Saturday, February 6, 2010
PPL Barred From Socializing The Costs Of Its New Time Of Use Program
Sustainable Energy Fund ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (February 1, 2010) Eric Epstein of Harrisburg, a statewide consumer advocate and Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) successfully challenged PPL’s proposed Time of Use Tariff. Mr. Epstein and Sustainable Energy Fund intervened independently on behalf of electric customers last fall alleging among other things that PPL’s proposed Time of Use program unjustly enriched electric generation suppliers like PPL Energy Plus, shifted costs to non participating customers, unfairly excluded low income customers from the program, promoted unfair competitive practices and lacked real economic benefit for PPL ratepayers. Although the Public Utility Commission voted 5-0 on Thursday to allow PPL’s voluntary Time of Use Program, it also approved a motion by Chairman Cawley that among other things prohibits PPL from recovering more than $4,000,000 in proposed expenses for administration and advertising from customers who purchase their electricity from a competitive electricity supplier. “This action taken by the Commission directly addressed our concerns with the cost effectiveness of this program, the unfair competitive practices and exclusion of certain customer groups like low income and renewable energy”, stated John Costlow, Director of Technical Services for Sustainable Energy Fund. Epstein stated “The PUC correctly halted PPL’s discriminatory plan that unfairly excluded customers, penalized hostage ratepayers and cross subsidized PPL Energy Plus.” He welcomed the decision as a victory for rate payers and hailed the PUC’s decision as a landmark and potential precedent, stating “The PUC made it clear that it will not allow ratepayers to finance and brand ill conceived marketing schemes.” The motion stated in part that “PPL has provided inadequate information on the magnitude of the Company’s ‘educational’ expenditures proposed under the Consumer Education Plan, failed to incorporate the costs related to the proposed EE&C advertisement plan, and failed to provide relevant information on other TOU program costs, consistent with our default service policy statement.” The motion also stated that “While this Commission does not apply the TRC test at the plan level, the Commission has rejected and will continue to reject, component program or measure level parts of EE&C plans that are clearly uneconomic so as to encourage utilities to refocus resources on more cost effective measures.” Mr. Costlow stated “It is unusual for the SEF to oppose a plan that is supposed to decrease peak energy consumption as we have spent the last decade promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy but this is another bad plan by PPL, funded by the ratepayer. PPL needs to be accountable; they need to do the right thing for rate payers.” Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a private nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization focused on reducing financial, educational and regulatory barriers to a sustainable energy future. SEFs educational programs such as the award winning Solar Scholars® create an understanding and passion for sustainable energy in leaders of today and tomorrow. To overcome traditional financial barriers the organization provides specialized loans and leases for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.