TEPA Launches Education Effort Following the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ Adoption of New Rules for Brokers

AUSTIN, TEXAS – May 21, 2020The Energy Professionals Association (TEPA) announced today the launch of an education and outreach effort in support of new rules adopted by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to fully implement broker registration requirements approved by the Legislature in 2019. TEPA recognizes and appreciates the time and effort the Commission took to ensure the new rules do not disrupt or undermine competitive offerings available to ERCOT consumers.

As Texas’ retail energy market has become increasingly more complex, consumers have turned to brokers and consultants to help navigate their purchase options and demand services for retail electricity.  Over 1,100 businesses have registered through the process established by the Commission. TEPA estimates that approximately 72 percent of Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Aggregator, Broker and Consultant (ABC) sales in Texas are managed by TEPA members.

“Twenty years ago, Texas set the standard for deregulated energy markets, and these new rules will continue to promote competition by protecting consumer choice for retail electric service,” said Huston Able, National TEPA President. “Over the years, brokers and consultants played a critical role in developing the success of our current retail marketplace. TEPA is proud to have worked with the PUCT advocating for policies that protect customer choice.”

The new rules become effective Sunday, May 24, 2020, and provide customer service oversight of energy brokers and consultants registered with the Commission. In addition, the rules restrict retail electric providers from conducting business with unregistered brokers. The new rules establish clear protections for customers using brokerage services and provide access to the Commission’s informal complaint process to resolve service issues.  The rules also offer specific marketing guidelines and disclosure requirements for brokers and consultants operating in competitive areas.

“TEPA was asked to participate in legislative discussions on broker registration going into the 2019 legislative session, and we have stayed involved every step along the way,” said Paul Smolen, TEPA Legislative and Regulatory Chair. “We supported the legislation after negotiating key safeguards for Texas brokers who have operated in deregulated ERCOT markets for almost two decades. The Commission’s new broker registration rules support the principles of customer choice and competitive neutrality that guided TEPA’s involvement in legislative negotiations and rulemaking at the PUCT, and are consistent with the limited terms of SB 1497.”

As part of their ongoing education and outreach effort, TEPA is releasing a comprehensive summary of the new rules to all brokers registered through the interim process established by the Commission when SB 1497 took effect on September 1, 2019.

On Wednesday, May 13th, TEPA hosted a webinar with David Smeltzer, Enforcement Attorney, and Mike Hoke, Director of Government Relations, with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The webinar, which was attended by nearly 500 market participants, focused on the new broker rules. TEPA will continue to publish updates to share information with its members about implementing the new broker requirements in Texas law.

“As the retail energy market continues to evolve and become more complex, today more than ever, is a great time to be a TEPA member,” said Shannon McGriff, TEPA’s Director. “We appreciate David and Mike from the PUCT taking the time to share their insight and explain the new broker registration rules to our members and guests. Their candid discussion was an invaluable resource for everyone who joined our webinar. In the coming weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue our education and outreach efforts to ensure compliance with new requirements and to be a resource on issues that affect the retail energy market.”

The text of new rules governing brokerage services in Texas can currently be found in the Commission’s Order Adopting New 25.112 and 25.486 As Approved at the May 1, 2020 Open Meeting, and will soon be reflected in the Commission’s formal rules.  TEPA will be providing more detailed information and additional compliance guidance to its members to educate them on best practices for compliance with the new rules, §25.112 Registration of Brokers and §25.486 Customer Protections for Brokerage Services, taking effect this weekend.

About TEPA
Established in 2005, The Energy Professionals Association is a 501(c)(6) comprised of independent energy aggregators, brokers and consultants, “ABCs”, as well as energy suppliers and other energy related entities seeking the advancement of fair, deregulated energy markets. TEPA is a self-regulating body aimed at improving processes and ensuring “ABCs” maintain a high level of market knowledge and responsibility while transacting in the marketplace. For more information visit https://www.tepausa.org.