Workgroup Recommends New CAP Customers Returned To Default Service

Recommends Prohibition On Early Termination Fees For Such Customers

March 21, 2024

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Copyright 2010-23 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

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The Data Sharing Subgroup of the universal service working group (USWG) at the Pennsylvania PUC has recommended that, in cases of automatic customer enrollment into a customer assistance program (CAP), any shopping customers should be automatically enrolled in CAP and dropped to default service upon CAP enrollment, with customers provided a notice that they may opt-out of CAP

The Data Sharing Subgroup did not reach consensus on whether auto-enrollment of customers into CAP (which would automatically move customers to CAP based on LIHEAP and/or other data without the customer applying for CAP status) should be permissive or mandatory and believes that further consideration may be needed regarding the issue of cost and to work to identify a standardized methodology for projecting anticipated costs.

However, to the extent auto-enrollment into CAP does occur, the Data Sharing Subgroup recommends that the PUC:

(1) prohibit suppliers from charging an early termination or cancellation fee for customers seeking enrollment in CAP; and

(2) require public utilities to include information in an opt-out notice, as detailed in a work group report and noted below, that customers will be returned to default service if they do not "opt out" of auto-enrollment in CAP.

For new CAP participants, the Data Sharing Subgroup recommends that the PUC issue guidance permitting auto-enrollment of LIHEAP recipients that were not previously enrolled in CAP based on LIHEAP data

The Data Sharing Subgroup recommends that the PUC require a public utility to send customers who have not previously participated in its CAP an opt-out notice within 10 days of receiving LIHEAP data from DHS. In addition to the note about the customer being returned to default service upon being enrolled in CAP, the opt-out notice should include:

• An indication that the customer is eligible for CAP.

• An explanation of the benefits and program rules of CAP.

• Notice that, absent the customer opting out, the customer will be auto enrolled in CAP on XX date (30 days from receipt of the data).

• A requirement that a public utility send a welcome letter following auto-enrollment to explain the rights, obligations, and benefits of CAP.

As previously reported, some Pennsylvania utilities already automatically return customers to default service under CAP enrollment, while others direct the customer to cancel their supplier service themselves in order to complete CAP enrollment.

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