Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hazel Towers Tenants File Reply to Owner's Request to Dismiss Petition Seeking to Halt Submetering

The Hazel Towers Tenants Association filed a Petition in May, 2009 with the PSC seeking to halt submetering at Hazel Towers, after their complaint filed with the PSC's Office of Consumer Services (OCS) had not been decided. See Hazel Towers Tenants Ask PSC to Act on Submetering Complaints, PULP Network, May 6, 2009. The Commission Secretary issued a Notice inviting comments. More than thirty tenants and City Council member Jimmy Vacca filed comments in support of the Petition. On the last day of the comment period, the owner of Hazel Towers filed its Comments on the Petition. The owners' comments indicate substantial ex parte communications with OCS decision makers which were not shared with HTTA and its counsel.

On August 17, 2009 HTTA, represented by PULP, filed its Reply to the owner's Comments. HTTA argued that
  • A stay of submetering should be granted because multiple violations of the Commission’s prior submetering order which existed when submetering began still have not been corrected,
  • No valid agreements exist between the owner and Hazel Towers tenants for the provision of electric service containing PSC-approved rates, terms and conditions of service,
  • The Commission cannot now retroactively approve unfiled charges, rates, terms and conditions for electric service
  • The process for remediating such violations requires Commission attention due to the appearance of regulatory capture by the regulated industry.
The HTTA papers conclude that
The Commission should reject Nelson Management's effort to paper over the dog's breakfast of its botched and unlawful implementation of submetering, and issue a stay of further charges for submetered service until new tariffs or contracts containing approved rates, terms and conditions are filed and approved.
In response to the owner's contention that the Petition should be dismissed because issues raised in the Petition are being handled by the OCS, HTTA pointed out that the head of the OCS hearing office refuses to consider the issues, and attached a copy of a motion seeking his recusal.

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