Thursday, March 26, 2015

Proposed PUC Rules On Natural Gas Supplier Disclosure Out For Comment

The Public Utility Commission Thursday issued for comment a proposed rulemaking that would provide natural gas shopping customers with greater detail in natural gas supplier (NGS) disclosure statements and more timely information on “contract renewal” and “change in terms” notices. The proposed rulemaking follows a regulation implemented last year for electric generation suppliers.
The Commission voted 5-0 to seek comments on a proposed rulemaking that would require NGSs to display key contractual terms and conditions more clearly for customers on both fixed- and variable-rate products, provide historical pricing data on their products and prominently mark customer notices prior to contract expiration or changes in terms.
The changes are designed to provide additional information and greater protections for residential and small business customers choosing a competitive supplier for their natural gas service.
“We have seen success with a rulemaking implemented last year to ensure electric suppliers are transparent and are consistent in educating their customers on contract details, potential price fluctuations and changes in contract terms,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “After examining the benefits of that rulemaking to electric shopping customers, we determined it is not only beneficial, but necessary to apply similar standards to natural gas suppliers.”
Written comments shall be submitted within 30 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Further instructions on filing comments will be contained in the Final Order.
The proposed regulations include:
— More contractual information on conditions of price variability, including whether there are limits on variability;
— A clear statement of the price per unit for the first billing cycle of natural gas generation;
— Customer access to historical pricing information;
— Separate mailings for either fixed-term contracts that are expiring, or any changes to terms of service;
— A separate NGS contract summary along with the full disclosure statement to ensure NGSs highlight key terms and conditions in a uniform, consistent manner;
— New requirements for contract “Initial Notices” and customer “Options Notice” prior to the expiration of a contract or change in terms;
— A renewed emphasis on highlighting changes in pricing or any terms and conditions – including a fixed rate becoming a month-to-month rate that includes a 30-day notice of any price change; and
— Prominent marking on front of the “Options Notice” envelope clearly stating that it contains important information regarding the expiration or changes in terms of a customer’s electric supply contract.

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