be a cancellation fee, and if the customer still wants to return, the EDC will be required to enroll the customer in default service, send a letter noting the change and make the change within 3 days.
In promulgating the final-omitted regulations on April 3, 2014, the PUC cited the need to revise its current regulations so that customers have a better understanding of the terms and conditions of their contracts with EGSs. Using the final-omitted approach, which departs from the traditional notice and comment procedures, the PUC referred to the record-breaking wave of informal and formal complaints filed by consumers concerning electric price increases due to the Polar Vortex in January 2014.
The PUC may now proceed to have the final-omitted regulations published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Upon publication, the final-omitted regulations will go into effect and must be implemented within six months.