- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Department of Public Utilities
BOSTON — Continuing its commitment to safeguarding the interests of ratepayers, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) today issued an order increasing state oversight and consumer protections relating to the door-to-door marketing practices of competitive electric supply companies. The order, one of several orders issued through the DPU’s multi-year investigation into improving the competitive supply market, requires all competitive supply companies conducting door-to-door marketing campaigns to file a notice of door-to-door marketing with the DPU and follow specific standards of conduct when interacting with electric customers.
“By increasing oversight over competitive suppliers’ marketing efforts, and instituting standards of conduct to ensure competitive supply representatives properly identify themselves to the public, this order will ensure Massachusetts residents are protected from some of the most deceptive marketing practices and misinformation regarding competitive supply,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Today’s order reflects the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to ensuring the electric supply market is fair and competitive, and that Massachusetts ratepayers are provided the most reliable service at the lowest possible cost.”
“Instituting door-to-door marketing requirements for electric competitive suppliers will make the competitive supply market more transparent, safe, and understandable for consumers, empowering them to making the best possible electric supply choice for their families,” said Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Chairman Angela O’Connor. “This order builds on our years-long work to ensure the integrity of the competitive electricity market through our advocacy for electricity consumers and providing electricity product information to consumers on our Energy Switch Massachusetts website.”
As a result of the order, each competitive supply company is now required to file with the DPU a list of every city or town in which they are conducting door to door marketing, an affirmation that they will adhere to all local ordinances of the communities in which they are marketing, an attestation that any person hired to work on a door-to-door marketing campaign has undergone a thorough background check, and the name and contact information for the company personnel responsible for overseeing door-to-door marketing.
Additionally, all competitive supply company personnel engaging in a door-to-door marketing campaign must:
- Produce and display identification clearly stating the competitive supplier or electricity broker’s name, logo, and the individual’s first name, photo, and identification number;
- Provide a phone number on request that the customer can call to verify the identity of the individual and competitive supplier or electricity broker they are representing;
- Identify the competitive supplier or electricity broker which he or she represents upon commencement of the sales call;
- Prohibit any door-to-door marketing that indicates or suggests affiliation with the local utility (i.e., Eversource, National Grid, or Unitil)
Any competitive suppliers that do not fully comply with these requirements are subject to fines, suspension or revocation of their competitive supplier or electricity broker license.
This order is one of multiple actions the DPU has taken to improve the competitive supply market and protect ratepayers through its multi-year investigation into initiatives to improve the retail electric competitive supply market. In October 2016, the DPU launched a website, Energy Switch Massachusetts, which allows customers to simply and transparently compare elements of competitive supply product options, including pricing, and includes educational materials on the options customers have for electric supply.
In September 2016, the DPU issued an order requiring reporting and notification requirements when customers are transferred from one competitive supply company to another through a merger or acquisition. In November 2015, the DPU eliminated the bill recalculation provision for residential and small commercial and industrial electric customers, ensuring utilities could no longer recalculate the bills of customers who have switched from default basic service to a competitive supplier.