Proposed PURA Electricity Supplier Regulations
The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) was all set to hold a public hearing regarding proposed electric supplier marketing rules on February 20. However, to accommodate both consumer groups and the Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) , PURA rescheduled a new hearing date for March 16.
The hearing comes as a result of proposed PURA regulations, detailed in Docket 14-07-20RE01, containing the following three provisions.
- Connecticut retail electricity suppliers must record the entirety of all door-to-door and telemarketing sales
- Sales processes and TPV (Third Party Verification) must disclose Eversource’s and United Illuminating’s default electricity service rates.
- Suppliers are responsible for seeking PURA approval for contract assignments
While these sound like great consumer protections, it’s not clear how they will affect CT’s retail electricity marketers. Nor is it clear how it could affect CT electricity choice. To help all CT energy consumers better understand the impacts, here’s what we know so far and how it could affect your monthly CT electricity bills.
Understand Electric Supplier Choice
According to the PURA draft order, retail suppliers will have to keep records of all sales calls along with door-to-door conversations with potential customers. Electricity suppliers must hold these records for a minimum of three years. This is particularly important since even top-rated companies can make mistakes. So, too, their representatives working for them may not be knowledgeable or honest. PURA believes its new record-keeping rule will hold suppliers accountable.
Compare Electric Supplier Rates
The second draft order provision requires door-to-door and phone-call sales agents disclose the default service rate during sales. That way, customers would know whether a retail plan had a lower cost electricity plan than the standard offer of service (SOS). Likewise, the SOS rates would also be disclosed during TPV (third party verification) services.
When Companies Choose Electric Suppliers
The third provision requires a supplier to notify PURA of contract assignments within 90 days for approval. In the past, a provider could assign customer contracts to another supplier and only give PURA a few days notice. In some cases, customers who were thus re-assigned were sometimes charged a cancellation fee by their original supplier. This provision gives PURA the opportunity to examine and modify any energy contract change to make sure that you don’t end up with an unfair or unscrupulous deal.
Does This Affect CT Energy Choice?
Given that the prosed rules followed hard on last year’s calls to end CT residential electric choice, it’s not surprising that some CT customers think deregulated energy is under attack. Some parties argue that PURA’s new provisions would harm retail electricity suppliers. Conversely, better companies can stand out by limiting abuse from less trusted options. In fact, according to a recent AARP Survey from January this year, only 13% of CT voters aged 50 and older believe that deregulated energy markets should end. However, 71% approved of the deregulated energy market but wanted stronger consumer protections.
PURA Regulations for Consumer Protection
PURA’s proposed rules are all intended to protect CT electricity customers from careless or unscrupulous retail suppliers. However, RESA raises several exceptions about the appropriateness of PURA’s proposed rules. They argue that PURA lacks evidence for the changes. They also maintain that they put extra burden and expense on CT retail suppliers.
To be sure, the coming rule hearing could impact consumer protections in the energy market and what happens to CT electricity choice. Because www.ctenergyratings.com works to help customers stay informed about developments in the CT electricity market, we’ll keep following this story.