PRC Orders KCEC to Comply (Again!).

By: Bill Whaley
25 May, 2017

The PRC has issued a second request (see paragraphs 9 and 10 below in the Second Bench Request Order issued May 22, 201700. A few months ago, 2015 Intervener Whaley filed a formal complaint, alleging that the Coop retroactively billed the members of the Coop. According to staff, see below, KCEC admitted to charges of over-billing 6500, due to Intervener Des Georges’s protest. Later staff found and the Coop admitted to another 16,000 overcharges. Then KCEC made a fuss about being unable to read the rest of the meters re: the balance of “retroactive” charges. Hence the second bench request.

This Intervener does not know why KCEC decided to “bilk” its own members, who allegedly “own the Coop.” Could it be that KCEC desperately needs the dough to fund the Broadband project, solar projects, and pay exorbitant fees to Guzman Energy and Tri-State as well as pay for loans to defunct diversification projects? Currently, according to recent elections, the members are “shunning” the Coop. Things are pretty bad when members consider the Trustees “persona non grata.”

Here’s the order:

BEFORE THE NEW MEXICO PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION

IN THE MATTER OF THE FORMAL )
COMPLAINT OF BILL E. WHALEY AGAINST ) Case No. 17-00017-UT KIT CARSON ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, )
INC. )
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ )

SECOND BENCH REQUEST ORDER

THIS MATTER comes before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (“Commission”) upon the formal complaint filed with the Commission by Bill E. Whaley (“Whaley” or “Complainant”) against Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. (“KCEC” ).
Whereupon, being duly informed,

THE COMMISSION FINDS AND CONCLUDES:

1. On February 1, 2017, Whaley filed a formal complaint (” the Complaint”), which included, but is not limited to, the following claims that: a) KCEC engaged in “retroactive billing” or billing for an increase in energy services delivered prior to December 14, 2016, the effective date of the Final Order Adopting Recommended Decision in KCEC’s most recent rate Case No. 15-00375-UT; and b) KCEC engaged in “double billing” for the last day of service at the end of one month and the first day of service at the beginning of the following month.

2. Complainant requested that the Commission launch an inquiry into KCEC’s alleged “retroactive billing practices” to determine whether KCEC abides by the Commission’s definitions of the terms “service,” “usage,” days,” and “billing periods”. Complainant requested that the Commission clarify the definitions of the terms “service,” “usage,” “days,” “billing periods” and “bill date” and “due date” so that KCEC customers can know what to expect as these terms relate to the “effective” date of the rate increase.

3. On February 7, 2017, the Commission provided KCEC with a Notice of Complaint and Order Requiring Answer.

4. On February 23, 2017, KCEC filed its Answer to Formal Complaint in which it asserted that: a) KCEC has not engaged in “retroactive billing”; b) KCEC had previously advised the Commission of an inadvertent billing error where it had identified for approximately 6,500 residential customers for the November 2016 billing period;1 c) KCEC stated that it had met with the Utility Division Staff and had informed Staff that it appeared approximately 6,500 residential customers were affected by the billing errors for the November 2016 billing period; d) these 6,500 residential customers were charged the higher fixed monthly customer service charge approved by the Commission in its Final Order in Case No. 15-00375-UT, as opposed to the prior fixed monthly customer service charge in effect during the November 2016 billing period; and e) some of these customers were also charged the higher volumetric kWh charges also approved in the Final Order prior to the date the higher rates became effective.

5. KCEC stated that on January 17, 2017, that it met with Staff to discuss the following corrective action plan: a) for each of these residential customers who were inadvertently charged the higher monthly customer service charge for the November billing period, KCEC would provide a refund in the form of a credit to customers’ bills for those affected customers in an amount equal to the difference between the old monthly fixed charge applicable to the November billing period, and the higher monthly fixed charge inadvertently charged during the November billing period; b) that for those residential customers that may have been inadvertently y charged the higher volumetric

‘I
1 See, KCEC’s Response to Motions for Rehearing in the rate Case No. 15-00375-UT.

kWh rate for the November billing period, KCEC would provide a refund in the form of a credit to customers’ bills for those affected customers in an amount equal to the difference between the prior volumetric kWh rate applicable in the November billing period, and the higher volumetric kWh rate inadvertently charged during that period; c) that this refund credit would be identified on the electric bills of those affected residential customers; d) that it has taken some additional time to develop the software changes necessary to appropriately bill for the kWhs consumed by customers prior to the effective date of the rate changes at the lower volumetric rate and bill kWhs consumed after the effective date of the rate changes at the higher volumetric rate.

6. KCEC responded that KCEC will provide a report to the Staff describing the implementation of the change in rates that resulted in the billing errors, the extent of the inadve1ient billing errors in terms of the number of customers affected, and the aggregate amount of adjustments to electric customer bills.

7. On March 14 and 15, 2017, KCEC and Staff respectively filed a status report which was directed to include a description of the implementation of the change in rates that resulted in the billing errors; the number of customers affected; evidence of number of KCEC customers who received refunds; total amount of refunds made to all KCEC customers; and a list of individual amounts of refund made by KCEC.

8. KCEC’s Response to the first Bench Request Order stated that it had not yet completed all the analyses necessary for identification of the refunds necessary for the billing errors for all remaining (non-Rate 1) residential accounts and the nonresidential accounts. KCEC stated that it would continue its review and analyses of the billing system adjustments necessary to ide1nify and make the refunds to correct he inadvertent
billing errors for those non-Rate 1 residential accounts and the non-residential accounts. Kit Carson will advise the Commission when it has completed the refunds for all remaining customer accounts.

9. Staffs March 15, 2017 Response stated that regarding the Final Order in the rate Case No. 15-00375-UT, Rate I-Residential Service, KCEC refunded
$156,373 .06 to 16,511 customers. Staff stated: [f]or this rate class, Staff believes KCEC has “made substantially all the necessary refunds to KCEC customers for KCEC’s inadvertent billing errors. Regarding the Final Order, specifically Rate 2-Residential Seasonal; Rate 17-Time of Use-Residential; Rate 18-Time of Use-Residential Seasonal; Staff stated that it believes that: “KCEC has not made any refunds to customers in these classes… KCEC has not substantially made all the necessary refunds to KCEC customers.”

10. Staffs areas of concern were: a) The amount of time it took KCEC to find there was inadvertent billing problem with the non-residential rates implemented pursuant to the September 7, 2016 Order Terminating Suspension. Staff stated this issue was not identified until KCEC undertook its review of the residential billing issues arises out of the December 7th Final Order. On a per customer basis, the refund amount in this rate class could be substantial. Staff further stated that regarding Exhibit B of KCEC’s Response, Pgs. 3-4, Paragraph 7, KCEC stated it was unable to retrieve meter information on December 14 for certain meters in cycle 1, and that these customers would therefore not receive a refund. Staff recommended KCEC be directed to provide customers affected by this meter issue a refund based upon an estimated refund amount.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

A. Regarding Rates 2, 17 and 18, no later than noon on May 26, 2017, KCEC shall file a status report reporting on whether or not it has accomplished the refunds for the billing errors identified (that Staffs Response stated had not been accomplished by March 15, 2017); the number of customers affected; evidence of number of KCEC customers who received refunds; whether there are still remaining customers in these classes to whom refunds need to be made; and the total amount of refunds made to all KCEC customers.
B. Regarding the non-residential customers who were affected by the implementation of rates pursuant to the September ih Order Terminating Suspension, no later than noon on May 26, 2017, KCEC shall file a status report on whether all the
necessary refunds have been accomplished, including the number of customers affected; evidence of number of KCEC customers who received refunds; whether there are still remaining customers in these classes to whom refunds need to be made; and the total amount of refunds made to all KCEC customers.

C. KCEC, in its May 26th status report filed in response to this Second Bench Request, shall also included whether or not they have or will provide a refund to customers affected by the meter issue referred to in Paragraph 10 herein, based upon an estimated refund amount as recommended by Staff.

D. No later than noon on May 30, 2017, Staff shall file its response to KCEC’s status report filed on May 26, 2017, stating whether KCEC has accomplished all
of the necessary refunds to all ratepayers in all classes affected by the September i 11
Order and wht ther KCEC has accomplished all of the necessary refunds to all ratepayers

in all classes affected the Final Order in Case No. 15-00375-UT including a statement as to whether there still remaining customers to whom refunds need to be made.
E. This Order is effective immediately.

F. Copies of this Order shall be served on all persons listed on the attached Certificate of Service, via e-mail to those whose e-mail addresses are known, and otherwise via regular mail.

ISSUED at Santa Fe, New Mexico, this 22nd day of May, 2017.

NEW MEXICO PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION

TELEPHONICALLY APPROVED

SANDY JONES, CHAIRMAN

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