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Retail Energy Market Sales Practices To Be Subject Of PUC Rulemaking

In a move that reflects growing concern over door-to-door marketing of retail energy the Pennsylvania PUC is seeking  the input of industry stakeholders with an eye to adopting regulations that will curb perceived abuses.

At its February 10, 20011 Public Meeting, the PUC issued a Proposed Rulemaking Order at Docket L-2010-2208332 to establish regulations that will impose restrictions on the manner in which  retail energy marketers, particularly those who rely on door-to-door sales, interact with the public. The proposed regulations are not expected to deviate significantly from the Interim Guidelines that were issued on November 5, 2010.   Interim Guidelines on Marketing and Sales Practices for Electric Generation Suppliers and Natural Gas Suppliers; Docket No. M-2010-2185981 (Interim Guidelines). The Interim Guidelines addressed such subjects as: requiring marketing representatives to identify themselves and the company on whose behalf they are soliciting at the outset of every contact; prohibiting conduct such as misrepresenting  the terms of a proposal; and requiring that door-to-door representatives not dress in a manner that suggests they work for a utility or another marketer.  Under the Interim Guidelines, the Commission also required that sales representatives wear photo identification issued by the marketer and present customers with business cards clearly identifying on whose behalf they are marketing.  Sales representatives also were required to provide customers with written copies of any offers, terms and conditions, etc., discussed with customers orally during any sales contact and would require the marketing representatives break off any such contact immediately upon customer request.  One other important feature of the Interim Guidelines is the requirement that door-to-door sales representatives leave a customer’s home before the required third party verification process takes place.

Vice-Chairman Tyrone Christy filed a Statement in which he reiterated the position he took regarding the issuance of the Interim Guidelines,  stating that the other Commissioners were incorrect in presuming  that door-to-door sales are permissible for energy markets and suggesting that they should be outlawed altogether

The requesting comments is expected to be issued shortly.

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