By Grace S. Power, Esq.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) announced at its monthly meeting on Monday, October 31, 2016, that it would be proposing rules concerning Third Party Suppliers (“TPS”) to amend current regulations. These rules mark the first significant changes for suppliers since the Polar Vortex, including implementing reduced switching times and improved Government Energy Aggregation Programs (GEAPs). The proposed rules will also implement legislation signed into law in December 2015 (A3851/S2018), requiring third party suppliers to provide contract summaries, with specific information and formatting requirements, to customers. The proposal is anticipated to be published in the New Jersey Register in mid-November, at which time interested parties will have a 60-day comment period to respond.
Faster Switching Times and Customer Notice
Most notably, New Jersey switching times will improve for both electric and gas customers. For electric customers that request to switch suppliers at least 13 days prior to their next scheduled meter read date, the switch will occur on the next meter read date. For gas customers, such request must be received at least 10 calendar days prior to the next meter read date.
The proposal will also require TPSs transferring customers to another supplier to provide customers with at least 30 days’ notice prior to the switch and to true-up budget billing accounts at least once every twelve months.
Residential and Small Commercial Contract Summaries
In September 2014, the Board ordered all TPSs to provide residential customers with a contract summary upon new service or a renewal. In December 2015, legislation was signed into law to require that TPSs shall not provide service without providing a contract summary; the proposed amendments would codify into regulations the 2014 Order and the 2015 law.
Government Energy Aggregation Programs
Staff also recommended amendments to Government Energy Aggregation Program (“GEAP”) rules, developed with stakeholder input and Staff experience with programs’ current operation. According to Staff, the amended regulations would reduce unintended customer drops, improve the accuracy of customer information and notification, ensure that customers are provided with sufficient information about GEAPs, ensure consumer protection, and clarify the way new customers are added, among other changes.
We will provide you with further information concerning the rule proposal as soon as it is published in the New Jersey Register. For more information, contact Grace Strom Power, Esq., Partner in the Feller Law Group Princeton office at 908-510-4130 or at email@example.com.