Slowly but surely, social media continues to make an appearance in state commission decisions. Since I issued my first summary of social media sitings back in January 2012, a few others have emerged. Here’s a quick update.
Company found jurisdictional through Facebook Many times companies, either by ignorance or design, fail to obtain necessary authorization from a state commission to lawfully engage in business. Though once difficult to track these unlicensed companies, that task may now be easier with social media platforms like Facebook. In a recent Colorado PUC Decision (2012 Colo. PUC LEXIS 220), a party bus company that provides transportation to concerts was was required to pay a fine for unlawfully providing transportation as a motor carrier without Commission authority. Evidence of the bus company’s intent to hold itself out as a public carrier included its Facebook page, where it advertised its services.
Education on Dynamic Pricing
Use of social media to educate customers about utility smart grid or green energy programs is pretty much de rigger. In a January 2012 decision, the Delaware Commission acknowledged the role that social media plays along with other more conventional means of disseminating information. From the order, here’s a description of Delmarva’s program to raise awareness of, and gain buy-in for, dynamic pricing:
Delmarva will expand its education efforts in 2013 to all residential customers, using direct communications, mass and social media, service agencies, special interest groups, faith-based organizations and non-English speaking advocacy groups for face-to-face outreach; Delmarva believes this will enable it to more effectively educate customers belonging to distinct marketing segments such as low income, seniors, and ethnic groups. Ex. 5 at 2-3, 5. In 2014, when Delmarva will move all SOS customers to dynamic pricing, it expects its education methods primarily to include direct mail, direct customer contact and social media.
Social Media is an alternative for alternative vehicles
In this recent Indiana decision, the Commission approved a utility’s plan to use social media to assist customers in making informed choices about alternative fuel vehicles. What’s a little different, however, is that the utility plans to use social media not just to promote its program, but to monitor its effectiveness and gather stakeholder feedback.