Archive for March 2009

HB1822 is moving, and is now in the Senate…

This bill by Rep. Solomons, requires the use of standardized terms on retail electric bills and requires the commission to define the standardized terms. This one may have legs…

Read full text of engrossed house bill….

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/pdf/HB01822E.pdf

State Affairs Meeting Next Week…

Looks like more electricity bills up for hearing…
 

A POLR bill too…

SB 1865

Author:

Ellis

 

 

Last Action:

03/11/2009 S Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the provider of last resort.

 

 

Summary:

Sets a POLR rate as a market rate; prevents requiring a deposit; reimburses POLRs for rates provided below cost.

 

More bills…

Being filed every day…
 

HB 3357

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

 

 

Last Action:

03/11/2009 H Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to mergers and acquisitions in the electric industry

 

 

Summary:

Requires PUCT approval for any power generator purchasing a REP if power generator controls more than 10% of generation.

 

HB 3533

Author:

Davis, Yvonne

 

 

Last Action:

03/11/2009 H Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to surcharges for advanced metering of electric utility services.

 

 

Summary:

Requires surcharge to be itemized on customer’s bill and requires that customer’s only be assessed the surcharge once their advance meter has been installed.

 

HB 3546

Author:

Elkins

 

 

Last Action:

03/11/2009 H Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to a study of the provision of retail electric service and the regulation of components of the electric utilities industry

 

 

Summary:

Requires the PUCT to study price and quality of service in regulated and deregulated areas of the state to determine how to ensure lowest price and highest quality of service is achieved for all; requires PUCT to issue report summarizing findings and presenting recommendations

 

SB 1761

Author:

Watson

 

 

Last Action:

03/11/2009 S Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to retail electric providers protecting customer deposits.

 

 

Summary:

Requires REPs to return deposits, without interest, when they exit the market; requires deposit interest be used to establish a fund to assist low income customers.

 

SB 1762

Author:

Watson

 

 

Last Action:

03/11/2009 S Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to a temporary moratorium for disconnection of electric service for certain customers.

 

 

Summary:

Imposes a summer disconnect moratorium for residential critical care and elderly low income customers; requires entry into a deferred payment plan, and lengthens the DPP time.

 

More bills…

 
Two more for your reading pleasure…
 

HB 3245

Author:

Solomons

 

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to consumer protections within the electricity markets.

 

 

Summary:

A far reaching compilation of many protections already filed in other bills, including a disconnect moratorium.

 

HB 3251

Author:

Miklos

 

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to a requirement that electric utilities and natural gas utilities notify the owner and manager of a multiunit residential property on the disconnection of service of a resident.

 

 

Summary:

Requires electric utilities to notify complex owner and manager prior to disconnecting service to a resident.

 

Bills I missed last week…

Too important to overlook….
 
 

HB 2282

Author:

Thompson

Thompson

 

Last Action:

03/09/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

Caption:

Relating to reregulation of retail electric services.

 

 

Summary:

Re-regulates the competitive market

 

HB 2305

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

Turner, Sylvester

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

Caption:

Relating to retail electric providers protecting customer deposits, establishing a customer deposit fund, and establishing a customer deposit interest fund.

 

 

Summary:

Requires customers deposits to be set aside in a state fund, and returned to customers pursuant to commission directive; interest on deposits will be used to offset surcharges assessed to low income customers for advanced meters.

 

HB 2306

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

Turner, Sylvester

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the use of a customer’s utility bill payment data.

 

 

Summary:

Restricts the ability of REPs to enact a hard disconnect provision.

 

 
 

The Full List of Bills I’m tracking

with their current status….
 

HB 444

Author:

Edwards

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the issuance of estimated customer bills by electric utilities and retail electric providers.

 

 

 

Summary:

Allows REPs to issue an “estimated” bill but allows customer to request a reading and defer payment until bill based on actual reading is produced.  Also prohibits disconnection of service for nonpayment of estimated bill

 

 

HB 491

Author:

Zerwas

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/18/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to allowing customers to opt out of provider of last resort default service.

 

 

 

Summary:

Allows customers to opt out of receiving service from a POLR should that become necessary, which may result in loss of service.  Customers would also be allowed to reinstate service with a POLR.

Mandates that a list of customers who opt-out be provided to REPs

 

 

HB 631

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Scheduled for public hearing on

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the regulation of retail electric providers.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires REPs to comply with PUCT certification and reporting requirements; allows PUCT to investigate financial records of any REP.

 

 

HB 725

Author:

Veasey

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/19/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to utility bill payment protection for elderly or disabled persons.

 

 

 

Summary:

Amends section 182.001 of the Utility Code to allow disabled individuals to request deferred payment plans.  As defined in this section, the word “Utility” means an electric, gas, water, or telephone utility operated by a public or private entity.

 

Sec. 182.005.  CERTAIN UTILITIES NOT AFFECTED.  This subchapter does not apply to a utility that:

(1)  does not assess a late payment charge on a residential customer;

(2)  does not suspend service before the 26th day after the date of the bill for which collection action is taken;

(3)  offers a deferred payment plan that is at least as generous as the plan required by Section 182.002(a-1); and

(4)  is regulated under Title 2.

 

Title 2 is PURA, which regulates all REPs.

 

 

HB 840

Author:

Martinez, “Mando”

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to rates charged by an electric utility or retail electric provider on acquisition by another electric utility or retail electric provider.

 

 

 

Summary:

Mandates that acquiring REP must honor rates in term contracts

 

 

HB 841

Author:

Martinez, “Mando”

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to utility bill payment protection for elderly or disabled persons, or persons with special medical needs.

 

 

 

Summary:

Amends section 39.101 of the utility code to prohibit disconnections for non-payment or late payments for protected classes of customers and mandates establishment of deferred payment plans

 

 

HB 972

Author:

Quintanilla

House Bus. & Ind.

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 H Referred to Business & Industry

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to inclusion on certain advertising documents of the license or certificate of registration number of certain individuals regulated by this state who solicit business in consumers’ homes; providing a civil penalty.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires certificate numbers to be on any and all “leave behind” documents used by door to door sales agents.

 

 

HB 995

Author:

Turner, Chris

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to notice of expiration and price change in retail electric service contracts.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires delivery of a contract expiration notice 60 days before the end of a fixed price contract.

 

 

HB 1053

Author:

Mallory Caraway

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/24/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to a grace period from the statement issue date for payment of services to certain electric utilities and related entities.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires 30 calendar days from date of bill issuance to date of disconnection of service.

 

 

HB 1097

Author:

Vo

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/24/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to contract expiration dates on electric bills

 

 

 

Summary::

Requires retail electric bills to include the contract expiration date on the bill.

 

 

HB 1100

Author:

Vo

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/24/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the date of payment for retail electric services.

 

 

 

Summary:

Sets the payment date as the postmark on the envelope.

 

 

HB 1160

Author:

Geren

House State Affairs

 

 

Last Action:

02/25/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to notice of contract expiration in retail electric service contracts.

 

 

 

Summary:

Sets minimum term of a “fixed price contract” at 6 months; requires delivery by US mail of a contract expiration notice not less than 60 days before contract expiration of a “fixed price contract.”

 

 

HB 1182

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Scheduled for public hearing on

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the administration and purposes of the system benefit fund and the eligibility of customers for benefits under certain programs financed by the system benefit fund and other programs

 

 

 

Summary:

Allows PUCT to spend funds irrespective of separate appropriations authority and reorders the funding priorities.

 

 

HB 1243

Author:

Gallego

 

 

 

Last Action:

02/26/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to net metering for retail electric service customers and compensation for excess electricity generated by a retail electric customer’s on-site generator

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires retail electric providers to compensate retail customers who provide eligible generation and deliver it to the electric grid.

 

 

HB 1519

Author:

Vo

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/02/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the disconnection of electric services to certain customers

 

 

 

Summary:

Prohibits disconnections of residential critical care, elderly low-income and low-income customers from July 1 through September 30 of each year, mandates reconnection of service if customer has been disconnected prior to start of moratorium; prohibits disconnection during moratorium for non-payment of deferred payment plans by residential critical and elderly low-income customers.

 

 

HB 1698

Author:

Martinez, “Mando”

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/03/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to reconstituting the system benefit fund as a trust fund and to uses of the fund.

 

 

 

Summary:

Creates the SBF as a trust fund, mandates audit responsibilities, requires full distribution of proceeds

 

 

HB 1718

Author:

Thibaut

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/03/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to safeguards for certain customers of retail public utilities in the electric power market.

 

 

 

Summary:

Similar to HB 1519

Prohibits disconnections of residential critical care, elderly low-income and low-income customers from July 1 through September 30 of each year, mandates reconnection of service if customer has been disconnected prior to start of moratorium; prohibits disconnection during moratorium for non-payment of deferred payment plans by residential critical and elderly low-income customers.  Establishes DPP terms.

 

 

HB 1797

Author:

Bohac

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to notice of a price change in retail electric service contracts.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires delivery of a contract expiration notice for fixed price contracts not less than one billing cycle before the end of the contract.

 

 

HB 1798

Author:

Bohac

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to information that must be included on certain electric bills.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires bills for variable price products to include the bundled electric rate (exclusive of taxes) for the current and previous billing period, as well as an estimate for the next billing period.  Requires bills to also direct customers to the Power to Choose website for more information.

 

 

HB 1799

Author:

Bohac

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to information that must be included on certain electric bills

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires all bills to contain text directing customers to the Power to Choose website for more information.

 

 

HB 1822

Author:

Solomons

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/10/2009 H Scheduled for public hearing on

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the use of certain terms by certificated telecommunications utilities, retail electric providers, and electric utilities in retail bills.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires the PUCT to develop rules that include a list of defined terms common to the telecommunications and electricity industries and require that applicable terms be labeled uniformly on each retail bill sent to a customer by a certificated telecommunications utility, retail electric provider, or electric utility to facilitate consumer understanding of relevant billing elements.

 

 

HB 1836

Author:

Davis, Yvonne

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the prices a retail electric provider charges certain residential customers.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires that month-to-month contract prices be no higher than fixed price contracts being offered.

 

 

HB 1837

Author:

Davis, Yvonne

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to regulation of electric services.

 

 

 

Summary:

Sets a price cap for retail electric service for REPs; requires the PUCT to establish a mechanism to ensure that REPs are organizationally and financial reliable; requires the commission to establish an vertically integrated utility to offer retail electric service in each area at a regulated rate.

 

 

HB 1900

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/05/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the requirement that electric utilities use standardized written contracts in providing services to customers

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires REPs to use a commission approved contract form

 

 

HB 1904

Author:

Turner, Sylvester

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/05/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to benefits and protections for certain residential electric customers

 

 

 

Summary:

Limits deposit requests to customers who have 2 or more late payments in a calendar year; implements a summer disconnect moratorium of low-income and critical care customers, changes the terms of DPP’s for these customers, exempts prepay providers from  these provisions.

 

 

HB 2052

Author:

Hilderbran

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/09/2009 H Referred to State Affairs

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to electric service reliability measures

 

 

 

Summary:

Would change the criteria for enforcement for failing to meet SAIDI and SAIFI standards

 

 

HB 2345

Author:

Thibaut

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Filed

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the rate charged for electric service by a provider of last resort.

 

 

 

Summary:

Specifies that the POLR rate be the average price for electric service in each area and that the rate may not be adjusted for 60 days.

 

 

HB 2485

Author:

King, Phil

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/04/2009 H Filed

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the inclusion of gas and electric transmission and distribution costs in the cost of goods sold for purposes of the franchise tax.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires inclusion of TDSP costs in the taxable base for the state franchise tax.

 

 

HB 2852

Author:

Farabee

 

 

 

Last Action:

03/09/2009 H Filed

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to a prohibition on retail electric providers including a change of law provision in a contract for retail electric service.

 

 

 

Summary:

Prohibits providers from passing along increased prices resulting from a change of law.

 

 

SB 265

Author:

Hinojosa

Senate B&C;

 

 

Last Action:

02/11/2009 S Referred to Business & Commerce

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to benefits and protections for certain residential electric customers

 

 

 

Summary:

Sets deposit waiver requirements for elderly, and for “good credit”;

Establishes as summer disconnect moratorium for low income customers and ill & disabled customers and requires the offering of a specific deferred payment plan

Requires the offering of a specific deferred payment plan during the summer moratorium months to elderly customers who request assistance

Establishes the SBF as a fund held outside the state treasury

 

 

SB 428

Author:

West, Royce

Senate B&C;

 

 

Last Action:

02/17/2009 S Referred to Business & Commerce

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the requirement that retail electric providers give notice to customers before permanently ceasing to operate.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires REPs to give notice to customers 30 days prior to permanently ceasing to operate; and

Requires REPs to furnish customer contact information to ERCOT on a quarterly basis, and requires ERCOT to maintain a dbase of such information.

 

 

SB 464

Author:

Zaffirini

Senate Finance

 

 

Last Action:

02/17/2009 S Referred to Finance

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to reconstituting the system benefit fund as a trust fund and to uses of the fund.

 

 

 

Summary:

Makes the system benefit fund a trust fund and limits the uses of the fund.

 

 

SB 618

Author:

Shapleigh

Senate B & C

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 S Referred to Business & Commerce

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the use of net metering by certain electric utilities.

 

 

 

Summary:

Requires REPs to offer net metering service.

 

 

SB 630

Author:

Davis, Wendy

Senate B & C

 

 

Companion

HB 725 by Veasey

 

 

 

Last Action:

02/23/2009 S Referred to Business & Commerce

 

 

 

Caption:

Relating to utility bill payment protection for elderly or disabled persons.

 

 

 

Summary:

Amends section 182.001 of the Utility Code to allow disabled individuals to request deferred payment plans.  As defined in this section, the word “Utility” means an electric, gas, water, or telephone utility operated by a public or private entity.

 

Sec. 182.005.  CERTAIN UTILITIES NOT AFFECTED.  This subchapter does not apply to a utility that:

(1)  does not assess a late payment charge on a residential customer;

(2)  does not suspend service before the 26th day after the date of the bill for which collection action is taken; and

(3)  is regulated under Title 2.

 

Title 2 is PURA, which regulates all REPs.

 

SB 1468

Author:

Davis, Wendy

 

 

Last Action:

03/06/2009 S Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to notice of expiration and price change in retail electric service contracts.

 

 

Summary:

Requires provision of a notice 60 days in advance of the expiration of and price changes to a fixed price contract for retail electric service.

 

SB 1492

Author:

Williams

 

 

Last Action:

03/06/2009 S Filed

 

 

Caption:

Relating to the delay of retail electric competition in the areas of the state covered by the Southeastern Electric Reliability Council and to the recovery of certain transmission costs by electric utilities in those areas.

 

 

Summary:

Prevents competition in SERC and prohibits removing utilities from SERC.

 

 

House State Affairs Meeting today…

The House State Affairs Committee will meet today at 2 p.m.  Several bills impacting the retail market are on the agenda as are a host of bills affecting the electric market in general.
 
See the agenda:
 

 

House State Affairs Meeting today…

The House State Affairs Committee will meet today at 2 p.m.  Several bills impacting the retail market are on the agenda as are a host of bills affecting the electric market in general.
 
See the agenda:
 

New Study Finds Texans are Well Protected in Today’s Competitive Retail Electricity Market

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                  CONTACT:

March 4, 2009                                                   Patricia Dolese

Regulatory Compliance Services

512.275.6442, pdolese@your-rcs.com

 

 

Texans are Well Protected in Today’s Competitive Retail Electricity Market

 

Regulatory Compliance Services releases new study about available consumer protections 

 

Austin, Texas – A new study released today by Austin-based Regulatory Compliance Services finds that Texans are well protected in today’s competitive retail electricity market. “Electric Restructuring and Customer Protections” is a detailed study of the protections available to consumers in Texas’ competitive retail electric market. A copy of the study is available at www.your-rcs.com.

 

Since retail electricity competition began in 2001, numerous studies have been released about the benefits of consumer choice, whether electric prices have increased or decreased and if retail electricity competition and consumer choice in Texas are working.

 

“Although there have been these other studies about electric competition in Texas, one area overlooked was a careful analysis of the consumer protections available today in the competitive retail electricity market in Texas and how well these protect consumers,” said Patricia Dolese, founder of Regulatory Compliance Services. “Our new study addresses this issue in detail and concludes that Texans are well protected in today’s competitive retail electricity market.”

 

Following are some of the key conclusions from the study:

 

·         Texas’ Public Utility Regulatory Act §39.101 requires at least the same level of protection in the competitive retail electricity market as was provided by regulated monopoly utilities prior to competition.

 

·         The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has adequate authority under existing law to adopt customer protection rules as necessary to further protect Texans.

 

·         A customer’s power to choose a new provider is a unique and powerful protection.

o        This protection was not available prior to the opening of the competitive retail electric market.

 

·         The competitive retail electricity market is not “de-regulated”; it remains very heavily regulated.

o        Extensive statutory requirements and restrictions under the Public Utility Regulatory Act and other state laws

o        Comprehensive consumer protection and other rules issued and policed by the PUCT

 

·         PUCT rules for the competitive retail electricity market provide many of the same protections that apply to regulated monopoly utilities.[i]

o        Timing for payment due dates and disconnection notices

o        Limits on disconnections on holidays and weekends

o        Limits on disconnections of ill and disabled customers

o        Requirement to offer deferred payment plans

o        Requirements to pay interest on and return deposits

 

·         Some of these PUCT rules provide better protection than provided by regulated monopoly utilities. 

o        Deposit waiver for medically indigent and victims of family violence

o        Budget billing plans

o        Procedures for protecting critical care customers

o        Access to price information

o        Availability of information in Spanish and other languages

 

·         The PUCT has responded quickly to add or change rules in order to make sure Texans stay protected.  The PUCT has adopted or soon will adopt new rules covering:

o        Improved disclosures by retail electric providers concerning pricing and other terms and conditions of service

o        Higher financial and managerial standards for retail electric providers

o        Increased protection of customer deposits

o        Improved provider of last resort (POLR) service to protect customers if their retail electric provider fails

 

·         The PUCT has vigorously enforced its rules since the competitive retail electricity market opened in 2002.

o        46 formal enforcement actions brought

o        $8.5 million in fines assessed

 

·         The PUCT has responded quickly to protect consumers exposed to extreme weather and natural disasters.

o        September 2005: required deposit waivers for victims of Hurricane Katrina

o        Summer 2006: imposed disconnect moratorium due to extreme heat

o        September 2008: imposed disconnect moratorium and prohibited increase fees for emergency reconnections and move-in requests

 

·         Voluntary programs and protections offered by retail electric providers (REPs) have supplemented statutory and regulatory protections.

o        Donations to bill payment assistance funds

o        Low-income deferred payment plans and disconnect restrictions offered to victims of Hurricane Ike

 

# # #

About Regulatory Compliance Services:

Regulatory Compliance Services was founded by Patricia Dolese in 2002. The mission of Regulatory Compliance Services is to help our clients navigate the complex world of retail utility regulation. With specific expertise in customer protection regulation, strategic planning, data management and reporting, and government regulatory affairs, Regulatory Compliance Services is well positioned to provide expert advice to its clients. For more information, visit www.your-rcs.com

 



[i] The PUCT consumer protection rules that apply today to the remaining regulated monopoly utilities are the same as the rules that applied in the areas comprising the competitive retail electricity market before restructuring under S.B. 7.