Advancing
Universal Service, Affordability, and Customer Protection for Residential Utility Consumers.

Old Pulp Site

The Energy Consumer Protection Act
(ECPA) of 2002 and
The Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA)

Background

The Energy Consumer Protection Act of 2002 (ECPA) was supported by PULP, AARP, other consumer groups, and a coalition of new providers of energy services. ECPA 2002 is Chapter 686 of the Laws of 2002. It will take effect June 18, 2003, 180 days after it was signed by the Governor.

The Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) is New York’s utility consumer “bill of rights.â€�  It was adopted in 1981 to establish and consolidate in Article 2 of the Public Service Law the basic rights and remedies of New York’s residential energy consumers.  It is one of the strongest consumer protection statutes for electric and gas customers in the nation, and implements much of our State’s universal service policy.

Beginning in 1996 and 1997, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) allowed uncertified alternative gas and electric companies to sell electric energy, natural gas, and other services to residential utility customers.  It also determined that, when these new gas and electric service companies made residential sales, HEFPA would not apply. ECPA 2002 reversed this determination and assures that customers will have the same rights and remedies no matter which company provides service.

Under ECPA, all of the protections defined by HEFPA are made applicable to the transactions between the competitive suppliers and residential consumers. With respect to the commencement and continuation of service, these include rules with respect to deposits, budget billing, estimated bills, plain language bills, third-party notices, deferred payment agreements and other protections found in HEFPA for households experiencing medical emergencies, for households with elderly, blind or disabled customers, and for households that might experience a loss of service in a cold weather season. Finally, this bill allows the residential customer taking service from a competitive supplier who has a billing or service dispute with that supplier under HEFPA to take that complaint for hearing and written determination to the Public Service Commission.

PULP is monitoring closely the implementation of ECPA 2002.  If you have any questions or are aware of new issues or problems arising from the new law please contact PULP.