Supplier Consolidated Billing: Get Ahead of the Curve

By Thomas R Dougherty

Discussions are underway which could present a strategic opportunity for your business.  Numerous northeast markets are developing plans for a Supplier Consolidated bill option, a process familiar to Texas market participants.  Current proposals in Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania may each have their own unique models and business rules, and thus create new challenges and opportunities to Suppliers.


Why the Sudden Interest in SCB?

For years, market participants have fought for the implementation of Utility Consolidated Billing programs with Purchase of Receivables (POR).  These programs simplified operational processes on the Supplier side and supported the success of Choice programs in their early stages.  However, these programs are very restrictive as to the types of charges that can be included on the consolidated bill, primarily only charges that are commodity based.   As Suppliers introduce more non-commodity and service-based products, they are required direct bill those non-commodity charges to the customers.
Also, Suppliers as the primary biller, have an opportunity to use the bill as an important marketing tool which keeps their name in front of the customer and provides more interaction and customer service connections throughout their contract.

Status of SCB Programs

Ohio:
 AEP Ohio has a Supplier Consolidated Bill pilot underway with a small number of Suppliers that have entered the pilot program.   The Ohio EDI workgroup requested that the PUCO enable a broader group to participate in the development of business rules and transactions for the pilot, so that standardization across utilities and states can be addressed.

Maryland: 
The MD PSC held a legislative—style hearing on February 20, 2018 to hear further from interested persons, including any party who filed written comments in this proceeding, to ask questions about the Supplier Consolidated Billing project – Case No. 9461.  There were multiple presentations and there is currently another period for interested parties to submit comments.

Pennsylvania:
 At the Commission’s January 18, 2018 Public Meeting, the Commission adopted a Joint Motion of Chairman Brown and Commissioner Kennard re: Petition of NRG Energy, Inc. for Implementation of Electric Generation Supplier Consolidated Billing (P-2016-2579249).  
Per the motion:
The NRG Petition for Implementation of Electric Generation Supplier Consolidated Billing is denied, and that docket is closed.

The Law Bureau and OCMO are to organize an en banc hearing, to occur on or before June 14, 2018, seeking comments on Supplier Consolidated Billing and other possible alternatives that would promote shopping and the inclusion of EGS value added services.
The Law Bureau is to prepare a Secretarial Letter initiating the en banc proceeding consistent with this Motion.

The Secretary’s Bureau is to create a Docket Number for the en banc proceeding.
Market participants should track the progress of these SCB programs and participate in the implementation discussions supporting efforts to standardize business processes and transactions across States and Utilities. These efforts will enable a more cost-effective process for delivering this functionality to customers.

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Tom Dougherty is founder and owner of MarketWISE.