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Electricity Maine Asks PUC to Waive Contract Renewal Conditions

December 14, 2015 By Cheryl Kaften

Electricity Maine – a competitive retail supplier licensed to sell electricity directly to homes and businesses served by the utilities, Central Maine Power and Emera Maine – filed with the Maine Public Utility Commission on November 30 (2015-00355) in hopes of circumventing current regulations related to contract renewals.

Specifically, the retailer is requesting a waiver of Chapter 305 of the state’s licensing requirements for competitive electricity providers that would enable the company to offer month-to-month “Holdover” renewals at the same price that the customer has been paying until such time that the customer chooses to formally sign on for a Renewal Term contract.

This request for waiver involves two classes of Electricity Maine’s customers: (1) a small number of customers who are automatically renewing from an initial Supply Contract directly to a Renewal Term at this time; and (2) customers who automatically renew from a Holdover Term to a Renewal Term.

“For these customers, the 30-60 day notice requirement set forth in Section 4(B)(6)(a) of Chapter 305 is currently creating significant difficulty for Electricity Maine,” the provider said in its filing.

The problem for Electricity Maine is that “the [schedule] of the Commission’s announcement of rates for the next Standard Offer period, along with the time Electricity Maine’s suppliers needed to secure fixed-rate quotes for the Renewal Term,” does not allow enough time for the company to quote rates for those current customers for whom renewal is imminent.

“Similarly,” the retailer stated, “there is insufficient time to provide the required notices to Holdover Term customers prior to the start of the Renewal Term because the Renewal Term is now scheduled to begin in less than 30 days.”

Accordingly, Electricity Maine requests a limited waiver to allow it to send, outside of the required 30-60 days period – but as close to it as reasonably possible– the Contract Renewal Notices to the two classes of affected customers.

As part of its waiver request, Electricity Maine commits that if any of the affected customers request to opt-out from either the Holdover Term or the Renewal Term beyond the 10-day required rescission period, that customer will not be charged a Cost Recovery Fee pursuant to Electricity Maine’s Terms of Service.

Section 6 of Chapter 305 provides that the commission may waive any of the requirements of Chapter 305 upon a showing of good cause, so long as such waiver is not inconsistent with any statutory requirement or the intent and purpose of Chapter 305 and Title 35-A of the Maine Revised Statutes.

According to Electricity Maine, “The request for waiver is not contrary to any statutory directive and [would help us to] protect customers by allowing [our company] to offer the most competitive, fixed-rate pricing while also ensuring that customers receive the longest notice of renewal that is functionally possible.”

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