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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 20. Public Utilities and Telecommunications
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission
Chapter 311. Interim Rules Governing Electric and Natural Gas Retail Access Pilot Programs
1/23/2020

20VAC5-311-30. Local Distribution Companies.

A. Each local distribution company shall comply with the following provisions with respect to its relationship with competitive service providers:

1. The local distribution company shall provide service, information and products to all competitive service providers licensed in Virginia on terms and conditions as set forth in this chapter, as provided in applicable tariffs, and as approved by the State Corporation Commission as part of a pilot program.

2. The local distribution company shall not give undue preference to an affiliated competitive service provider over the interests of any other competitive service provider related to the provision of electric transmission, distribution, generation, or ancillary services, or natural gas supply or capacity. For purposes of this subdivision, "undue preference" means a preference that is reasonably likely to affect adversely the development of effective competition within the Commonwealth.

3. The local distribution company shall provide information related to the transmission, distribution or provision of electricity, ancillary services, or natural gas supply or capacity to an affiliated competitive service provider only if it makes such information available simultaneously, through an electronic bulletin board or similar means of public dissemination, to all other competitive service providers licensed to conduct business in Virginia. This provision shall not apply to daily operational data, information provided in response to inquiries regarding the applicability of tariffs and terms and conditions of service, or similar data provided by the local distribution company to any competitive service provider in the ordinary course of conducting business. Nothing in this provision shall require the local distribution company to disseminate to all competitive service providers information requested and deemed competitively sensitive by a competitive service provider and supplied by the local distribution company.

4. The local distribution company shall, upon request by a competitive service provider, provide such competitive service provider with the addresses of eligible pilot customers on a nondiscriminatory basis consistent with the local distribution company's pilot tariff as approved by the State Corporation Commission. No other customer information about eligible pilot customers shall be provided to competitive service providers unless the customer affirmatively authorizes disclosure or unless the information to be disclosed is already in the public domain. This provision, however, shall not restrict the disclosure of credit and payment information as currently permitted by applicable federal and state statutes.

5. The local distribution company shall not accept an enrollment request from a competitive service provider to switch a customer if that customer's account is subject to a pending disconnect notice from the local distribution company.

6. In the event the local distribution company is notified by a competitive service provider that the competitive service provider will terminate service to a customer, the local distribution company shall, normally within two business days, respond to the competitive service provider by any means specified by the VAEDT that will acknowledge (i) receipt of the competitive service provider's notice, and (ii) the date that the competitive service provider's service to the customer is scheduled to terminate.

7. Joint advertising and marketing shall be prohibited between the local distribution company and any competitive service provider unless made available to all competitive service providers upon the same price, terms, and conditions.

8. The local distribution company shall not condition the provision of any services on the purchase of any other service or product from it or any of its affiliates.

9. The local distribution company shall operate independently of any affiliated competitive service provider and shall observe the following requirements with respect to any competitive energy service offered by such affiliated competitive service provider in the local distribution company's certificated service territory:

a. Not later than the commencement of its pilot program, the local distribution company shall develop and implement internal controls to ensure that it and its employees that are engaged in the (i) merchant operations, transmission, or reliability functions of the electric generation or natural gas supply systems, or (ii) customer service, sales, marketing, accounting or billing functions, do not provide information to an affiliated competitive service provider or to entities that provide similar functions for or on behalf of such an affiliated competitive service provider as would give such affiliated competitive service provider an undue advantage over nonaffiliated competitive service providers. For purposes of this subdivision, "undue advantage" means an advantage that is reasonably likely to affect adversely the development of effective competition within the Commonwealth.

b. An affiliated local distribution company shall file with the State Corporation Commission, a listing and description of all internal controls required in subdivision a above, not later than 30 days prior to its implementation or within 10 days subsequent to any modification of such controls.

c. The local distribution company shall document each occasion that an employee of its affiliated competitive service provider becomes one of its employees and each occasion that one of its employees becomes an employee of its affiliated competitive service provider. Upon staff's request, such information shall be filed with the State Corporation Commission that identifies each such occasion. Such information shall include a listing of each employee transferred and a brief description of each associated position and responsibility.

10. With respect to affiliate transactions, the local distribution company shall abide by the following:

a. The local distribution company shall be compensated at the greater of fully distributed cost or market price for all nontariffed services, facilities, and products provided to an affiliated competitive service provider. An affiliated competitive service provider shall be compensated at the lower of fully distributed cost or market price for all nontariffed services, facilities, and products provided to the local distribution company. If market price data are unavailable, nontariffed services, facilities and products shall be compensated at fully distributed cost and the local distribution company shall document its efforts to determine market price data and its basis for concluding that such price data are unavailable. Notification of a determination of the unavailability of market price data shall be included with the report required in subdivision b below.

b. The local distribution company shall file semi-annually for the duration of the pilot program, with the State Corporation Commission, a report that shall, at a minimum, include the amount and description of each type of nontariffed service provided to or by an affiliated competitive service provider; accounts debited or credited; and the compensation basis used, i.e., market price or fully distributed cost. The local distribution company shall maintain the following documentation for each agreement and arrangement where such services are provided to or by an affiliated competitive service provider and make such documentation available to staff upon request: (i) component costs (i.e., direct or indirect labor, fringe benefits, travel or housing, materials, supplies, indirect miscellaneous expenses, equipment or facilities charges, and overhead); (ii) profit component; and (iii) comparable market values, with supporting documentation.

11. The local distribution company shall not:

a. Suggest that the services provided by the local distribution company are of any different quality when either electricity, natural gas, or both is purchased from a particular competitive service provider; or

b. Suggest that the competitive energy services provided by a competitive service provider are being provided by a local distribution company rather than the competitive service provider.

12. The local distribution company may require reasonable financial security from the competitive service provider to financially safeguard the local distribution company and its customers from losses or additional costs incurred due to the nonperformance of the competitive service provider. Such financial security may include a letter of credit, a deposit in an escrow account, a prepayment arrangement, or other arrangements that may be mutually agreed upon by the local distribution company and the competitive service provider. The amount of such financial security shall be commensurate with the level of risk assumed by the local distribution company, as determined by the parameters described in the local distribution company's pilot program or applicable pilot tariff as approved by the State Corporation Commission. Such security shall be used to offset any losses or additional costs incurred, due to the nonperformance of the competitive service provider, including the cost of replacement energy supplied by the local distribution company. Disagreements with respect to financial security shall be subject to the dispute resolution procedures established pursuant to subdivision 13 of this subsection.

13. The local distribution company shall establish, and file for State Corporation Commission approval, dispute resolution procedures to address complaints alleging violations of, or disputes arising under, the provisions of this section. The local distribution company shall make such filing no later than 60 days prior to the commencement of the pilot program.

14. The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prohibit the local distribution company, in emergency situations, from taking actions it is otherwise authorized to take that are necessary to ensure public safety and reliability of the distribution system. The State Corporation Commission, upon a claim of inappropriate action or its own motion, may investigate and take such corrective actions as may be appropriate.

15. The local distribution company shall, to the maximum extent feasible, adhere to standard practices for exchanging data and information in an electronic medium as may be specified by the VAEDT and as specified in the local distribution company's pilot program or applicable pilot tariff as approved by the State Corporation Commission. The local distribution company shall cooperate with the VAEDT to comply on a continuing basis with the development and implementation of EDI requirements.

B. Each local distribution company shall comply with the following provisions with respect to its relationship with its retail customers:

1. The local distribution company shall provide pilot program information and facilitate enrollment of pilot customers pursuant to pilot programs approved by the State Corporation Commission.

2. The local distribution company shall continue to allow customers to participate in its pilot program by selecting a competitive service provider until the maximum participation limits established and defined in its retail access pilot program, as approved by the State Corporation Commission, have been met.

3. The local distribution company shall provide, pursuant to the prices, terms, and conditions of its tariffs approved by the State Corporation Commission, service to all customers that do not select a competitive service provider and to customers that chose a competitive service provider but whose service is terminated at the behest of the customer or by the competitive service provider for any reason during the pilot program period.

4. Upon receipt of an enrollment request from a competitive service provider, pursuant to 20VAC5-311-20 A 3 b, the local distribution company shall, normally within one business day of receipt of such notice, mail notification to the customer advising of the enrollment request, the approximate date that the competitive service provider's service commences, and the caption and statement as to cancellation required by 20VAC5-311-20 A 2 (v). Such notice shall be deemed to have been received by the customer three calendar days after the date of mailing. The customer shall have 10 calendar days from the date the customer receives such notification to advise the local distribution company or the competitive service provider that it wishes to cancel such enrollment. In the event the local distribution company receives notice of a cancellation request from the competitive service provider pursuant to the provisions of 20VAC5-311-20 A 3 c, the local distribution company shall, normally within one business day, terminate the enrollment process. In the event the local distribution company receives a cancellation request from the customer, the local distribution company shall, normally within one business day, notify the competitive service provider of the customer's cancellation and terminate the enrollment process. Additionally, the local distribution company shall send to the State Corporation Commission a monthly report of all such cancellation requests, which report shall include the approximate date of the enrollment; the identity of the competitive service provider; the name and address of the customer that cancelled such enrollment; and a brief statement of the reasons, if any, given by the customer for the cancellation.

5. In the event that the local distribution company is notified by a competitive service provider that a customer's service will be terminated, the local distribution company, in addition to responding to the competitive service provider as required by subdivision A 6 of this section, shall send written notification to the customer, normally within five business days, that it was so informed and describe the customer's opportunity to select a new supplier. The local distribution company shall inform the affected customer that if the customer does not select another competitive service provider, the local distribution company will provide the customer's generation or natural gas supply.

6. Pilot program customer deposits held or collected by local distribution companies shall be for only those services provided by the local distribution company to customers participating in the pilot program. Any deposit held by the local distribution company in excess of this amount shall be promptly refunded to the customer. The local distribution company may, upon a customer's return to service provided by the local distribution company, collect the generation portion of a customer deposit as permitted by the local distribution company's tariffs and 20VAC5-10-20.

7. Changes to terms and conditions concerning customer disconnection for nonpayment shall be set forth in each local distribution company's pilot tariff approved by the State Corporation Commission.

Statutory Authority

§ 12.1-13 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 16, Issue 20, eff. May 26, 2000.

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