The Public Service Commission’s (“PSC” or “Commission”) recently enacted Uniform Business Practices for Distributed Energy Resource Suppliers (“UBP-DERS”) Order establishes multiple tiers of regulatory oversight based on the characteristics of a DER provider’s business model. For entities engaged in residential sales of community distributed generation (“CDG”) subscriptions and on-site mass market distributed generation (“DG”) installations, the UBP-DERS requires, among other things, registration with the PSC, compliance with marketing and advertising standards, inclusion of specified terms and disclosures in sales agreements, and customer complaint procedures/reporting requirements.
Pursuant to the Commission’s UBP-DERS Order, all CDG and on-site mass market DG providers must file a completed registration form, including sample contracts and bills, in conformance with the UBP-DERS regulations. DER providers must submit these materials by April 2, 2018.
Sample contracts and bills will be required for each “materially distinct” category of products. For example, a CDG provider that offers both a power purchase agreement and a lease option will be required to file a sample contract for each type of product. Please also note that the standardized customer disclosure statement overrides any conflicting terms in a DER provider’s sales agreement, so it is crucial to review these materials to ensure consistent and functional application of the provider’s terms and conditions. Given that each DER provider may have a unique business model, the Commission has indicated that it will accept placeholders or other indicators within the application materials which explain that certain terms may vary depending on each customer.
The registration process does not appear to involve an affirmative “approval” or determination by the PSC. Rather, the PSC has indicated that it will review each DER provider’s registration materials and notify the provider of any deficiencies or concerns that must be addressed. At least with respect to Energy Service Companies (“ESCOs”), on which the UBP-DERS practices were based, the Commission Staff has a practice of reviewing contract documents and providing informal approval e-mails. While this is not a requirement of the UBP-DERS, it can be a useful method of responding to customer deception contract terms and/or deception complaints that are commonplace in the ESCO market, but not necessarily expected to be as common with DERS customers.
Starting on April 2, 2018, DER providers must comply with the contracting and customer disclosure requirements outlined in the UBP-DERS Order.