Information for Current ESCO Customers
1. What are the benefits and costs of requiring that utilities develop and make available historic bill calculators through utility websites and/or smart phones to enable ESCO customers to compare their actual charges to what they would have paid if they were a full-service utility customer? How should such tools be designed so that they are easy to use, factually oriented, and produce accurate and useful information for ESCO customers?
2. What are the benefits and costs of requiring that utilities include a line item on ESCO customer bills that identifies what the customer would have paid had supply been purchased from the utility? Precisely what information should be published on the bill so that it is most useful to customers?
3. What are the benefits and costs of requiring that utilities explain to payment-troubled ESCO customers contacting the utility, or provide to such customers in a subsequent mailing, what the customer would have paid had the energy supply been purchased from the utility, and the difference between that amount and what they were actually billed for energy supplied by the ESCO? What information should utilities provide to existing low-income and payment-troubled ESCO customers to assist them in making informed decisions and how should utilities provide that information?
Data for Potential Customers
4. What are the reasons why the Commission should, or should not, collect monthly data on prices charged by ESCOs to residential and small non-residential customers for all or some of their products? How would Commission publication of all or part of this data assist customers and/or impact retail competition? What level of data aggregation would be sufficient to adequately address the need to maintain the confidentiality of customer-specific data.
5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of requiring ESCOs to honor rates and terms posted on the Commission’s “Power to Choose” website? What are the benefits and costs of requiring that ESCOs post all of their offerings on that website? What other enhancements to the site should be considered to increase its usefulness to consumers?
ESCO Referral Programs
6. What is the basis for continuing the existing ESCO Referral Programs in the service territories of Con Edison, Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, and National Grid (upstate)? If these programs should continue, should they be modified, and how long should they be maintained?
Low Income Customers
7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing customers participating in any state or federal energy assistance program, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program, or in any utility-sponsored affordability program, to obtain commodity service from an ESCO? How does the analysis change if the ESCO guarantees a price no higher than that charged by the utility?
8. What are the legal and policy reasons for permitting or prohibiting door-to-door marketing of electricity and/or natural gas to residential and/or small non-residential customers?
9. What are the reasons why the Commission should continue to permit termination fees in sales contracts made between ESCOs and residential and small non-residential customers through the door-to-door marketing channel? Are there circumstances under which termination fees for such contracts would be appropriate (e.g., fixed-rate contracts), and what should an ESCO be required to demonstrate to be able to include termination fees for door-to-door marketing in its sales contract?
10. Are there other conditions or requirements that should be imposed on door-to-door marketing by ESCOs, such as a requirement that such marketers begin an interaction with a potential customer with a disclosure statement? An example of a possible disclosure statement is: “My name is ____. I represent ____. ___ can provide you with your electricity and/or natural gas. I do not work foror represent your utility.” How should such a requirement be enforced?
11. Should the Commission have the authority to preclude or limit an ESCO’s door-to-door marketing in the future in specific circumstances?
12. What are the advantages and disadvantages of modifying the Uniform Business Practices to require ESCOs to obtain affirmative consent from customers for contract renewals involving a change in price? What are the advantages and disadvantages of requiring ESCOs to obtain affirmative consent from customers for all contract renewals?
13. What are the advantages and disadvantages of requiring ESCOs to provide their rate methodology and related billing calculations to customers with variable rate contracts? What are the advantages and disadvantages of requiring all variable rate methodologies to be based on specified formulas tied to publicly available information, with the formulas varying by ESCO? If this is to be required, when and how should ESCOs provide this information?
Purchase of Receivables
14. What would be the impact of requiring utilities to purchase receivables with recourse and thereby have ESCOs assume whole or partial responsibility for the uncollectibles of their customers? Should this be a requirement? What would be the impact of discontinuing POR without recourse for some ESCOs and how would those ESCOs be identified?
15. What other modifications to existing retail market programs or practices, including modifications to the UBPs, should be considered, and why?Interested parties may submit initial comments on the above questions no later than December 27, 2012. Reply comments may be submitted no later than January 10, 2013.
The Notice was issued with an accompanying Order setting out reasons why the Commission is seeking more public input on its ESCO policies.
For further background, see
PSC to Look at ESCO Service Issues, October 24, 2012
ALJs Rule that Differences Between ESCO Charges and Niagara Mohawk Charges are Not Trade Secrets Requiring Confidential Treatment, September 7, 2012
PULP Files Testimony in Niagara Mohawk Cases Urging Improved Low Income Rates, Tools to Compare ESCO Bills, September 6, 2012
ESCO Claims Locking in its 28% Higher Rate is "Smart" and "Practical", Feb. 11, 2010
Utilities Ask PSC to Keep Data on ESCOs Secret, September 25, 2009
Value of ESCO Service Questioned, September 21, 2009
ESCO Advertises 9.75% Tax Savings on Delivery Service
ESCOs Cost More -- A Familiar Experience.
PULP Files Comments on Regulation of ESCO Sales Practices, Feb. 4, 2008
SEPTEMBER 28, 2006
Think Twice Before Switching Utilities, Sept. 28, 2006