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RULE §25.475General Retail Electric Provider Requirements and Information Disclosures to Residential and Small Commercial Customers

(a) Applicability. The requirements of this section apply to retail electric providers (REPs) in connection with the provision of service and marketing to residential and small commercial customers. When specifically stated, the requirements of this section apply to brokers, aggregators, and transmission and distribution utilities (TDUs). The requirements for an additional notice to residential customers of contract expiration is effective for contracts entered into on or after September 1, 2021. REPs must comply with the requirements set forth in §25.475(e)(2)(B)(ii), (e)(2)(C)(iii), (v), (vi), (vii), (h)(4), (h)(6)(C), and the requirements set forth under §25.475(e)(1) for contracts entered into with small commercial customers by April 1, 2022. Contracts entered into prior to the effective date of these provisions must comply with the provisions of this section in effect at the time the contracts were executed.

(b) Definitions. The definitions set forth in §25.5 (relating to Definitions) and §25.471(d) (relating to General Provisions of Customer Protection Rules) of this title apply to this section. In addition, the following words and terms, when used in this section have the following meanings, unless the context indicates otherwise.

  (1) Contract--The terms of service document, the Electricity Facts Label (EFL), Your Rights as a Customer document (YRAC), and the documentation of enrollment pursuant to §25.474 of this title (relating to Selection of Retail Electric Provider), and, if applicable, Prepaid Disclosure Statement (PDS).

  (2) Contract documents--The terms of service, EFL, YRAC, and, if applicable, PDS.

  (3) Contract expiration--The time when the initial term contract is completed. A new contract is initiated when the customer begins receiving service pursuant to the new EFL.

  (4) Contract term--The time period the contract is in effect.

  (5) Fixed rate product--A retail electric product with a term of at least three months for which the price (including all recurring charges and ancillary service charges) for each billing period of the contract term is the same throughout the contract term, except that the price may vary from the disclosed amount solely to reflect actual changes in TDU charges, changes to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) or Texas Regional Entity, Inc. administrative fees charged to loads or changes resulting from federal, state or local laws that impose new or modified fees or costs on a REP that are beyond the REP's control. The price may not vary from the disclosed amount to reflect changes in ancillary service charges unless the commission expressly designates a specific type of ancillary service product as incurring charges beyond the REP's control for a customer's existing contract.

  (6) Indexed product--A retail electric product for which the price, including recurring charges, can vary according to a pre-defined pricing formula that is based on publicly available indices or information and is disclosed to the customer, and to reflect actual changes in TDU charges, changes to the ERCOT or Texas Regional Entity administrative fees charged to loads or changes resulting from federal, state or local laws or regulatory actions that impose new or modified fees or costs on a REP that are beyond the REPs control. An indexed product may be for a term of three months or more, or may be a month-to-month contract.

  (7) Month-to-month contract--A contract with a term of 31 days or less. A month-to-month contract may not contain a termination fee or penalty.

  (8) Price--The cost for a retail electric product that includes all recurring charges, including the cost of ancillary services, excluding state and local sales taxes, and reimbursement for the state miscellaneous gross receipts tax.

  (9) Recurring charge--A charge for a retail electric product that is expected to appear on a customer's bill in every billing period or appear in three or more billing periods in a twelve month period. A charge is not considered recurring if it will be billed by the TDU and passed on to the customer and will either not be applied to all customers of that class within the TDU territory, or cannot be known until the customer enrolls or requests a specific service.

  (10) Term contract--A contract with a term in excess of 31 days.

  (11) Variable price product--A retail product for which price may vary according to a method determined by the REP, including a product for which the price, can increase no more than a defined percentage as indexed to the customer's previous billing month's price. For residential customers, a variable price product can be only a month-to-month contract.

  (12) Wholesale Indexed Product--A retail electric product in which the price a customer pays for electricity includes a direct pass-through of real-time settlement point prices determined by the independent organization certified under the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) §39.151 for the ERCOT power region.

(c) General Retail Electric Provider requirements.

  (1) General Disclosure Requirements.

    (A) All written, electronic, and oral communications, including advertising, websites, direct marketing materials, billing statements, terms of service, EFLs, YRACs, and, if applicable, PDSs distributed by a REP or aggregator must be clear and not misleading, fraudulent, unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive. Prohibited communications include, but are not limited to:

      (i) Using the term or terms "fixed" to market a product that does not meet the definition of a fixed rate product.

      (ii) Suggesting, implying, or otherwise leading someone to believe that a REP or aggregator has been providing retail electric service prior to the time the REP or aggregator was certified or registered by the commission.

      (iii) Suggesting, implying or otherwise leading someone to believe that receiving retail electric service from a REP will provide a customer with better quality of service from the TDU.

      (iv) Falsely suggesting, implying or otherwise leading someone to believe that a person is a representative of a TDU or any REP or aggregator.

      (v) Falsely suggesting, implying or otherwise leading someone to believe that a contract has benefits for a period of time longer than the initial contract term.

    (B) Written and electronic communications must not refer to laws, including commission rules without providing a link or website address where the text of those rules are available. All printed advertisements, electronic advertising over the Internet, and websites, must include the REP's certified name or commission authorized business name, or the aggregator's registered name, and the number of the certification or registration.

    (C) The terms of service, EFL, YRAC , and, if applicable, PDS must be provided to each customer upon enrollment. Each document must be provided to the customer whenever a change is made to the specific document and upon a customer's request, at any time free of charge.

    (D) A REP must retain a copy of each version of the terms of service, EFL, YRAC, and, if applicable, PDS during the time the plan is in effect for a customer and for four years after the contract ceases to be in effect for any customer. REPs must provide such documents at the request of the commission or its staff.

  (2) General contracting requirements.

    (A) Each terms of service, EFL, and YRAC must be complete, be written in language that is clear, plain and easily understood, and be printed in paragraphs of no more than 250 words in a font no smaller than 10 point. References to laws including commission rules in these documents must include a link or website address to the full text of the applicable law or rule.

    (B) Each contract document must be available to the commission to post on its customer education website if the REP chooses to post offers to the website.

    (C) A contract is limited to service to a customer at a location specified in the contract. If the customer moves from the location, the customer is under no obligation to continue the contract at another location. The REP may require a customer to provide evidence that it is moving to another location. There must be no early termination fee assessed to the customer as a result of the customer's relocation if the customer provides a forwarding address and, if required, reasonable evidence that the customer no longer occupies the location specified in the contract.

    (D) A terms of service document and EFL must disclose the type of product being described, using one of the following terms: fixed rate product or a variable price product.

    (E) A REP must not use a credit score, a credit history, or utility payment data as the basis for determining the price for electric service for a product with a contract term of 12 months or less for an existing residential customer or in response to an applicant's request to become a residential customer.


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