The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Briefing.
The FCC issued a $1,440,000 forfeiture against Preferred Long Distance, Inc. (Preferred) for changing the long distance telephone carriers of 14 consumers without proper authorization. The FCC found that Preferred’s telemarketers misrepresented that they were calling on behalf of the consumers’ current carriers when, in fact, they were not. The $1,440,000 was broken down as follows: $40,000 forfeiture for each of the 14 instances of slamming and an upward adjustment of $80,000 for each of the 11 slams involving misrepresentations. The FCC found that Preferred violated both §201 (barring unjust and unreasonable practices) and §258 (prohibiting slamming) of the Communications Act (Act). The FCC’s order affirms a Notice of Apparent Liability For Forfeiture in the same amount issued in 2012.
Commissioner Pai agreed with the decision to impose the $880,000 forfeiture for violating §201(b) (by misrepresenting its relationship with the local telephone company), but dissented from the conclusion that the FCC’s slamming rules and statute were violated.
Commissioner O’Reilly dissented from both the conclusion that Preferred had violated the FCC’s slamming rules and with the imposition of any fine under §201 of the Act. He said: “If a company violated section 258, which was not the case here, then it should be fined as appropriate under that section. Layering on further penalties, as if that somehow makes a company extra guilty, or to achieve a bigger penalty, should not be the goal. Rather, the purpose of enforcement is to achieve compliance with the rules, and that can be done without this surplusage.” Finding that there was “no need to invoke section 201’s prohibitions on unjust and unreasonable practices to boot,” he said the FCC “simply wants to preserve its right to use section 201 at any time and for any reason.”
The PUC has established a proceeding to review the process and requirements by which it will determine the statutory cap of 4% of the total retail electricity and transmission and distribution sales for the procurement of electric energy efficiency resources pursuant to Title 35-A, section 10110(4-A). Click here.
The PUC approved a settlement that reduces PPL Electric Utilities Corporation’s (PPL) distribution rate increase request filed in March 2015. The settlement reduces PPL’s rate increase request by 26% and resolves all other issues related to the company’s request. PPL provides service to more than 1.4 million Pennsylvania consumers in 29 counties – a region spanning approximately 10,000 square miles. The PUC approved a revenue increase of $124 million. Additionally, the settlement includes the elimination of a proposed daily customer charge, withdrawal of a PPL proposal to increase its Distribution System Improvement Charge from 5.0% to 7.5%, increases in PPL’s Customer Assistance Program and Low Income Usage Reduction Program and enhanced efforts to educate more consumers about these services.