Relates to energy services company marketing standards; enacts provisions restricting telemarketing to customers who enroll in an opt-out registry.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to marketing practices of energy services companies
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To establish telemarketing standards for energy services companies, establish penalties for violating such standards, and create an ESCO marketing opt-out registry.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one of establishes the legislative intent of this bill.
Section two of the bill:
*Creates definitions for various terms used in the bill.
*Establishes telemarketing practices and requires an energy services company (ESCO) or an ESCO marketing representative to: o remove a customer from an ESCO marketing database upon request; o require a marketing representative to provide their name, the name of the ESCO
on whose behalf they are calling for, and the purpose of the call; *indicate that contracting with an ESCO to supply energy services will not affect a customer's existing relationship with their utility;
*transfer a customer to a representative who speaks the customer's primary language or terminate the call;
*use independent third party verification, as approved by the Public Service Commission, to enroll a customer; and
*prohibit ESCO marketing representatives from asserting that an ESCO is acting on behalf of a utility.
*Requires utilities to establish an ESCO marketing opt-out registry and to notify customers annually about how they can enroll in the registry.
*Authorizes the Public Service Commission to access a civil penalty which would not exceed one thousand dollars per violation against any ESCO that knowingly fails or neglects to comply with the provisions of this section. This section also requires the Public Service Commission to provide notice to an ESCO and the option to request hearing, when the Commission has reason to believe an ESCO has violated a provision of this section.
* Deems that nothing in this act will limit the Public Service Commission or Long Island Power Authority from regulating ESCOs as they deem necessary and appropriate.
Section three of the bill establishes the effective date.
On October 18, 2012, the Public Service Commission began a proceeding to assess certain aspects of the residential and small nonresidential retail energy or energy service companies markets in New York (Case 12-M-0476). Out of the proceeding, serious concerns about the marketing behavior of energy services companies (ESCOs) have emerged. In the assessment of the Commission's staff, some ESCOs are engaging in marketing behavior that creates and relies on customer confusion. This bill would enact into law telemarketing standards for ESCOs that would protect customers from predatory marketing behavior. By establishing an ESCO marketing opt-out registry, customers would now have the opportunity to opt-out of telemarketing calls in manner similar to how the Do-Not-Call telemarketing registry works. The bill would also empower the Public Service Commission to better protect consumers by enabling them to assess a financial penalty when an ESCO or its marketing representative engages in marketing behavior that preys on consumers.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
This is a new bill.
This act shall take effect 90 days after enactment into law and immediately upon enactment the Public Service Commission is authorized to establish any regulations needed to implement this act.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7811 IN SENATE June 11, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. SAVINO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Energy and Telecommuni- cations AN ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to marketing prac- tices of energy services companies THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. The legislature finds that on March 14, 1996, the public service commission authorized energy services companies (ESCOs) to compete with traditional utilities to supply consumers with electricity or natural gas. Since then, approximately 85 ESCOs have become certified to provide electricity in New York state and over 100 ESCOs have become certified to provide natural gas. The legislature further finds that on October 19, 2012, the public service commission instituted a new proceeding (12-M-0476) to examine aspects of the resi- dential and small non-residential retail energy markets in the state, during the course of which proceeding, the department of public service found that some large scale non-residential customers were benefiting from competition, while some small non-residential and residential customers were not benefiting and paying more for energy than they typi- cally would pay with their utility. The legislature further finds that the proceeding discovered "major weaknesses in the residential and small non-residential retail energy markets due to the lack of accurate, tran- sparent and useful information and marketing behavior that creates and too often relies on customer confusion." Therefore, to protect custom- ers, the legislature finds it necessary to establish enhanced penalties to end abusive practices. S 2. The public service law is amended by adding a new article 4-C to read as follows: ARTICLE 4-C ENERGY SERVICE COMPANIES SECTION 89-Q. ENERGY SERVICES COMPANY MARKETING STANDARDS. S 89-Q. ENERGY SERVICES COMPANY MARKETING STANDARDS. 1. FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS SECTION:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD11695-06-4 S. 7811 2
(A) "ENERGY SERVICES COMPANY" OR "ESCO," SHALL MEAN ANY ENTITY ELIGI- BLE TO SELL ENERGY SERVICES TO END USE CUSTOMERS USING THE TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM OF A UTILITY CORPORATION. (B) "DISTRIBUTION UTILITY" SHALL MEAN A GAS OR ELECTRIC CORPORATION OWNING, OPERATING OR MANAGING ELECTRIC OR GAS FACILITIES FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISTRIBUTING GAS OR ELECTRICITY TO END USERS. (C) "ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE" SHALL MEAN ANY EMPLOYEE OR AGENT OF AN ESCO THAT ENGAGES IN ANY MARKETING ACTIVITY INTENDED TO ENROLL, CONTRACT OR SELL ENERGY SERVICES TO END USE CUSTOMERS WITH SUCH ESCO. (D) "INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY VERIFICATION" SHALL MEAN THE CONFIRMATION OF A CUSTOMER'S AGREEMENT TO TAKE SERVICE FROM AN ESCO, BY AN ENTITY THAT IS INDEPENDENT OF THE ESCO. (E) "ESCO MARKETING OPT-OUT REGISTRY" SHALL MEAN A LIST OF RESIDENTIAL AND SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS THAT DO NOT WANT TO BE CALLED BY AN ESCO OR ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE. 2. THE COMMISSION SHALL DIRECT EACH ENERGY SERVICES COMPANY AND ANY ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE SELLING OR OFFERING FOR SALE ENERGY SERVICES TO RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS TO: (A) REMOVE A RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER'S NAME, TELEPHONE, AND CONTACT INFORMATION FROM ANY ESCO MARKETING DATABASE UPON SUCH RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER'S REQUEST; (B) PROVIDE TO A POTENTIAL RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER: THE NAME OF THE ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE ON THE CALL, THE NAME OF THE ESCO ON WHOSE BEHALF THE CALL IS BEING MADE AND THE PURPOSE OF SUCH CALL AND, UPON REQUEST, THE ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE'S IDENTIFICATION NUMBER; (C) INDICATE THAT THE CONTRACT FOR PROVISION OF ENERGY SERVICES BY AN ESCO WILL NOT AFFECT THE RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER'S EXISTING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DISTRIBUTION UTILITY SERVICE OTHER THAN THAT SUCH RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER WILL NO LONGER BE PURCHASING ELECTRICITY AND/OR NATURAL GAS FROM THE DISTRIBUTION UTIL- ITY; (D) IMMEDIATELY TRANSFER A RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER TO A REPRESENTATIVE WHO SPEAKS THE RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RE- SIDENTIAL CUSTOMER'S PRIMARY LANGUAGE OR TERMINATE THE CALL; (E) USE INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY VERIFICATION, AS APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION, PRIOR TO ENROLLING A RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER; AND (F) PROHIBIT ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES FROM ASSERTING THAT AN ESCO IS ACTING ON BEHALF OF A DISTRIBUTION UTILITY. 3. (A) THE COMMISSION SHALL REQUIRE EACH DISTRIBUTION UTILITY TO ESTABLISH AN ESCO MARKETING OPT-OUT REGISTRY. EACH DISTRIBUTION UTILITY SHALL PROVIDE AN ANNUAL NOTICE TO ITS RESIDENTIAL AND SMALL NON-RESIDEN- TIAL CUSTOMERS ON HOW SUCH CUSTOMERS MAY ACCESS AND ENROLL ONTO ITS ESCO MARKETING OPT-OUT REGISTRY. (B) NO ESCO OR ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE SHALL MARKET, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO TELEPHONE CALLS, TO A RESIDENTIAL OR SMALL NON-RESI- DENTIAL CUSTOMERS THAT IS ON A DISTRIBUTION UTILITY'S ESCO MARKETING OPT-OUT REGISTRY. 4. (A) THE COMMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED THE AUTHORITY, SUBJECT TO PARAGRAPH (B) OF THIS SUBDIVISION, TO ASSESS A CIVIL PENALTY NOT TO EXCEED ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS AGAINST ANY ESCO WHEN SUCH ESCO OR ITS ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES KNOWINGLY FAILS OR NEGLECTS TO COMPLY WITH ANY PROVISION OF THIS SECTION OR ANY REGULATION OR ORDER OF THE COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING OR ENFORCING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. IN THE CASE OFS. 7811 3
A CONTINUING VIOLATION, THE COMMISSION IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO DEEM EACH DAY A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT OFFENSE. (B) WHENEVER THE COMMISSION HAS REASON TO BELIEVE THAT AN ESCO SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO IMPOSITION OF A CIVIL PENALTY OR PENALTIES AS SET FORTH IN THIS SUBDIVISION, THE COMMISSION SHALL NOTIFY SUCH ESCO. SUCH NOTICE SHALL INCLUDE, BUT SHALL NOT BE LIMITED TO (I) THE DATE AND A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS AND NATURE OF EACH ACT OR FAILURE TO ACT FOR WHICH SUCH PENALTY IS PROPOSED; (II) THE AMOUNT OF EACH PENALTY THAT THE COMMISSION PROPOSES TO ASSESS; AND (III) THE OPTION TO REQUEST A HEARING TO DEMONSTRATE WHY THE PROPOSED PENALTY OR PENALTIES SHOULD NOT BE ASSESSED AGAINST SUCH ESCO. 5. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEEMED TO LIMIT ANY AUTHORITY OF THE COMMISSION OR THE LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY TO LIMIT, SUSPEND OR REVOKE THE ELIGIBILITY OF AN ENERGY SERVICES COMPANY OR ESCO MARKETING REPRESENTATIVE TO SELL, OFFER, OR MARKET ENERGY SERVICES FOR VIOLATION OF ANY PROVISION OF LAW, RULE, REGULATION OR POLICY ENFORCEABLE BY THE COMMISSION OR THE LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY. 6. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL LIMIT THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMMISSION OR THE LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY TO ADOPT ADDITIONAL ORDERS, GUIDE- LINES, PRACTICES, POLICIES, RULES OR REGULATIONS RELATING TO THE MARKET- ING PRACTICES OF ENERGY SERVICES COMPANIES TO RESIDENTIAL, SMALL NON-RE- SIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL CUSTOMERS, WHETHER IN PERSON (INCLUDING DOOR TO DOOR), OR BY MAIL, TELEPHONE OR OTHER ELECTRONIC MEANS, THAT ARE NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. S 3. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law; provided however that the public service commission is authorized and directed to take any and all actions, including but not limited to the promulgation of any orders, guidelines, practices, policies, rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this act on or before such effective date.