I am often critical of the WV PSC, but I also praise them when they get it right. On Friday, they got it right.
The Commissioners are requiring FirstEnergy to provide detailed reports on the status of various aspects of their billing and customer service processes every month starting on August 15, 2013.
In its order, the Commission also refuted FirstEnergy’s excuses for its failure to conduct its business properly. Among other things, the Commissioners pointed out that despite FirstEnergy’s claims that all its problems were resolved, FirstEnergy’s numbers, in several areas, have continued to deteriorate. The Commissioners repeated the PSC staff’s astute observation that if new estimates are based on past billing, then past estimation errors only become magnified with each passing month as the errors compound themselves in the estimation process itself.
The Commissioners made it clear that they are going to take their time and closely supervise FirstEnergy for as long as it takes to correct the problems. And after FirstEnergy’s first two months of reports have been filed, the Commission promised to hold public hearings throughout Mon Power and Potomac Edison service areas.
And if FirstEnergy doesn’t shape up, here is what the Commissioners said might happen:
The Commission cannot at this time conclusively determine what future action might be necessary if current trends continue, possible future interventions may include (i) requiring more costly monthly meter reading instead of bimonthly readings, (ii) fixing minimum meter reading staff levels and practices, (iii) creating financial/rate penalties tied to statistical performance or (iv) requiring FirstEnergy to retain a consultant to revise its integration process.
It looks like things are moving in the right direction with this case.