Regulator Issues Order On Retail Supplier Billing, Directives Unclear; Also Rules On Resettlement
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issued an order on rehearing concerning Duke Energy Ohio's electric security plan which included provisions addressing Duke's billing of retail supplier products and services
However, apparently inconsistent language in the body of PUCO's order versus the ordering paragraphs made it unclear whether retail suppliers' rehearing requests regarding billing were granted.
In its ordering paragraph, PUCO stated, "That, in accordance with paragraph 121, the applications for rehearing of the ESP 3 Order on that issue filed by IGS and RESA, be granted."
However, paragraph 121 did not grant rehearing (and merely summarized Duke's opposition to this specific rehearing request). Furthermore, the following paragraph 122, explicitly denied rehearing on a billing issue.
Specifically, as written, paragraph 122 denied rehearing of the request by certain suppliers that suppliers who choose to opt-out of POR for products with non-commodity services (since purchased receivables only include receivables related to the commodity) still be allowed to place non-commodity charges on the utility bill.
As described by PUCO, "According to IGS and RESA, the Commission erred in not allowing CRES providers that opt out of the POR program from utilizing the utility bill to charge for noncommodities. IGS and RESA assert that part of Duke's rationale for excluding noncommodities from the bill was because the noncommodities would be unfairly included into the POR program. Because the Commission allowed CRES providers to opt out of the POR program, those choosing to do so are, according to IGS and RESA, unjustifiably prevented from including noncommodities. Therefore, they request that those opting out of the POR program should be able to include noncommodities on their utility bill. Similarly, IGS and RESA also submit that CRES provider affiliates that do not provide retail electric service and are not part of the POR program should be able to access the utility bill. Direct Energy notes it supports RESA's arguments.
Paragraph 121 states, "Duke counters that such a scenario would be unfair to CRES providers, confusing for customers, and result in higher costs. Duke asserts CRES providers would be unfairly forced to choose between the POR program and using the utility bill to charge for noncommodities. Further, according to Duke, if all suppliers of noncommodity services gain access to the bill, the ensuing costs to make that feasible would likely need be absorbed by customers."
Paragraph 122 states, "Regarding the potential for CRES providers to opt out of the POR program and, thus, place noncommodities on the utility bill, the Commission finds that the applications for rehearing filed by IGS and RESA on this issue should be denied. We note the Commission has already opened dockets for the review of Chapters 4901:1-10 and 4901:1-21, which govern noncommodity billing by utilities and CRES providers. In the Matter of the Commission's Review of Chapter 4901:1-10 of the Ohio Administrative Code, Case No. 17-1842-EL-ORD; In the Matter of the Commission's Review of Chapter 4901:1-21 of the Ohio Administrative Code, Case No. 17-1843-EL-ORD. In those dockets the rules will be open to comments from all interested parties and subject to review by the Commission. Thus, the Commission finds that, at this time, those dockets are the appropriate venue to address these issues."
Furthermore, there was no apparent other issue in which rehearing was granted, in terms of the body of the order, as sought by IGS and RESA (therefore it is not apparent that the paragraph # in the ordering clause was merely a typo and meant another paragraph # where rehearing was in fact granted). For example, the body of the order also denies rehearing of PUCO's decision to exclude non-commodity services from bill ready utility consolidated billing
PUCO did grant a rehearing request from Direct Energy regarding resettlement
In the ESF 3 Order, the Commission denied Duke's request to revise its tariff to require that, if Duke seeks to pursue settlement with PJM, all suppliers will agree to participate.
Per PUCO's order, Direct Energy disagrees with the Commission's decision to deny Duke's request to require certified suppliers to consent to billing adjustments or resettlements with PJM. Direct Energy avers that the reason Duke would seek resettlement or a billing adjustment is to correct an error. For this reason, CRES providers should not object when Duke pursues such an action. However, PJM requires affirmative consent from all other providers in order for Duke to proceed. Direct Energy conveys that, in a current case, it found it difficult to elicit any responses from other CRES providers. Direct Energy believes requiring others to consent, at least for metering errors, would allow the market to operate fairly.
"Upon reconsideration, the Commission grants Direct Energy's application for rehearing. In Duke's ESP application, it proposed a provision be added to its supplier tariff where, if the Company seeks a billing adjustment or resettlement with PJM, each CRES provider shall consent to the billing adjustment or resettlement. Duke Ex. 13 at Att. DLJ-1 at 22. In the ESP 3 Order, we noted the onerous task of acquiring the required affirmative consent of all other CRES providers in order for Duke to go forward with resettlement. ESP 3 Order at 91. As discussed by Direct Energy, Duke would have no motivation to seek resettlement except to correct an error. Similarly, CRES providers should have no objection to Duke ensuring proper billing. Direct Energy demonstrated that acquiring affirmative consent from numerous parties that are in no way affected by the transaction can be overly burdensome. Accordingly, Direct Energy's application for rehearing should be granted and the provision language originally submitted by Duke should be approved."
PUCO affirmed that a price stability rider (wherein OVEC products are sold into the market) proposed by Duke in the case may be nonbypassable.
Furthermore, PUCO said, "We do not find that the language of R.C 4928.143(B)(2)(d) prevents the Commission from authorizing a non-bypassable generation-related rider. Further, R.C. 4928.143(B)(2)(d) references only 'limitations on customer shopping' and, therefore, does not preclude authorization of a charge constituting a financial limitation on customer shopping, contrary to OCC's assertion..."