Enbridge Consults Billers on Open Bill Wind-Down Process
Late in May, Enbridge Gas Inc. (Enbridge) announced its intention to wind down its open bill program, effective December 31, 2023. The company declared that the long-standing service is “no longer consistent with the utility’s strategic direction.”
Along with affected companies who have been using the program over the past years (about 30 of the 97 billers are HRAI members), HRAI has been participating in Enbridge’s consultations on the matter. During the three consultation sessions held so far, Enbridge has made a number of concessions to its original plan, in efforts to make the transition process as smooth as possible for billers and their customers. For example, initially the utility set a date of July 2022 as a deadline for adding new customers. At the urging of billers, Enbridge extended the deadline to the end to November, 2023.
All of the companies that HRAI has connected with on this matter have agreed that clear, effective and consistent customer communication will be key to a smooth transition and that Enbridge should be the lead on messaging, if only to support what customers would be hearing directly from billers. Enbridge has agreed to create special messaging on its website and committed to an ongoing process that would over- rather than under-communicate the key messages. It seems that most billers are satisfied with this approach but key details of the plan remain to be seen.
The only remaining concern of note appears to be around transfers of certain types of customer data. Enbridge indicated it has legal concerns about transferring certain types of customer data (e.g. PAP) over to billers and, even if customer permissions were obtained, the utility might still have concerns about doing so. This issue appears to affect some billers more than others and will probably remain a point of discussion as the wind-down proceeds. While the official consultation period has ended, Enbridge has remained open to inputs from affected billers and stakeholders.
For more information, contact Chelsea Goberdhan at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 236, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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