Group raps utilities’ fee plan
State commission asked to turn down plan to charge customers for data
State Public Service Commission members are being asked to turn down a request by electric utilities to charge up to $2.70 per customer for information sought by communities when establishing bulk power buying programs.
Citizens for Local Power spokeswoman Jennifer Metzger on Friday said the state order this week did give utilities some concessions on the amount of detail that needs to be provided about customers. However, the modifications of an April order did not cover costs for information when a Community Choice Aggregation program is being developed.
“Obviously the utilities are going to be involved in a CCA,” she said. “They have data that the CCAs need ... about energy demand.”
In a request to have the commission establish percustomer fees for providing data, Central Hudson is seeking $1.35 for an initial list and $1 for monthly updates; Orange and Rockland as well as Con Edison wants $2.70 and $1.50; and Niagra Mohawk is seeking $1.08 for both initial list and monthly updates.
“They are all extraordinarily inflated and unreasonably
high,” Metzger said. “It has no direct bearing on the actual cost to the utilities on providing that data.”
Central Hudson spokesman John Maserjian said the proposed fees are based in calculated costs of time and personnel to developed various lists from the utility’s 308,000 electric customers.
“They are based on the actual cost for separating that information for a municipality or geographic area and place them in a format the aggregation can use and then delivering that information to the aggregation,” he said.
Under the order that was modified during a commission meeting Thursday,
utilities will be able to withhold customer phone numbers. Because the ruling requires all customers in a program area be included in community aggregation the lack of phone numbers will reduce the ways they can be contacted about their rights to opt out.
“I do think (not having phone numbers) is problematic,” Metzger said. “I think that community choice aggregation should have the data that the utilities have. They are serving customers.”
Citizens for Local Power, in papers filed with the commission, contends that the cost to the utilities is the same regardless of the number of records being sought.
“The CCA order requires companies to provide very basic data that is already in their systems and whether they produce a data set of 500 records or 5,000 records should make little difference in terms of cost,” the group wrote.
The commission order also allows utilities to withhold information on the economic status of a customer.
“The economic status was a little bit complicated but I think it’s kind of irrelevant at this point,” Metzger said. “The original order contained what we found to be an odd provision that allow CCAs to exclude customers that were on utility assistance programs.”