Staff sent REPs the email below last Friday denoting their “correct” way of showing average prices for plans that include discounts for auto-pay, e-billing and the like.
It appears, based on their statements, that a product is not a “product” for EFL purposes simply because it requires e-billing or auto payment. Since all customers have the right to request bills via U.S. mail at no charge and retain the right to pay with a check in the mail, staff has construed that to mean that all products must having average pricing that reflects that default offering. As the billing rule says – 25.479(b)(4)- “The customer may be charged a fee or given a discount for non-standard billing in accordance with the terms of service document.” Clearly staff interprets discounts as not meeting the definition of a recurring charge.
So, if you post on PTC, best comply with their interpretation. But what about other websites? I would suggest this does not affect other websites. I disagree with the PUCT as to the notion that a product EFL – whereby the product requires enrollment on e-bill/autopay – does not meet the definition of a recurring charge. I believe it does and therefore the average price calculation should reflect the addition of such discounts on the EFL. I believe the EFL should note that if the customer ceases e-bill/auto pay, the discount (which should be specifically stated/identified) will be removed.
A year and a half ago, we sent an email to all of you who post on the PTC website regarding EFLs listing a discounted average price per kWh in the pricing disclosure section of the EFL that only applies to customers who choose a certain option(s) such as auto pay, electronic billing, etc. As mentioned in that email dated March 20, 2013, the average price per kWh listed in the pricing disclosure section, as well as the rate reflected on the PTC site, should be the non-discounted price.
P.U.C. SUBST. R. 25.475(g)(2)(A) states that a fixed rate product shall provide the total average price for electric service reflecting all recurring charges, excluding state and local sales taxes, and reimbursement for the state misc. gross receipts tax, to the customer. The rule does not include discounts.
A REP may show discounted pricing in the EFL below the non-discounted price for various discount features such as pay, electronic billing, etc. However, the price reflected at the top of the price disclosure chart, as well as the price reflected on the PTC, should be the non-discounted price. The rule does not forbid a REP from having a plan(s) that require the customer enroll in auto-pay, paperless billing, etc. and disclosing a lower price than plans that don’t require those features.
For those EFLs that are listing a discounted average price per kWh in the pricing disclosure section of the EFL that only applies to customers who choose a certain option(s), please make the necessary revisions by COB October 24, 2014. If the revisions are not completed and uploaded onto the PTC site by COB October 24, 2014, any EFLs not in compliance will be removed from the PTC site and the matter may be referred to the Oversight & Enforcement Division.
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Information and Education
Public Utility Commission of Texas