AES Ohio wants to be able to shut down service remotely

“Remote disconnect technology may work for DP&L’s efficiency and profits, but it’s not working for the lives of Ohio families who are being denied a last chance to prevent disconnection and despair,” the OCC said in a filing with PUCO. the week.

(AES Ohio is regularly referred to as DP&L in business before state regulators. The company changed its name in February 2021.)

The power company’s current disconnection routine involves a non-payment notice sent to the customer that includes a disconnection date, with an additional winter notice if the situation occurs during colder months, AES Ohio said. in a file with the PUCO last December.

Remote disconnects via “smart meter” would occur between 8 a.m. and noon on weekdays, AES Ohio proposed to PUCO.

While AES Ohio proposed limiting the number of “vulnerable customers” who would be exempt from remote service disconnections, the OCC argued in its recent filing that “all at-risk consumers should be protected — including household members with chronic illnesses, the elderly, those with language barriers, others who may not fully understand the process of disconnecting.

“Ohio law mandates to protect at-risk Ohios, and PUCO should not approve any requests for waivers of in-person notification requirements without considering the impact of the waiver on at-risk populations,” said the OCC.

Under current routines, on the day of the disconnect, an AES Ohio employee is dispatched to the property to give notice to the customer or leave a door hanger if the customer is not home. The employee then disconnects the service.

The company wants state permission to change that. It proposed to PUCO to inform customers of the change in disconnection procedure by means of a billing message.

“In order to avoid confusion and an influx of calls into the call center, the company proposes to notify only active customers who have paid an invoice more than 30 days overdue in the previous two years” , said AES Ohio.

There would be additional notice and a call to the customer during the winter months, the company said.

AES Ohio offers to call customers two days before disconnecting service, one day before and on the disconnect date if the customer has not paid the required amount, the utility told PUCO. When available, AES Ohio will provide the customer with the choice of communication channel – essentially, SMS, phone call and/or email.

“The company’s new metering infrastructure will also enable remote reconnect capability, which will improve customer satisfaction,” AES Ohio said in a filing. “Furthermore, the approval of this waiver will have the effect of increasing the safety of its employees and contractors by avoiding coming into contact with any potential hazards or threats on the client’s premises.”

Smart meters will also enable remote reconnection of service, the company noted in its December 2021 filing.

PUCO staff recommended against the proposal.

“The app lacks sufficient messaging to customers regarding the change in sign-out practices,” they wrote late last month. “It will take time and messaging customers who have relied on the in-place review to avoid a disconnect to change their behaviors and respond to alternative reviews.”

According to the OCC, each utility has its own end-of-service procedures. In general, however, electric customers should have at least 14 days to pay each month’s bill, the office said. If payment isn’t received by the time the next bill is generated, the company can begin the disconnect process, the consumer office said.

A spokeswoman for AES Ohio said remote shutdown and restore will allow the company to waive a $25 reconnect fee.

In the summer, late AES customers receive a notice. Customers will receive a notice of disconnection by mail 14 days after the payment of the previous invoice is due. This notice tells customers the minimum they must pay to avoid service disruption and the date the bill must be paid before the service ends.

In winter, customers receive two notices.

Comments are closed.