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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 20. Public Utilities and Telecommunications
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission
Chapter 312. Rules Governing Retail Access to Competitive Energy Services
1/19/2020

20VAC5-312-90. Billing and Payment.

A. A competitive service provider may offer separate billing service or consolidated billing service, where either the local distribution company or the competitive service provider would be the billing party, to prospective customers pursuant to the local distribution company's tariff approved by the State Corporation Commission. Where a competitive service provider would be the billing party, prior to an initial offering of consolidated billing service to customers within the service territory of each local distribution company, and after certification as required by 20VAC5-312-20 K, the competitive service provider shall abide by the following requirements:

1. The competitive service provider shall provide written notice, at least 30 days in advance, to the local distribution company and to the State Corporation Commission's Division of Energy Regulation. The written notification to the Division of Energy Regulation shall include:

a. The anticipated date of the initial consolidated billing service offering in each local distribution company service territory in which the service will be offered.

b. Any changes in information provided by the competitive service provider in its original license application pursuant to 20VAC5-312-40 A that have not been reported to the State Corporation Commission pursuant to 20VAC5-312-20 P and 20VAC5-312-20 Q.

c. The expected maximum market penetration for the provision of consolidated billing service to electricity customers during the following 12 months, including the estimated number of customers and associated annual consumption by customer type or load profile classification.

d. A representation that the electric competitive service provider has undertaken the necessary preliminary coordination efforts with tax officials of each potentially affected locality regarding the competitive service provider's obligation to collect and remit local consumption taxes and local utility consumer taxes.

2. The competitive service provider shall establish such financial security as the State Corporation Commission may require for such competitive service provider's estimated liability associated with the collection and remittance of state, local, and special regulatory consumption taxes and local utility consumer taxes.

B. Subject to the exemptions applicable to municipal electric utilities set forth in § 56-581 C of the Code of Virginia, a competitive service provider shall coordinate the provision of the customer-selected billing service with the local distribution company by any means specified by VAEDT or as otherwise provided by the local distribution company's tariff approved by the State Corporation Commission.

C. Consolidated billing, except as otherwise arranged through contractual agreement between the local distribution company and a competitive service provider or as otherwise provided by the local distribution company's tariff approved by the State Corporation Commission, shall:

1. Be performed under a "bill-ready" protocol.

2. Not require the billing party to purchase the accounts receivable of the nonbilling party.

3. Not require the electric local distribution company to include natural gas competitive energy service charges on a consolidated bill or the natural gas local distribution company to include electric competitive energy service charges on a consolidated bill.

4. Not require the local distribution company to exchange billing information for any customer account with more than one competitive service provider for the same billing period.

5. Comply with the local distribution company's normal billing and credit cycle requirements for distribution service.

D. In the event a competitive service provider collects security deposits or prepayments, such funds shall be held in escrow by a third party in Virginia, and the competitive service provider shall provide to the State Corporation Commission the name and address of the entity holding such deposits or prepayments.

E. A competitive service provider requiring a deposit or prepayment from a customer shall limit the amount of the deposit or prepayment to the equivalent of a customer's estimated liability for no more than three months' usage of services from the competitive service provider by that customer.

F. Customer deposits held or collected by a local distribution company shall be for only those services provided by the local distribution company. Any deposit held in excess of this amount shall be promptly credited or refunded to the customer. The local distribution company may, upon a customer's return to regulated electricity supply service or natural gas supply service, collect that portion of a customer deposit as permitted by the local distribution company's tariffs and 20VAC5-10-20.

G. Terms and conditions concerning customer disconnection for nonpayment of regulated service charges shall be set forth in each local distribution company's tariff approved by the State Corporation Commission. A customer may not be disconnected for nonpayment of unregulated service charges. If a customer receives consolidated billing service and a competitive service provider is the billing party, the local distribution company shall advise the customer directly of any pending disconnection action for nonpayment through 10 days' notice by mail, separate from the consolidated bill. Such notice shall clearly identify the amount that must be paid and the date by which such amount must be received by, and also provide instructions for direct payment to, the local distribution company to avoid disconnection.

H. The provision of consolidated billing service shall conform to the following requirements:

1. The billing party shall apply a customer's partial payment of a consolidated bill as designated by the customer, or, in the absence of a customer's designation, to charges in the following order: (i) to regulated service arrearages owed the local distribution company; (ii) to competitive energy service arrearages owed the competitive service provider; (iii) to regulated service current charges of the local distribution company; (iv) to competitive energy service current charges of the competitive service provider; and (v) to other charges.

2. Collections of state and local consumption taxes and local utility consumer taxes shall be remitted as required by law. The person responsible for collecting and remitting such taxes shall:

a. Submit simultaneously, on or before the last day of the succeeding month of collection to the State Corporation Commission's Division of Public Service Taxation, the payment of the preceding month's state and special regulatory consumption taxes and associated Electric Utility or Natural Gas Consumption Tax Monthly Report.

b. Submit simultaneously, in accordance with the Code of Virginia and local ordinance, to each local government in whose jurisdiction the taxes have been collected, the payment of local consumption taxes and local utility consumer taxes and associated tax remittance reports.

I. The local distribution company and a competitive service provider shall comply with the following minimum billing information standards applicable to all customer bills:

1. Sufficient information shall be provided or referenced on the bill so that a customer can understand and calculate the billing charges.

2. Charges for regulated services and unregulated services shall be clearly distinguished.

3. Standard terminology shall be employed and charges shall be categorized for the following key bill components, as applicable: (i) distribution service; (ii) electricity supply service or natural gas supply service; (iii) state and local consumption tax; and (iv) local (or locality name) utility tax. The bill may provide further detail of each of these key components as appropriate.

4. Nonroutine charges and fees shall be itemized including late payment charges and deposit collections.

5. The total bill amount due and date by which payment must be received to avoid late payment charges shall be clearly identified.

6. The 24-hour toll-free telephone number of the local distribution company for service emergencies shall be clearly identified.

7. In the event a disconnection notice for nonpayment is included on a customer bill issued by the local distribution company, the notice shall appear on the first page of the bill and be emphasized in a manner that draws immediate attention to such notice. The notice shall clearly identify the amount that must be paid and the date by which such amount must be paid to avoid disconnection.

8. The following additional information shall be provided on customer bills to the extent applicable:

a. Customer name, service address, billing address, account number, rate schedule identifier, and meter identification number.

b. Billing party name, payment address, and toll-free telephone number for customer inquiries and complaints.

c. For consolidated bills, nonbilling party name and toll-free telephone number for customer inquiries and complaints and the customer's local distribution company account number.

d. Bill issue date and notice of change in rates.

e. Previous and current meter readings and dates of such meter readings or metering period days, current period energy consumption, meter reading unit conversion factor, billing-demand information, and "estimated" indicator for non-actual meter reads.

f. Previous bill amount or account balance, payments received since previous billing, balance forward, current charges, total amount due or current account balance, and payment plan information.

g. For consolidated bills, billing party and nonbilling party elements as specified in subdivision 8 f of this subsection.

J. The local distribution company shall comply with the following additional billing information standards applicable to the bills of customers that are not subject to demand-based billing charges and that purchase regulated electricity supply service or regulated natural gas supply service from the local distribution company:

1. The local distribution company shall employ standard terminology and categorize charges for the following key billing components: (i) distribution service; (ii) electricity supply service or natural gas supply service; (iii) state and local consumption tax; and (iv) local (or locality name) utility tax. Brief explanations of distribution service and electricity supply service or natural gas supply service shall be presented on the bill. Such explanations shall convey that distribution service is a regulated service that must be purchased from the local distribution company and that electricity supply service or natural gas supply service may be purchased from the competitive market;

2. The local distribution company shall provide on customer bills a customer's monthly energy consumption, numerically or graphically, for the previous 12 months; and

3. The investor-owned electric local distribution company shall provide on each bill a "price-to-compare" value, stated in cents per kilowatt-hour, representing the cost of regulated electricity supply service that would be applicable if such service were purchased from a competitive service provider. The appropriate use and limitations of such "price-to-compare" value shall be stated on the bill.

K. The local distribution company shall develop and implement a program to provide "price-to-compare" information and assistance to customers. Such a program shall ensure that customers will be provided meaningful information for evaluating competitive offers of electricity supply service or natural gas supply service. At a minimum, the program shall include a mechanism for providing, or making readily accessible, customer-specific "price-to-compare" information, including explanations of its appropriate use and limitations.

L. The billing party shall, except as otherwise arranged through contractual agreement with the nonbilling party, provide sufficient space on a consolidated bill to accommodate the local distribution company's customer account number and the nonbilling party's name and toll-free telephone number, previous bill amount or account balance, payments applied since the previous billing, balance forward, total current charges, total amount due or current account balance, six additional numeric fields to detail current charges, and 240 additional text characters.

M. If the local distribution company, as the billing party, provides consolidated billing service to a customer and continues to be the customer's billing party after the customer's service with a competitive service provider terminates, the local distribution company shall, except as otherwise arranged through contractual agreement with such competitive service provider, continue to track and bill customer account arrearages owed to such competitive service provider for two billing cycles after service has terminated. The bill shall list, at a minimum, the name, toll-free telephone number, and balance due for each former competitive service provider.

N. If the current charges of the nonbilling party are not included on the consolidated bill issued by the billing party, the bill shall note that such charges are not included.

O. If the current charges of the nonbilling party are not included on the consolidated bill issued by the billing party due to causes attributable to the nonbilling party, the charges shall be billed in the following month unless the two parties mutually agree to other arrangements.

P. If the current charges of the nonbilling party are not included on the consolidated bill issued by the billing party due to causes attributable to the billing party, the bill shall be cancelled and reissued to include such charges unless the two parties mutually agree to other arrangements.

Q. The local distribution company or a competitive service provider shall report any significant deficiency regarding the timely issuance, accuracy, or completeness of customer bills to the State Corporation Commission's Division of Energy Regulation as soon as practicable. Such reports shall detail the circumstances surrounding the deficiency and the planned corrective actions.

R. If the local distribution company has an approved tariff for electric energy provided 100% from renewable energy pursuant to § 56-577 A 5 of the Code of Virginia, the provisions of subsections A through Q of this section shall not be applicable. Instead, an electric distribution company and an electric competitive service provider shall only offer separate billing service where both would be the billing party for the respective services to prospective customers pursuant to the local distribution company's tariff approved by the State Corporation Commission.

Statutory Authority

§ 12.1-13 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 17, Issue 22, eff. August 1, 2001; Errata, 18:23 VA.R. 3136 July 29, 2002; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 01, eff. January 1, 2003; Errata, 19:5 VA.R. 819 November 18, 2002; amended, Virginia Register Volume 25, Issue 08, eff. January 1, 2009; Volume 29, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2013.

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