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TITLE 16ECONOMIC REGULATION
PART 2PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS
CHAPTER 25SUBSTANTIVE RULES APPLICABLE TO ELECTRIC SERVICE PROVIDERS
SUBCHAPTER RCUSTOMER PROTECTION RULES FOR RETAIL ELECTRIC SERVICE PROVIDERS
RULE §25.498Prepaid Service

(d) Customer acknowledgement. As part of the enrollment process, a REP must obtain the applicant's or customer's acknowledgement of the following statement: "The continuation of electric service depends on your prepaying for service on a timely basis and if your balance falls below {insert dollar amount of disconnection balance}, your service may be disconnected with little notice. Some electric assistance agencies may not provide assistance to customers that use prepaid service." The REP must obtain this acknowledgement using any of the authorization methods specified in §25.474 of this title (relating to Selection of Retail Electric Provider).

(e) Prepaid disclosure statement (PDS). A REP must provide a PDS contemporaneously with the delivery of the contract documents to a customer pursuant to §25.474 of this title and as required by subsection (f) of this section. A REP must also provide a PDS contemporaneously with any advertisement or other marketing materials not addressed in subsection (f) of this section that include a specific price or cost for prepaid service. The commission may adopt a form for a PDS. The PDS must be a separate document and must be at a minimum written in 12-point font, and must:

  (1) provide the following statement: "The continuation of electric service depends on you prepaying for service on a timely basis and if your current balance falls below the disconnection balance, your service may be disconnected with little notice.";

  (2) inform the customer of the following:

    (A) the connection balance that is required to initiate or reconnect electric service;

    (B) the acceptable forms of payment, the hours that payment can be made, instructions on how to make payments, any requirement to verify payment and any fees associated with making a payment;

    (C) when service may be disconnected and the disconnection balance;

    (D) that prepaid service is not available to critical care or chronic condition residential customers as these terms are defined in §25.497 of this title (relating to Critical Load Industrial Customers, Critical Load Public Safety Customers, Critical Care Residential Customers and Chronic Condition Residential Customers);

    (E) the means by which the REP will communicate required information;

    (F) the availability of deferred payment plans and, if a REP reserves the right to apply a switch-hold while the customer is subject to a deferred payment plan, that a switch-hold may apply until the customer satisfies the terms of the deferred payment plan, and that a switch-hold means the customer will not be able to buy electricity from other companies while the switch-hold is in place;

    (G) the availability of energy bill payment assistance, including the disclosure that some electric assistance agencies may not provide assistance to customers that use prepaid service and the statement "If you qualify for low-income status or low-income assistance, have received energy assistance in the past, or you think you will be in need of energy assistance in the future, you should contact the billing assistance program to confirm that you can qualify for energy assistance if you need it."; and

    (H) an itemization of any non-recurring REP fees and charges that the customer may be charged.

  (3) be prominently displayed in the property management office of any multi-tenant commercial or residential building at which the landlord is acting as an agent of the REP.

(f) Marketing of prepaid services.

  (1) This paragraph applies to advertisements conveyed through print, television, radio, outdoor advertising, prerecorded telephonic messages, bill inserts, bill messages, and electronic media other than Internet websites. If the advertisement includes a specific price or cost, the advertisement must include in a manner that is clear and conspicuous to the intended audience:

    (A) any non-recurring fees, and the total amount of those fees, that will be deducted from the connection balance to establish service;

    (B) the following statement, if applicable: "Utility fees may also apply and may increase the total amount that you pay.";

    (C) the maximum fee per payment transaction that may be imposed by the REP; and

    (D) the following statement: "You can obtain important standardized information that will allow you to compare this product with other offers. Contact (name, telephone number, and Internet address (if available) of the REP)." If the REP's phone number or website address is already included on the advertisement, the REP need not repeat the phone number or website as part of this required statement. The REP must provide the PDS and EFL to a person who requests standardized information for the product.

  (2) This paragraph applies to all advertisements and marketing that include a specific price or cost conveyed through Internet websites, direct mail, mass e-mails, and any other media not addressed by paragraphs (1), (3), and (4) of this subsection. In addition to meeting the requirements of §25.474(d)(7) of this title, a REP must include the PDS and EFL on Internet websites and in direct mail, mass e-mails, and any other media not addressed by paragraphs (1), (3), and (4) of this subsection. For electronic communications, the PDS and EFL may be provided through a hyperlink.

  (3) This paragraph applies to outbound telephonic solicitations initiated by the REP. A REP must disclose the following:

    (A) information required by paragraph (1)(A)-(C) of this subsection;

    (B) when service may be disconnected, the disconnection balance, and any non-TDU disconnection fees;

    (C) the means by which the REP will communicate required information; and

    (D) the following statement: "You have the right to review standardized documents before you sign up for this product." The REP must provide the PDS and EFL to a person who requests standardized information for the product.

  (4) This paragraph applies to solicitations in person. In addition to meeting the requirements of §25.474(e)(8) of this title, before obtaining a signature from an applicant or customer who is being enrolled in prepaid service, a REP must provide the applicant or customer a reasonable opportunity to read the PDS.

(g) Landlord as customer of record. A REP offering prepaid service to multiple tenants at a location may designate the landlord as the customer of record for the purpose of transactions with ERCOT and the TDU.

  (1) For each ESI ID for which the REP chooses to designate the landlord as the customer of record, the REP must provide to the TDU the name, service and mailing addresses, and ESI ID, and keep that information updated as required in the TDU's Tariff for Retail Delivery Service.

  (2) The REP must treat each end-use consumer as a customer for purposes of this subchapter, including §25.471 of this title (relating to General Provisions of Customer Protection Rules). Nothing in this subsection affects a REP's responsibility to provide customer billing contact information to ERCOT in the format required by ERCOT.

(h) Summary of usage and payment (SUP).

  (1) A REP must provide a SUP to each customer upon the customer's request within three business days of receipt of the request. The SUP must be delivered by an electronic means of communications that provides a downloadable and printable record of the SUP or, if the customer requests, by the United States Postal Service. If a customer requests a paper copy of the SUP, a REP may charge a fee for the SUP, which must be specified in the terms of service and PDS provided to the customer. For purposes of the SUP, a billing cycle must conform to a calendar month.

  (2) A SUP must include the following information:

    (A) the certified name and address of the REP and the number of the license issued to the REP by the commission;

    (B) a toll-free telephone number, in bold-face type, that the customer can call during specified hours for questions and complaints to the REP about the SUP;

    (C) the name, meter number, account number, ESI ID of the customer, and the service address of the customer;

    (D) the dates and amounts of payments made during the period covered by the summary;

    (E) a statement of the customer's consumption and charges by calendar month during the period covered by the summary;

    (F) an itemization of non-recurring charges, including returned check fees and reconnection fees; and

    (G) the average price for electric service for each calendar month included in the SUP. The average price for electric service must reflect the total of all fixed and variable recurring charges, but not including state and local sales taxes, reimbursement for the state miscellaneous gross receipts tax, and any nonrecurring charges or credits, divided by the kilowatt-hour consumption, and must be expressed as a cents per kilowatt-hour amount rounded to the nearest one-tenth of one cent.

  (3) If a REP separately identifies a charge defined by one of the terms in this paragraph on the customer's SUP, then the term in this paragraph must be used to identify the charge, and such term and its definition must be easily located on the REP's website and available to a customer free of charge upon request. Nothing in the paragraph precludes a REP from aggregating TDU or REP charges. For any TDU charge(s) listed in this paragraph, the amount billed by the REP must not exceed the amount of the TDU charge(s). The label for any TDU charge(s) may also identify the TDU that issued the charge(s). A REP may use a different term than a defined term by adding or deleting a suffix, adding the word "total" to a defined term, where appropriate, changing the use of lower-case or capital letters or punctuation, or using the acceptable abbreviation specified in this paragraph for a defined term. If an abbreviation other than the acceptable abbreviation is used for the term, then the term must also be identified on the customer's SUP.

    (A) Advanced metering charge--A charge assessed to recover a TDU's charges for Advanced Metering Systems, to the extent that they are not recovered in a TDU's standard metering charge. Acceptable abbreviation: Advanced Meter.

    (B) Competition Transition Charge--A charge assessed to recover a TDU's charges for nonsecuritized costs associated with the transition to competition. Acceptable abbreviation: Competition Transition.

    (C) Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery Factor--A charge assessed to recover a TDU's costs for energy efficiency programs, to the extent that the TDU charge is a separate charge exclusively for that purpose that is approved by the Public Utility Commission. Acceptable abbreviation: Energy Efficiency.

    (D) Late Payment Penalty--A charge assessed for late payment in accordance with Public Utility Commission rules.

    (E) Meter Charge--A charge assessed to recover a TDU's charges for metering a customer's consumption, to the extent that the TDU charge is a separate charge exclusively for that purpose that is approved by the Public Utility Commission.

    (F) Miscellaneous Gross Receipts Tax Reimbursement--A fee assessed to recover the miscellaneous gross receipts tax imposed on retail electric providers operating in an incorporated city or town having a population of more than 1,000. Acceptable abbreviation: Gross Receipts Reimb.

    (G) Nuclear Decommissioning Fee--A charge assessed to recover a TDU's charges for decommissioning of nuclear generating sites. Acceptable abbreviation: Nuclear Decommission.

    (H) PUC Assessment--A fee assessed to recover the statutory fee for administering the Public Utility Regulatory Act.

    (I) Sales tax--Sales tax collected by authorized taxing authorities, such as the state, cities and special purpose districts.

    (J) TDU Delivery Charges--The total amounts assessed by a TDU for the delivery of electricity to a customer over poles and wires and other TDU facilities not including discretionary charges.

    (K) Transmission Distribution Surcharges--One or more TDU surcharge(s) on a customer's bill in any combination. Surcharges include charges billed as tariff riders by the TDU. Acceptable abbreviation: TDU Surcharges.

    (L) Transition Charge--A charge assessed to recover a TDU's charges for securitized costs associated with the transition to competition.

  (4) If the REP includes any of the following terms in its SUP, the term must be applied in a manner consistent with the definitions, and such term and its definition must be easily located on the REP's website and available to a customer free of charge upon request:

    (A) Base Charge--A charge assessed during each billing cycle of service without regard to the customer's demand or energy consumption.

    (B) Demand Charge--A charge based on the rate at which electric energy is delivered to or by a system at a given instant, or averaged over a designated period during the billing cycle.

    (C) Energy Charge--A charge based on the electric energy (kWh) consumed.

  (5) Unless a shorter time period is specifically requested by the customer, information provided must be for the most recent 12 months, or the longest period available if the customer has taken prepaid service from the REP for less than 12 months.

Cont'd...

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