Restructuring Today
April 28, 2006

Counsel advises NEMA to use Motown's economic ills

Good time to advance what's good for market

Experts give sage counsel


Michigan's market is "really in play," explained Jack Dempsey at NEMA's Washington meeting this week.

          He's an attorney with Dickinson & Wright and represents NEMA in some Midwest proceedings.

          Dempsey likes to think the uncertainty creates an opportunity and isn't entirely negative, he told NEMA.

          Michigan is lagging the nation economically, he noted, making policy makers "desperate" for job growth.

          It's a good time, he said, to "play off that."

          The PSC's mission statement lists "growing" Michigan's economy as its first responsibility, he explained.

          He advised approaching the commission upfront even before filing the application. 

          Discussing issues with regulators beforehand can deliver "untold dividends."

          It may be worthwhile to check with the Michigan Economic Development Corp as well, he suggested.

          Dempsey warned marketers to inform the PSC before they read in the paper about any adverse events impacting their companies.

          Dot your I's and cross your T's when you apply for a retail marketer's license in Ohio, Steven Sherman, an attorney at Krieg DeVault, advised.

          The opportunity now is in gas sales -- not power, he noted.

          The PUC's application requires 60-200 pages of information and documents and they have to be identified and numbered correctly, he said.

          It takes a while to fill out, he warned.

          Marketers selling in Ohio have to have an office in the state.

          Applicants should make contact with the Office of Consumers' Counsel before they file and put her on the service list.

          She's likely to ask questions, he predicted.

          Licenses expire after two years and have to be renewed six months in advance.

          New York is a hot market but has unique rules, Lisa Bradley of Hiscock & Barclay told attendees.

          The PSC's policy statement in August 2004 favored utilities' exit from the merchant function but comes with marketers taking over customer care, she noted.

          She warned marketers to be aware of their responsibilities under the Home Energy Fair Practices Act and the state's constitutional obligation to the needy.

          New York tends to layer rules on top of federal statutes governing business practices, she warned.

          New York's demand reduction programs provide another service marketers can offer their customers, she added.

          Despite recent political turmoil, Maryland's market has a year of breathing room until the Legislature meets again, noted Joelle Ogg of Brunenkant & Cross.

          That makes it a good time to enter the Maryland market, she advised.

          Maryland rules don't require marketers to open an office in the state, she said.

          But marketers should stick to the rules about price disclosure. 

          The PSC is "very specific" about disclosing violations in other states, she said.

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