20.59.07.08

.08 Supplier Contracts.

A. Minimum Contract Requirements.

(1) Only a person licensed under COMAR 20.54 may execute a gas supply contract with a customer.

(2) A supplier contract shall contain all material terms and conditions, including:

(a) A list and description of the contract services;

(b) A statement of minimum use requirements, if any;

(c) A description of any time-of-use restrictions, including seasonal or monthly pricing, if applicable;

(d) A clear and concise price description of each service, including but not limited to any condition of variability or limits on price variability;

(i) If there is a limit on price variability, such as a specific price cap, a maximum percentage increase in price between billing cycles or minimum/maximum charges per therm for natural gas during the term of the contract, the supplier shall clearly explain applicable limits;

(ii) If there is not a limit on price variability, the supplier shall clearly and conspicuously state that there is not a limit on how much the price may change from one billing cycle to the next.

(e) A notice that the contract does not include utility charges;

(f) A billing procedure description;

(g) In the case of consolidated billing, a notice that the customer acknowledges that customer billing and payment information may be provided to the supplier;

(h) A statement of contract duration, including the initial time period and any rollover provision;

(i) A deposit requirement, if any, including:

(i) The amount of the deposit;

(ii) A description of when and under what circumstances the deposit will be returned;

(iii) A description of how the deposit may be used; and

(iv) A description of how the deposit will be protected;

(j) A description of any fee or charge and the circumstances under which a customer may incur a fee or charge;

(k) A statement that the supplier may terminate the contract early, including the:

(i) Circumstances under which early cancellation by the supplier may occur;

(ii) Manner in which the supplier shall notify the customer of the early cancellation of the contract;

(iii) Duration of the notice period before early supplier cancellation; and

(iv) Remedies available to the customer if early cancellation occurs;

(l) A statement that the customer may terminate the contract early, including the:

(i) Circumstances under which early cancellation by the customer may occur;

(ii) Manner in which the customer shall notify the supplier of the early cancellation of the contract;

(iii) Duration of the notice period before early cancellation;

(iv) Remedies available to the supplier if early cancellation occurs; and

(v) Amount of any early cancellation fee;

(m) A statement describing contract renewal procedures, if any;

(n) A statement describing how the customer may access future pricing information;

(o) A dispute procedure; and

(p) The Commission's toll-free number and Internet address.

B. Contract Summary.

(1) At the time of completion of the contracting process, a supplier shall provide the customer a copy of the executed contract and completed Contract Summary on the form provided by the Commission.

(2) If the contract is completed through telephone solicitation, the supplier shall send the Contract Summary to the customer along with the contract that must be signed by the customer and returned as required by the Maryland Telephone Solicitations Act. If the contract is exempt from the Maryland Telephone Solicitations Act, the supplier shall send the Contract Summary with the contract to the customer.

(3) If enrollment is completed through the internet, the Contract Summary shall be:

(a) Available online and made available for download by the customer at the time of contracting; and

(b) Shall be transmitted to the customer by the supplier by mail or by email if the customer consents to receipt of email disclosures.

(4) If the contract is completed in person, the contract and the Contract Summary shall be reviewed with and provided to the customer by the supplier in hard copy or electronically, and the executed contract and Contract Summary provided to the customer at the time of contracting in hard copy or electronically if the customer consents to electronic disclosures.

C. Methods of Contracting.

(1) A supplier may not enroll a customer using a process that does not require affirmative confirmation by the customer.

(2) If a supplier solicitation is in writing or a supplier contract is provided in response to documents submitted upon personal contact, a signed contract is required.

(3) Internet Contracts.

(a) A supplier that contracts with a customer by means of the Internet shall:

(i) Confirm the identity of the person making the contract;

(ii) Comply with applicable Maryland and federal law; and

(iii) Take appropriate steps to safeguard customer privacy.

(b) A supplier that sends a contract over the Internet to a valid email address of the contracting customer is considered to have complied with §B(3)(a)(i) of this regulation.

(4) Telephone Contracts.

(a) A supplier may contract with a customer through a telephone solicitation.

(b) If a supplier is contracting with a customer as a result of a telephone solicitation that is exempt from all applicable State and federal law, including the Maryland Telephone Solicitations Act, Commercial Law Article, §§14-2201—14-2205, Annotated Code of Maryland, a supplier shall:

(i) Comply with this chapter;

(ii) Confirm that customer questions relating to the contract are answered;

(iii) Confirm that an independent third party verifies the contract, or record the entire telephone conversation and maintain the recording for the duration of the contract;

(iv) Mail or otherwise transmit to the customer a complete written contract within 3 business days of the contracting conversation; and

(v) Disclose all material contract terms and conditions to the customer over the telephone.

(c) A supplier that sends a contract over the Internet to a valid email address of the contracting customer is considered to have complied with §B(4)(b)(iv) of this regulation.

D. Evergreen Contracts.

(1) A supplier shall provide a customer with a notice of the pending renewal of an evergreen contract 45 days before the automatic renewal is scheduled to occur.

(2) The supplier notice required under §C(1) of this regulation shall:

(a) Provide a clearly stated and highlighted notice to a customer of any changes in the material terms and conditions of the agreement;

(b) Inform the customer how to terminate the contract without penalty;

(c) Inform the customer that terminating the evergreen contract without selecting another supplier will return the customer to utility commodity service; and

(d) Inform the customer how to access the customerís rate for the next billing cycle in accordance with 20.59.07.13.

(3) A clear and concise price description of each service, including, but not limited to, any condition of variability or limits on price variability.

(a) If there is a limit on price variability, such as a specific price cap, a maximum percentage increase in price between billing cycles or minimum/maximum charges per therm of natural gas during the term of the contract, the supplier shall clearly explain applicable limits.

(b) If there is not a limit on price variability, the supplier shall clearly and conspicuously state that there is not a limit on how much the price may change from one billing cycle to the next.