Archive for October 2007

ALJ Issues Proposal for Decision in Freedom Enforcement Action

Filed on October 30, 2007 in PUC Docket No. 33138:


“Freedom Group, LLC d/b/a Freedom Power (Freedom or Company) is a retail electric provider (REP) serving customers in Texas. Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas(Staff) alleges that Freedom committed twenty-one violations of the Public Utility Regulatory Act(PURA), TEX. UTIL. CODE A”., and the Commission’s Substantive Rules, and recommended a penalty of $21,050. As set forth herein, after considering the evidence and arguments of the parties, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) finds that Freedom committed the violations and that the requested administrative penalty is appropriate.”

PUCT Enforcement Priorities

Pam Whittington has been heard advising REPs that the new enforcement section will have the following immediate priorities:
1.  Finalize the Telecom USF review (which will last until the middle of next year)
2.  Pursue enforcement actions for reporting violations (failing to file required reports)
3.  Pursue enforcement actions for untimely complaint responses
Clearly, it would appear the new Enforcement Division will focus first on low hanging fruit that are clear cut violations.  A word to the wise.  Make sure your are in compliance with all reporting requirements.

New Head of PUCT Competitive Markets: Retail Markets Section Named

Lauren Damen will take over as the head of the Retail Markets section, effective last Thursday, Oct. 25th.  Matt Troxle, the former head of that section, opted to transfer to the Rate Regulation Division (headed by Darryl Tietjen) during the recent PUCT reorganization. 
As part of the reorg, there is a new Oversight and Enforcement Division, headed by Pam Whittington.  The Oversight and Enforcement Division will be responsible for investigating alleged non-compliance with PUCT rules and orders.  In addition to Pam Whittington, Marshall Adair and Mike Field (formerly an Administrative Law Judge) will staff this division.  The Legal Division will still be responsible for prosecuting enforcement cases.
Also, the Retail and Wholesale Oversight Divisions that were under the old Electric Division have been consolidated with their telecommunications counterparts as part of the new Competitive Markets Division.  Within the Competitive Markets Division are the Retail and Wholesale Sections.
The current PUCT organization chart can be found at:

Nodal Update

As Nodal picks up pace so follows reporting and reporting requirements.  At yesterday’s  Nodal Market Readiness Seminar, Market Readiness and the related scorecard was at the center of discussion specific to access, visibility and reporting.  
Until yesterday ERCOT fully expected that the QSE’s would be reporting to ERCOT the market the readiness of all LSE’s.  And in addition, as a result, the LSE’s weren’t being afforded the opportuntiy to monitor and view the level of readiness of the other MP’s (i.e. QSEs, ERCOT and specific companies within each category) even though every other MP had that administrative privilege.   
After some debate and understanding of the roll of LSEs it became clear to ERCOT that LSEs need to be considered and need the ability to view all of the other categories and the readiness of every other MP, with the exception of their responses / reasonings.  ERCOT reached out yesterday asking for LSEs to get together with ERCOT to discuss what else we wanted and what areas should we self report on (i.e. Interfaces, Settlement, Training).  This is an immediate request.   
I would encourage REPs to consider working together with a goal of scheduling a specific LSE meeting / call with ERCOT Nodal Team.   
Please contact me if you need more information. 


News of Interest…

POSTED: 3:02 pm CDT October 16, 2007; UPDATED: 9:36 am CDT October 17, 2007, KPRC-TV, Channel 2 Houston 
For decades, meter readers read your electric meter with no problems. Now, thousands of Houstonians are getting hit with disconnection notices and big bills. CenterPoint says even though you’ve made no changes at your home, its meter readers suddenly can’t get access to your meter. Investigative reporter Amy Davis sent your complaints and our series to the people with the power to make change — everyone from Public Utility Commission members to state legislators.
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News of Interest…

Vote sets up power struggle; Dallas: Commissioner says PUC will not pay to bury high-voltage lines if toll road isn’t part of Trinity project
The Dallas Morning News October 25, 2007, By BRUCE TOMASO
Because of the Trinity toll road referendum, the Texas Public Utility Commission may reconsider its $12 million pledge to bury high-voltage power lines inside the Trinity River Corridor, a commissioner said this week.  In an e-mail to Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, commission member Barry Smitherman said that the PUC agreed to the deal on April 26 believing that the Trinity River project was going forward, with the community united behind it.

PUCT Staff Seeks Input on Advanced Metering Issues…

Filed by staff today in project 34610…
The staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (commission) is interested in taking comments for Project Number 34610, Implementation Project Relating to Advanced Metering. Interested parties may file comments in response to the following question:
1. Please identify up to five major issues your organization would like to see addressed in the implementation project for each of the following topics:
a. Business to Business Processes related to:
    i. Home Area Network (HAN)
    ii. Web Portal Functionality Prioritization
b. Security
c. Settlement
d. Standardization across ERCOT
e. Customer education
f. Required changes in commission rules resulting from deployment
g. Other
Responses may be filed by submitting 16 copies to the commission’s Filing Clerk, Public Utility Commission of Texas, 1701 North Congress Avenue, P.O. Box 13326, Austin, Texas 78711-3326 no later than Thursday, November 1, 2007. Any reply comments should be filed by November 8,2007.  Questions concerning this notice should be referred to Christine Wright, Retail Markets, Competitive Markets Division at (512) 936-7376, or

PUCT Welcomes Amicus Briefs in Direct Energy Settlement Agreement

As discussed at today’s open meeting, the Commissioners welcome parties filing amicus briefs sharing their thoughts on the Settlement Proposal in front of the Commissioners related to Direct Energy and the renewals violations (docket 34671).   Direct Energy had asked the PUCT to direct the funds that would otherwise be paid by Direct Energy as an administrative penalty, to instead fund a customer education campaign directed at small commercial customers.  Strategic Energy and Fox, Smolen filed comments that supported this alternative approach.  While appreciating the comments filed by Fox, Smolen in the docket, Com. Parsley advised parties wishing to file not to attempt to advise the commission on the specifics of the customer education campaign.  All commissioners appear eager to gauge party interest in this type of approach to the use of “penalty” funds.
I believe this is good for the market and can allow REPs to negotiate such solutions as part of any PUCT enforcement action, which may mitigate the notion that settlements are violations that result in penalties.

Letters to Houston Chronicle…

In response to their stories…

The Houston Chronicle Stories…

The Houston Chronicle recently ran a series of stories on the state of electric deregulation.
Below are links to the stories in case you missed them…
Few Texans Charged Up About Switching Providers: