Supplier Consolidated Billing Revisited
Back in 2018 I wrote an article explaining all the reasons why supplier consolidated billing (“SBC”) was a good idea. Then, this morning, I saw an article in Energy Choice Matters, and it provided yet another reason why SBC should be the law. In the ECM story, the recently announced strategic initiatives of FirstEnergy Corp. (“FE”) were discussed, including an initiative to expand its offerings of products and services other than commodity to its captive electric distribution customers. The FE press release extolled that these are “products and services that customers want” including energy efficient lighting, smart home products, maintenance, warranty, and home services. These are all products and services that electric generation suppliers (“EGS”) and natural gas suppliers (“NGS”) provide to their customers and similarly wish to bill along with the commodity charges on a single bill. The discussion makes it clear that FE believes that the billing relationship with customers is a key means of providing value to customers in the form of desirable products and services conveniently billed along with energy while providing incremental income opportunities for the provider of that commodity. The article reveals another data point and strengthens the argument for SBC on grounds that not allowing it demonstrates discrimination and lack of fairness.
It is ironic that it is FE that is making this announcement, because FE presently is involved in litigation over this very issue, i.e., that billing for its own products and services on the utility bill while refusing to bill for suppliers serving customers on its system, for the exact same products and services, is discriminatory. That matter is presently before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and should be decided soon. Unfortunately, resolution of that case is not likely to result in supplier consolidated billing being permitted, but at least could provide more fairness, via access to the utility bill for non-commodity products and services, which is the second-best choice.