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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 09-722



Secretarial Letter to All Jurisdictional Fixed Utilities Currently Utilizing Electonic Billing Programs

[39 Pa.B. 2068]
[Saturday, April 18, 2009]

   To:  All Jurisdictional Fixed Utilities Currently Utilizing Electronic Billing Programs

   Re:  Rulemaking to Amend the Provisions of 52 Pa. Code Chapter 56 to Comply with the Provisions of 66 Pa.C.S. Chapter 14; General Review of Regulations; Doc. No. L-00060182

   The purpose of this letter is to direct those utilities that have already adopted e-billing programs, whether or not they first obtained a waiver from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission), to file comments regarding the successes and failures of their individual electronic billing (e-billing) programs by April 20, 2009. These comments will aid the Commission in facilitating the move towards greater use of technology, enabling consumers the option to realize the benefits of e-billing while providing adequate safeguards, and establishing best practices and guidance. This information is critically important as the Commission develops the final regulations, and it can also serve as a basis to consider granting a blanket waiver until such time final regulations are promulgated.

   By order entered March 12, 2009, at P-2009-2082012, the Commission granted a petition filed by T. W. Phillips Gas and Oil Co. (T. W. Phillips) for a limited, partial, temporary exemption of the provisions of 52 Pa. Code §§ 56.11 and 56.21 (relating to billing frequency; and payment). The waiver permits T. W. Phillips to administer an e-billing option that would allow customers who voluntarily enroll to receive electronic notifications regarding bill readiness and online bill availability in lieu of sending a traditional paper bill. Several other gas utilities have chosen to seek a similar waiver before offering e-billing, and the Commission has granted them. In addition, many other gas, electric, water and telephone utilities have already begun to offer voluntary e-billing services without seeking a waiver.

   The Commission has proposed revisions to its Chapter 56 regulations to facilitate the use of e-billing while safeguarding the interests of customers. The proposed regulation expressly authorizes a utility to provide e-billing in lieu of mailing a paper copy of the bill to a customer. It also provides that participation in e-billing is voluntary, that customers may revert to receiving a bill by regular mail, and that the e-bill will contain all of the information normally included in a paper bill. There appears to be many benefits to paperless billing including significant environmental benefits and savings for customers.

   The Commission granted the waiver requested by T.W. Phillips, but believes that, in light of the proposed rulemaking, it would be an inefficient use of Commission and stakeholder resources to require each utility with an e-billing program to file a petition for waiver of Commission regulations.

   The comments required to be filed under this Secretarial Letter should address at least the following aspects of e-billing:

   1)  The scope and description of current e-billing programs;

   2)  The current levels of participation in current e-billing programs;

   3)  Any changes to tariffs made or which should be made to tariffs to implement e-billing;

   4)  Describe any changes you have made to your e-billing programs since the inception of the programs;

   5)  Information that was or will be contained in bill inserts and other communications to customers explaining e-billing along with copies of those documents; and

   6)  Any other concerns regarding e-billing that the Commission should consider.

   Comments must be filed by April 20, 2009, for Doc. No. L-00060182, and may be filed separately to comment only on e-billing or as a part of the comments filed on the entire rulemaking. As soon as practical after the close of the public comment period, but no later than June 30, 2009, the Law Bureau and the Bureau of Consumer Services will review the comments related to e-billing and provide a report to the Commission with a recommendation on whether or not the Commission should issue guidance and a blanket waiver permitting e-billing pending final disposition of the rulemaking.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 09-722. Filed for public inspection April 17, 2009, 9:00 a.m.]

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