Subchapter A. CUSTOMER INFORMATION
54.3. Standards and pricing practices for retail electricity service.
54.4. Bill format for residential and small business customers.
54.5. Disclosure statement for residential and small business customers.
54.6. Request for information about generation supply.
54.7. Marketing/sales activities.
54.8. Privacy of customer information.
54.9. Complaint handling process.
54.10. Notice of contract expiration or change in terms for residential and small business customers.
The provisions of this Subchapter A issued under the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § § 501, 504506, 1301 and 1501; and the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act, 66 Pa.C.S. § 2807, unless otherwise noted.
The provisions of this Subchapter A adopted August 7, 1998, effective August 8, 1998, 28 Pa.B. 3780, unless otherwise noted.
§ 54.1. Purpose.
(a) The purpose of this subchapter is to require that electricity providers enable customers to make informed choices regarding the purchase of electricity services offered by providing adequate and accurate customer information. Information shall be provided to customers in an understandable format that enables customers to compare prices and services on a uniform basis.
(b) As to the scope of this subchapter, this section and § § 54.254.3 apply to all customers, including large commercial and industrial customers. Sections 54.454.9 apply only to residential and small business customers, as the term is defined in § 54.2 (relating to definitions).
§ 54.2. Definitions.
The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
Aggregator or market aggregatorAn entity, licensed by the Commission, that purchases electric energy and takes title to electric energy as an intermediary for sale to retail customers.
Basic servicesServices necessary for the physical delivery of electricity service, including generation, transmission and distribution. Transition charges, although temporary in scope, are basic service charges (See the definition of transition charges in this section).
Broker or marketerAn entity, licensed by the Commission, that acts as an agent or intermediary in the sale and purchase of electric energy but does not take title to electric energy.
CTCCompetitive Transition ChargeA nonbypassable charge applied to the bill of every customer accessing the transmission or distribution network which (charge) is designed to recover an electric utilitys transition or stranded costs as determined by the Commission in sections 2804 and 2808 of the code (relating to standards for restructuring of electric industry; and competitive transition charge).
CodeThe Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § § 1013316.
ConsumerA retail electric customer or potential customer of retail electricity service.
Consumer contractThe written disclosure statement of the terms of service between a customer and an EGS which satisfies the definition of consumer contract in section 3 of the Plain Language Consumer Contract Act (73 P. S. § 2203).
CustomerA retail electric customer.
Customer informationWritten, oral or electronic communications used by electricity providers to communicate to consumers prices and terms of service.
Distribution chargesBasic service charges for delivering electricity over a distribution system to the home or business from the transmission system. These charges include basic service under § 56.15(4) (relating to billing information) and universal service, as applicable.
EDCElectric Distribution CompanyThe public utility providing facilities for the jurisdictional transmission and distribution of electricity to retail customers, except building or facility owners or operators that manage the internal distribution system serving the building or facility and that supply electric power and other related electric power services to occupants of the building or facility.
EGSElectric Generation Supplier or Supplier
(i) A person or corporation, including a municipal corporation, which provides service outside its municipal limits except to the extent provided prior to the effective date of this chapter. (Editors Note: The reference to this chapter refers to the code.) This includes brokers and marketers, aggregators or other entities that sell to end-use customers electricity or related services utilizing the jurisdictional transmission or distribution facilities of an electric distribution company.
(ii) The term excludes building or facility owner/operators that manage the internal distribution system for the building or facility and that supply electric power and other related power services to occupants of the building or facility.
(iii) The term also excludes electric cooperative corporations except as provided in 15 Pa.C.S. Chapter 74 (relating to generation choice for customers of electric cooperatives).
Electricity providersThe term refers collectively to the EDC, EGS, electricity supplier, marketer, aggregator or broker, as well as any third party acting on behalf of these entities.
Generation chargesBasic service charges for generation supply to retail customers. This excludes charges for transmission or other charges related to electric service.
Historical billing dataThe minimum of 13 months of data as recorded by the EDC, which contains dollar amount billed. This data is kWh consumption on-peak and off-peak or at some other prescribed interval of consumption and associated cost and, if applicable, at demand levels at the intervals recorded and associated costs of those demand levels.
ITCIntangible Transition ChargeCharges authorized by the Commission to be imposed on all customer bills and collected, through a nonbypassable mechanism by the electric utility or its successor or by any other entity which provides electric service to a person that was a customer of an electric utility located within the certificated territory of the electric utility on January 1, 1997, or that, after January 1, 1997, became a customer of electric services within the territory and is still located within the territory, to recover qualified transition expenses pursuant to a qualified rate order, in a manner that does not shift interclass or intraclass costs and maintains consistency with the allocation methodology for utility production plant accepted by the Commission in the electric utilitys most recent base rate proceeding.
Marketer or BrokerAn entity, licensed by the Commission, that acts as an agent or intermediary in the sale and purchase of electric energy and does not take title to the electric energy.
Nonbasic servicesOptional recurring services which are distinctly separate and clearly not required for the physical delivery of electric service.
Renewable resourceThe term includes technologies such as solar photovoltaic energy, solar thermal energy, wind power, low-head hydropower, geothermal energy, landfill or other biomass-based methane gas, mine-based methane gas, energy from waste and sustainable biomass energy.
Small business customerThe term refers to a person, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, association or other business entity that receives electric service under a small commercial, small industrial or small business rate classification, and whose maximum registered peak load was less than 25 kW within the last 12 months.
Transition chargesBasic service charges for costs defined as transition or stranded costs, comprised of a CTC and an ITC, designed to recover an EDCs transition or stranded costs as authorized by the Commission.
Transition or stranded costsAn electric utilitys known and measurable net electric generation-related costs, determined on a net present value basis over the life of the asset or liability as part of its restructuring plan, which traditionally would be recoverable under a regulated environment but which may not be recoverable in a competitive electric generation market and which the Commission determines will remain following mitigation by the electric utility. The term includes those items enumerated in the definition of transition or stranded costs, in section 2803 of the code (relating to definitions).
Transmission chargesBasic service charges for the cost of transporting electricity over high voltage wires from the generator to the distribution system of an EDC.
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose); 52 Pa. Code § 54.3 (relating to standards and pricing practices for retail electricity service).
§ 54.3. Standards and pricing practices for retail electricity service.
In furnishing retail electricity service, EDCs and EGSs or any entity that otherwise provides retail electricity service information to customers, shall comply with the following:
(1) Use common and consistent terminology in customer communications, including marketing, billing and disclosure statements.
(i) Use the term EDC as described in § 54.2 (relating to definitions) as a standard term.
(ii) Use the terms as defined in the Commissions Consumers Dictionary for Electric Competition (Dictionary), maintained on file in the Commissions Office of Communications. EDCs shall provide this dictionary upon customer request. The Common Electric Competition Terms as described in subparagraph (iii) shall indicate the phone number and address to request the dictionary.
(iii) EDCs shall distribute the Common Electric Competition Terms, as part of its consumer education program.
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose).
§ 54.4. Bill format for residential and small business customers.
(a) EGS prices billed must reflect the marketed prices and the agreed upon prices in the disclosure statement.
(b) The following requirements apply only to the extent to which an entity has responsibility for billing customers, to the extent that the charges are applicable. The default service provider will be considered to be an EGS for the purposes of this section. Duplication of billing for the same or identical charges by both the EDC and EGS is not permitted.
(1) EDC charges must appear separately from EGS charges.
(2) Charges for basic services must appear before charges for nonbasic services, and appear distinctly separate.
(3) Customer bills must contain the following charges, if these charges are applicable, and these charges must appear in a distinct section of the bill. The designation or label of each charge as either a basic charge or nonbasic charge appears in parenthesis following the name of the charge. This label of either basic or nonbasic is not required to accompany the name of the charge on the bill.
(i) Generation charges (basic).
(A) Generation charges shall be presented in a standard pricing unit for electricity in actual dollars or cents per kWh, actual average dollars or cents per kWh, kW or other Commission-approved standard pricing unit.
(B) Generation charges shall appear first among the basic charges with one exception. EDCs may place the customer charge first among the basic charges.
(ii) Transmission charges (basic).
(iii) Distribution charges (basic).
(iv) Customer charge or basic charge (charge for basic service in § 56.15 (relating to billing information)) (basic).
(v) Advanced metering charges (basic).
(vi) Transition charges (basic).
(vii) Taxes (comply with § 56.15) (basic).
(viii) Late payment charges (basic).
(ix) Security deposit (basic).
(x) Reconnection fee (basic).
(xi) Itemization of nonbasic charges (nonbasic).
(xii) Overall billing total.
(4) The entity reading the meter for billing purposes shall provide the following electricity use data figures:
(i) The total annual electricity use for the past 12 months in kWh, including the current billing cycle. This is a single cumulative number.
(ii) The average monthly electricity use for the past 12 months in kWh, including the current billing cycle. This is a single cumulative number.
(5) The requirements of § 56.15 shall be incorporated in customer bills to the extent that they apply.
(6) Definitions for the following charges and terms are required in a customers bill, if they appear as billing items, as contained in Common Electric Competition Terms and shall be in a distinctly separate section of the bill:
(i) Generation charges.
(ii) Transmission charges.
(iii) Distribution charges.
(iv) Customer charge/basic charge (charge for basic service in § 56.15).
(v) Advanced metering, if applicable.
(vi) Transition charges.
(7) General Information is the required title for customer contact information in a customers bill.
(i) The name, address and telephone number for the EGS and EDC shall be included.
(ii) Both EDC and EGS information in subparagraph (i) is required on all customer bills with the billing entitys information first.
(8) When a customer chooses the option to receive a separate bill for generation supply, the EDC shall include in a customers bill the following information where the EGS charges would normally appear:
(i) The EGSs name.
(ii) A statement that the customers EGS is responsible for the billing of EGS charges.
(9) When a customer chooses the option to receive a single bill from the EDC, the EDC shall include in the customers bill the name of the EGS where the EGS charges appear.
(10) For customers who have chosen electric generation services from a competitive supplier, the customers bill shall include the following statements which may appear together in a paragraph:
(i) Generation prices and charges are set by the electric generation supplier you have chosen.
(ii) The Public Utility Commission regulates distribution prices and services.
(iii) The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates transmission prices and services.
(c) The billing entity shall provide samples of customer bills to the Commission for review.
The provisions of this § 54.4 amended September 14, 2007, effective September 15, 2007, 37 Pa.B. 4996. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (247125) to (247126).
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose); 52 Pa. Code § 56.15 (relating to billing information); and 52 Pa. Code § 56.262 (relating to billing information).
§ 54.5. Disclosure statement for residential and small business customers.
(a) The agreed upon prices in the disclosure statement must reflect the marketed prices and the billed prices.
(b) The EGS shall provide the customer written disclosure of the terms of service at no charge whenever:
(1) The customer requests that an EGS initiate service.
(2) The EGS proposes to change the terms of service.
(3) Service commences from a default service provider.
(c) The contracts terms of service shall be disclosed, including the following terms and conditions, if applicable:
(1) Generation charges shall be disclosed according to the actual prices.
(2) The variable pricing statement must include:
(i) Conditions of variability (state on what basis prices will vary).
(ii) Limits on price variability:
(A) If there is a limit on price variability, such as a specific price cap, a maximum percentage increase in price between billing cycles or minimum/maximum charges per kilowatt-hour for electricity during the term of the contract, the EGS shall clearly explain the applicable limits.
(B) If there is not a limit on price variability, the EGS shall clearly and conspicuously state that there is not a limit on how much the price may change from one billing cycle to the next.
(iii) The price to be charged, per kilowatt-hour, for the first billing cycle of generation service.
(3) An itemization of basic and nonbasic charges distinctly separate and clearly labeled.
(4) The length of the agreement, which includes:
(i) The starting date.
(ii) The expiration date, if applicable.
(5) An explanation of sign-up bonuses, add-ons, limited time offers, other sales promotions and exclusions, if applicable.
(6) An explanation of prices, terms and conditions for special services, including advanced metering deployment, if applicable.
(7) The cancellation provisions, if applicable.
(8) The renewal provisions, if applicable.
(9) The name and telephone number of the default service provider.
(10) An explanation of limits on price variability, penalties, fees or exceptions, printed in type size larger than the type size appearing in the terms of service.
(11) Customer contact information that includes the name of the EDC and EGS, and the EGSs address, telephone number, Commission license number and Internet address, if available. The EGSs information must appear first and be prominent.
(12) A statement that directs a customer to the Commission if the customer is not satisfied after discussing the terms of service with the EGS.
(13) The name and telephone number for universal service program information.
(14) For contracts with variable pricing, the EGS must provide:
(i) A telephone number and Internet address at which a customer may obtain the previous 24 months average monthly billed prices for that customers rate class and EDC service territory. If an EGS has not been providing generation service in a rate class and EDC service territory for 24 months, the EGS shall provide the average monthly billed prices for the months available to date.
(ii) In plain language, a statement that historical pricing is not indicative of present or future pricing.
(d) Customers shall be provided a 3-day right of rescission period following receipt of the disclosure statement.
(1) The 3-day right of rescission is 3 business days.
(2) The 3-day right of rescission begins when the customer receives the written disclosure.
(3) The customer may cancel in writing, orally or electronically, if available.
(4) Waivers of the 3-day right of rescission are not permitted.
(e) Definitions for generation charges and transmission charges, if applicable, are required and shall be defined in accordance with the Common Electric Competition Terms. Definitions for each of the nonbasic services, if applicable, are required. The definition section of the bill must be distinctly separate.
(f) The EGS shall include in the customers disclosure statement the following statements which may appear together in a paragraph:
(1) Generation prices and charges are set by the electric generation supplier you have chosen.
(2) The Public Utility Commission regulates distribution prices and services.
(3) The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates transmission prices and services.
(g) Disclosure statements must include the following customer notification: If you have a fixed term contract approaching the expiration date, or whenever we propose to change the terms of service in any type of contract, you will receive two separate written notifications that precede either the expiration date or the effective date of the proposed changes. These notifications will explain your options going forward.
(h) If the default service provider changes, the new default service provider shall notify customers of that change, and provide customers with its name, address, telephone number and Internet address, if available.
(i) The EGS shall provide, with the disclosure statement, a separate EGS contract summary in a format provided by the Commission.
The provisions of this § 54.5 amended September 14, 2007, effective September 15, 2007, 37 Pa.B. 4996; amended June 13, 2014, effective June 14, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 3522. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (367173) to (367174).
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose); 52 Pa. Code § 54.10 (relating to notice of contract expiration or change in terms for residential and small business customers); 52 Pa. Code § 57.173 (relating to customer contacts the EGS to request a change in electric supply service); 52 Pa. Code § 75.13 (relating to general provisions); 52 Pa. Code § 111.2 (relating to definitions); 52 Pa. Code § 111.7 (relating to customer authorization to transfer account; transaction; verification; documentation); 52 Pa. Code § 111.11 (relating to receipt of disclosure statement and right to rescind transaction); and 52 Pa. Code § 111.12 (relating to consumer protection).
§ 54.6. Request for information about generation supply.
(a) EGSs shall respond to reasonable requests made by consumers for information concerning generation energy sources.
(1) EGSs shall respond by informing consumers that this information is included in the annual licensing report and that this report exists at the Commission. Providers shall explain that the report is available to them and offer to provide it, if requested.
(2) The default service provider shall file at the Commission the annual licensing report as required by the Commissions licensing regulations in this chapter and shall otherwise comply with paragraph (1).
(3) EGSs operating for less than 1 year may respond to customer inquiries about generation energy sources by furnishing the information as described in subsection (b).
(b) Verification of the anticipated generation energy source, of the identifiable resources (if and when they have been claimed) and the fact that energy characteristics were not sold more than once, shall be conducted by an independent auditor at the end of each calendar year and contained in the annual report to the Commission, relating to information disclosure requirements in subsection (a) and the licensing regulations in this chapter.
(c) Whenever EGSs market their generation as having special characteristics, such as produced in Pennsylvania or environmentally friendly and the like, providers shall have information available to substantiate their claims.
(1) Disclosure of generation energy sources shall be identifiable, which is defined as electricity transactions which are traceable to specific generation sources by any auditable contract trail or equivalent, such as a tradable commodity system, that provides verification that the electricity source claimed has been sold only once to a retail customer. If generation energy sources are not identifiable, the provider shall disclose this fact.
(d) Electricity providers, whether they make distinguishing claims or not, shall include in their general communications with consumers that electricity is the product of a mix of generation energy sources, that is delivered over a system of wires.
(e) Electricity providers shall respond to reasonable consumer requests for energy efficiency information, by indicating that these materials are available upon request from the Commission or the EDC.
(f) The use of general, unsubstantiated and unqualified claims of environmental benefits, such as green and environmentally friendly, is prohibited. The Commission supports the application of the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (see 16 CFR 260.1260.8 (relating to guides for the use of environmental marketing claims)), in the enforcement of this section and the following specific principles:
(1) Section 260.6(a) (relating to general principles) which states that qualifications or disclosure should be clear, prominent, and of relative type size and proximity to the claim being qualified. In addition, contrary assertions which undercut the qualifications should not appear.
(2) Section 260.6(c) which states that environmental claims should not overstate the environmental attribute or benefit, expressly or by implication.
(3) Section 260.6(d) which suggests that marketing materials which make comparative claims should clearly state the basis for the comparison, be able to be substantiated, and be accurate at the time they are made.
(4) Section 260.7(a) (relating to environmental marketing claims) which labels unqualified claims of environmental benefit as deceptive.
(5) Section 260.7(f) which addresses claims regarding source reduction, such as reduced toxicity or reductions of other environmentally negative effects.
(g) Residential and small business customers are entitled to receive at no charge and at least once a year, historical billing data from whomever reads the meter for billing purposes.
(1) The EDC is only obligated to provide information that is readily available in its billing system.
(2) The historical billing data shall be conveyed in terms of kWh, and kW, as applicable, and associated charges for the current billing period and for the year preceding the current billing period.
(3) The historical billing data will be updated with each billing cycle.
(h) Electricity providers shall notify consumers either in advertising materials, disclosure statements or bills that information on generation energy sources, energy efficiency, environmental impacts or historical billing data is available upon request.
The provisions of this § 54.6 amended September 14, 2007, effective September 15, 2007, 37 Pa.B. 4996. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (324546) and (247129) to (247130).
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose).
§ 54.7. Marketing/sales activities.
(a) Advertised prices shall reflect prices in disclosure statements and billed prices.
(b) Marketing materials that offer terms of service for acceptance by consumers shall include prices, as follows:
(1) If using a fixed price, the EGS shall show in a table the price per kWh for an average customer using 500, 1,000 or 2,000 kWh of electricity.
(2) If using a variable price mechanism, the EGS shall factor in all costs associated with the rate charged to the customer, and show the average price per kWh for usages of 500, 1,000 and 2,000 kWh of electricity in a table format.
(3) The EGS shall note the effective date of the prices shown in the table provided under paragraph (1) or (2).
(c) Advertising materials targeted for residential and small business sales shall be made available upon request of the Commission in the event of a formal or informal complaint or investigation.
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose).
§ 54.8. Privacy of customer information.
(a) An EDC or EGS may not release private customer information to a third party unless the customer has been notified of the intent and has been given a convenient method of notifying the entity of the customers desire to restrict the release of the private information. Specifically, a customer may restrict the release of either the following:
(1) The customers telephone number.
(2) The customers historical billing data.
(b) Customers shall be permitted to restrict information as specified in subsection (a) by returning a signed form, orally or electronically.
(c) Nothing in this section prohibits the EGS and EDC from performing their mandatory obligations to provide electricity service as specified in the disclosure statement and in the code.
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose).
§ 54.9. Complaint handling process.
EDCs and EGSs shall disclose to consumers the following with respect to the rights of consumers in the handling and resolution of complaints:
(1) Residential and small business customers shall directly contact the party responsible for the service in question as an initial step for complaint and problem resolution. If the customer mistakenly contacts the wrong entity, the customer shall be promptly referred to the appropriate contact. In the event of a power outage, the customer shall be directed to the EDC.
(2) Complaints that pertain to Chapter 56 (relating to standards and billing practices for residential utility service) matters shall be handled and resolved in accordance with the applicable standards in Chapter 56.
(3) EDCs and EGSs shall give the Commission access to disclosure statements, billing and other customer information resources for compliance reviews as deemed necessary by the Commission. When complaints arise and are brought before the Commission for resolution, the obligation of the EGS shall be extended to the provision of pricing information.
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 54.1 (relating to purpose); and 52 Pa. Code § 111.13 (relating to customer complaints).
§ 54.10. Notice of contract expiration or change in terms for residential and small business customers.
An EGS shall provide the following notices to customers prior to the expiration of a fixed term contract or prior to a change in contract terms:
(1) An initial notice shall be provided to each affected customer 45 to 60 days prior to the expiration date of the fixed term contract or the effective date of the proposed change in terms. For customers who have elected to receive electronic communications from the EGS, the notice shall be transmitted in the manner chosen by the customer. The initial notice must include:
(i) A general description of the proposed change in terms of service.
(ii) The date a change shall be effective or when the fixed term contract is to expire.
(iii) An explanation of why a change in contract terms is necessary.
(iv) A statement indicating when a follow-up options notice shall be issued with details regarding the proposed change.
(v) A statement explaining that the options notice must discuss the customers options to the proposed change in terms of service or expiring fixed term contract.
(vi) A statement indicating whether the existing fixed term contract has a cancellation fee, and an explanation of the fee amount and how to avoid the fee, if possible, including notice of the date when the customer can choose a different product from the customers existing EGS, choose an alternative EGS or return to default service.
(2) An options notice shall be provided, by first class mail, to each affected customer at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of the fixed term contract or the effective date of the proposed change in terms. The options notice must include:
(i) A statement advising the customer of the specific changes being proposed by the EGS and informing the customer of how to exercise the customers options, including the customers ability to accept the proposed changes, to choose another product offering from the customers existing EGS, to select another EGS or to return to default service.
(ii) Information regarding new pricing or renewal pricing including the price to be charged, per kilowatt-hour, for the first billing cycle of generation service:
(A) If a customer fails to respond to the options notice and is converted to a month-to-month contract, the EGS shall provide a disclosure statement under § 54.5 (relating to disclosure statement for residential and small business customers).
(I) Notice of a subsequent change in pricing shall be provided to the customer at least 30 days prior to the new price being charged.
(II) For customers who have elected to receive electronic communications from the EGS, notice of the change in pricing shall be transmitted in the manner chosen by the customer. For all other customers, notice shall be provided by first class mail.
(B) If a customer fails to respond to the options notice and is entered into a new fixed term contract, the EGS shall provide the fixed, per kilowatt-hour price to be charged and term length of the contract.
(iii) The telephone numbers and Internet addresses, as applicable, for the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Commission and PaPowerSwitch.com.
(iv) Language clearly visible on the front of the envelope used to provide the options notice stating that it contains important information regarding the expiration or changes in terms of the customers electric supply contract.
(3) When a customer fails to respond to either notice, the following apply:
(i) A fixed term contract shall be converted to one of the following:
(A) A month-to-month contract, either at the same terms and conditions or at revised terms and conditions, as long as the contract does not contain cancellation fees.
(B) Another fixed term contract, as long as the new contract includes a customer-initiated cancellation provision that allows the customer to cancel at any time, for any reason, and does not contain cancellation fees.
(ii) The converted contracts shall remain in place until the customer chooses one of the following options:
(A) Select another product offering from the existing EGS.
(B) Enroll with another EGS.
(C) Return to the default service provider.
The provisions of this § 54.10 adopted June 13, 2014, effective June 14, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 3522.
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