§ 69.265. CAP design elements.
The following design elements should be included in a CAP:
(1) Program funding. Program funding should be derived from the following sources:
(i) Payments from CAP participants.
(ii) Operations and maintenance expense reductions.
(iii) Universal service funding mechanism for EDCs and NGDCs.
(iv) Other sources as may be approved by the Commission.
(2) Payment plan. Generally, CAP payments for jurisdictional home energy should not exceed the percentages of CAP participants annual income specified in the schedule in subsection (i). Payment plans should be based on one or a combination of the following:
(i) Percentage of income plan (PIP). Total payment for total electric and natural gas home energy under a percentage of income plan is determined based upon a scheduled percentage of the participants annual gross income. The participating households gross income and size place the household at a particular poverty level based on the FPIG.
(A) Generally, maximum payments for electric nonheating service should not exceed the following maximums:
(I) Household income between 050% of FPIG at 2% of income.
(II) Household income between 51100% of FPIG at 4% of income.
(III) Household income between 101150% of FPIG at 4% of income.
(B) Generally, maximum payments for natural gas heating should not exceed the following maximums:
(I) Household income between 050% of FPIG at 4% of income.
(II) Household income between 51100% of FPIG at 6% of income.
(III) Household income between 101150% of FPIG at 6% of income.
(C) Generally, maximum payments for electric heating or for natural gas heating and electric nonheating combined should not exceed the following maximums:
(I) Household income between 050% of FPIG at 6% of income.
(II) Household income between 51100% of FPIG at 10% of income.
(III) Household income between 101150% of FPIG at 10% of income.
(ii) Percentage of bill plan. The participants household payment is calculated as a percentage of income payment and converted to a percentage of the annual bill. When a utility determines subsequent CAP payment amounts, a participant will continue to pay the same percentage of the total bill even if annual usage has changed.
(iii) Rate discount. The participants energy usage is billed at a reduced rate.
(iv) Minimum monthly payment. The participants payment contribution is calculated by taking the participants estimated monthly budget billing amount and subtracting the maximum, monthly CAP credit (previously called billing deficiency).
(v) Annualized, average payment. The participants payment contribution is calculated by determining the total amount the participant paid over the last 12 months and dividing by 12 months to determine a monthly budget.
(vi) An alternative payment formula. An alternative payment formula must be reviewed by the Bureau of Consumer Services and approved by the Commission.
(3) Control features. The utility should include the following control features to limit program costs:
(i) Minimum payment terms. Minimum payments should be set in utility-specific USECP proceedings. A utility may propose alternatives to a flat minimum payment for each account type.
(ii) Nonbasic services. A CAP participant may not subscribe to nonbasic services that would cause an increase in monthly billing and would not contribute to bill reduction. Nonbasic services that help to reduce bills may be allowable. CAP credits should not be used to pay for nonbasic services.
(iii) Consumption limits. Limits on consumption should be set at a percentage of a participants historical average usage. A level of 110% is recommended. Adjustments in consumption should be made for extreme weather conditions through the use of weather normalization techniques.
(iv) High usage treatment. Utilities should target for special treatment those participants who historically use high amounts of energy.
(v) Maximum CAP credits. These will be established in individual utility USECP proceedings, if deemed appropriate. If applied, CAP credit limits should consist of a tiered structure based on the households FPIG level such that lower income households receive higher CAP credit limits.
(vi) Exemptions. A utility may exempt a household from maximum CAP credit or consumption limits if one or more of the following conditions exist:
(A) The household experienced the addition of a household member.
(B) A member of the household experienced a serious illness.
(C) Energy consumption was beyond the households ability to control.
(D) The household is located in housing that is or has been condemned or has housing code violations that negatively affect energy consumption.
(E) Energy consumption estimates have been based on consumption of a previous occupant.
(4) Eligibility criteria. The CAP applicant should meet the following criteria for eligibility:
(i) Status as a utility ratepayer or new applicant for service is verified.
(ii) Household income is verified at or below 150% of the FPIG.
(5) Payment-Troubled Criterion. If appropriate, a utility may prioritize CAP enrollments or control CAP costs using a payment-troubled criterion. When determining if a CAP applicant is payment-troubled, a utility should apply one of the following criteria:
(i) A household that has a pre-program arrearage. The utility may define the amount of the pre-program arrearage.
(ii) A household that has received a termination notice or has failed to maintain a payment arrangement.
(6) Late Payment Charges. CAP customers should be exempt from late payment charges.
(7) Appeal process. The utility should establish the following appeal process for program denial:
(i) If the CAP applicant is not satisfied with the utilitys initial eligibility determination, the utility should use utility company dispute procedures in § § 56.151 and 56.152 (relating to general rule; and contents of the public utility company report).
(ii) The CAP applicant may appeal the denial of eligibility to the Bureau of Consumer Services in accordance with § § 56.16156.165 (relating to informal complaint procedures).
(8) Administration. If feasible, the utility should include nonprofit CBOs in the operation of the CAP. The provisions of § 69.265(8) apply to CAP services whether they are provided by the utility or by a third-party on behalf of the utility. The utility should incorporate the following components into the CAP administration:
(i) Outreach. A utility should develop and incorporate a Consumer Education and Outreach Plan as part of its USECP. Education and outreach may be conducted by nonprofit CBOs and should be targeted to low-income customers. The utility should make automatic referrals to CAP when a low-income customer calls to make payment arrangements.
(ii) Intake and verification. The utility should accept applications for CAP through mail, telephone, electronically or in-person. The utility should also offer online platforms that allow customers to submit CAP applications and documentation electronically. Intake and verification may be conducted by nonprofit CBOs on behalf of the utilities. Intake should include verification of the following:
(A) Identification of the CAP applicant and household members. The utility may request, but not require, Social Security numbers (SSNs) to verify identity. Household members should be permitted to provide alternative identification in lieu of SSNs. The utility should clearly explain the identification options on CAP applications and other communications.
(B) The annual household income.
(I) The utility should accept income documentation of at least the last 30 days or 12 months, whichever is more beneficial to the household. CAP applications and recertification letters should identify acceptable income timeframes and explain how each may benefit the customer.
(II) A household reporting zero income should complete the standardized zero-income form and provide additional verification, if necessary.
(C) The household size.
(D) The ratepayer status.
(E) The class of serviceheating or nonheating.
(iii) Calculation of payment. Calculation of the monthly CAP payment should be the responsibility of the utility. The utility may develop a payment chart so that the assisting CBOs may determine payment amounts during the intake interview.
(iv) Explanation of CAP. A complete and thorough explanation of the CAP components should be provided to participants.
(v) Application for LIHEAP grants. The utility should inform a CAP participant of the participants responsibility to apply for LIHEAP grants annually, as well as other energy assistance programs, if eligible.
(vi) Consumer education, outreach and referral.
(A) Consumer education and outreach plans should include information on benefits and responsibilities of CAP participation and the importance of energy conservation.
(B) Consumer education and outreach plans should be developed with input from USACs and reflect focused outreach and education efforts, specific to the demographics of the individual service territory, spanning the duration of the universal service plan period. The utility should include the following provisions in its plan:
(I) Specific efforts to educate and enroll eligible and interested customers at or below 50% of FPIG.
(II) Resources, translation services, and translated materials for those customers who are of Limited English Proficiency.
(C) Customer education should include referrals to other appropriate support services.
(vii) Account monitoring. Account monitoring should include both payment and energy consumption monitoring. A CAP participants bills should be evaluated at least quarterly to determine whether the CAP credit amount and billing method is appropriate.
(A) A utility should recertify a participants eligibility for CAP benefits within the following time frames:
(I) A household reporting no income should recertify at least every 6 months.
(II) A household with income that participates in LIHEAP annually should recertify at least once every 3 years.
(III) A household whose primary source of income is Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or pensions should recertify at least once every 3 years.
(IV) All other CAP households should recertify at least once every 2 years.
(B) A utility should identify and implement more effective ways of communicating its recertification practices and procedures to CAP participants and improve its methods of collecting appropriate income information from customers in order to minimize disruption in CAP participation.
(ix) Pre-program arrearage forgiveness. Pre-program arrearage forgiveness should occur over a 1- to 3-year period contingent upon receipt of regular monthly payments by the CAP participant.
(A) A CAP participant should receive pre-program arrearage forgiveness for each on-time and in-full monthly CAP payment regardless of in-CAP arrears.
(B) A CAP participant should receive retroactive pre-program arrearage forgiveness for any monthly payment missed once the household pays in full its CAP balance/in-program arrears/debt.
(x) Routine management program progress reports. Progress reports that may be used to monitor CAP administration should be prepared at regular intervals. These reports should include basic information related to the number of participants, payments and account status.
(9) Default provisions. The failure of a participant to comply with one of the following should result in dismissal from CAP participation:
(i) Failure to abide by established consumption limits.
(ii) Failure to allow access or to provide customer meter readings in 4 consecutive months.
(iii) Failure to report changes in income or household size.
(iv) Failure to accept budget counseling, weatherization/usage reduction or consumer education services.
(v) Failure to recertify eligibility.
(10) Transfer of service. A CAP household should be able to retain program enrollment status when transferring service within the utilitys, or an affiliates, service territory.
(11) Collection Activity. A utility should initiate collection activity for CAP accounts after no more than two payments in arrears. A customer should not be removed or defaulted from CAP as a precursor to termination for non-payment.
(12) Reinstatement policy. A customer may be reinstated into CAP at the utilitys discretion.
(13) Evaluation. The utility should thoroughly and objectively evaluate its CAP in accordance with the following unless otherwise modified in § 54.76 (relating to evaluation reporting requirements) for EDCs or § 62.6 (relating to evaluation reporting requirements) for NGDCs.
(i) Content. The evaluation should include both process and impact components. The process evaluation should focus on whether CAP implementation conforms to the program design and should assess the degree to which the program operates efficiently. The impact evaluation should focus on the degree to which the program achieves the continuation of utility service to CAP participants at reasonable cost levels. At a minimum, the impact evaluation should include an analysis of the following:
(A) Customer payment behavior.
(B) Energy assistance participation.
(C) Energy consumption.
(D) Administrative costs.
(E) Program costs.
(ii) Time frame. Unless otherwise modified by § 54.76 or § 62.6, program impacts should be evaluated by an independent third-party at no more than 6-year intervals and submitted to the Commission. The impact evaluations should be filed and served at the utilitys then-current USECP docket and submitted to the Bureau of Consumer Services.
(iii) Evaluation plan approval. The utility should submit the impact evaluation plan to the Bureau of Consumer Services for review and approval.
(14) Industry-standardized forms. Utilities are encouraged to develop and use standardized CAP forms and CAP procedures.
The provisions of this § 69.265 adopted July 24, 1992, effective July 25, 1992, 22 Pa.B. 3914; amended May 7, 1999, effective May 8, 1999, 29 Pa.B. 2495; amended May 7, 2010, effective May 8, 2010, 40 Pa.B. 2443; amended March 20, 2020, effective March 21, 2020, 50 Pa.B. 1652. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (255454) to (255458) and (349287) to (349288).
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 69.261 (relating to general); 52 Pa. Code § 69.262 (relating to definitions); 52 Pa. Code § 69.263 (relating to CAP development); and 52 Pa. Code § 69.267 (relating to alternative program designs).
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