Advice Letter 4460-E: Southern California Edison’s Transition Plan for the Expiration of Emergency Customer Protections Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 16, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order directing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC or Commission) to monitor consumer protections offered by electrical corporations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the Executive Order, Southern California Edison (SCE) and the other investor-owned utilities (IOUs) submitted emergency consumer protection plans on March 19, 2020. Subsequent to SCE’s submission, on April 16, 2020, the Commission, issued Resolution M-4842 to ratify direction provided by the Commission and to provide continuity and consistency between all utility actions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the Resolution provided, among other protections, the following:
- Suspend disconnection for nonpayment and associated fees, waive deposit and late fee requirements for residential customers.
- Waive deposit requirements for residential customers seeking to reestablish service for one year, and to expedite move in and move out service requests.
- Implement payment plan options for residential customers.
- Support low-income residential customers by freezing state reviews for CARE program eligibility, and suspending program removals.
On February 11, 2021, the Commission approved Resolution M-4849 (Resolution), which extended these protections through June 30, 2021. The Resolution also required that IOUs submit Advice Letters to provide a transition plan for the expiration of Emergency Customer Protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 1, 2021, SCE issued Advice Letter 4460-E (AL) pursuant to the Resolution to ease customers through a transition off of the Emergency Customer Protections through proactive communication efforts regarding program enrollments, energy bill management and informing customers of upcoming changes.
While the Emergency Customer Protections period is currently estimated to expire on June 30, 2021, SCE has provided a timeline for resumed activities in their AL which reflect the following:
- At least 60 days prior to June 30
- SCE will begin communications and outreach to customers regarding the upcoming expiration of Emergency Customer Protections
- July 1
- Collection of the service connection charge for Small Business Customers
- Resumption of Late Payment Charges for Residential and Small Business Customers
- Commencement of verifications and re-certifications for CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline customers
- September 7
- Earliest possible date for disconnection due to non-payment
SCE indicates in the AL that they will work with customers, including CCA customers, to move residential and Small Business Customers to payment plans whenever possible to avoid disconnection. Additionally, SCE states that it intends to limit the number of disconnections during the first three months after collection activities resume.
CalChoice will monitor collection activities closely, and will continue to work collaboratively with SCE on marketing and outreach to ensure CCA customers are informed and are eased off of the Emergency Customer Protections. Additionally, CalChoice will engage with our call centers to ensure customer service representatives are able to assist customers in understanding all available options to reduce CCA customer disconnections.