Bill Text: CA SB1266 | 2019-2020 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Gas service: core transport agents: minimum standards applicable to core customers.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-03-25 - From committee with author's amendments. Read second time and amended. Re-referred to Com. on RLS. [SB1266 Detail]

Download: California-2019-SB1266-Amended.html

Amended  IN  Senate  March 25, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 1266


Introduced by Senator Hueso

February 21, 2020


An act to amend Section 985 of of, and to add Section 986.5 to, the Public Utilities Code, relating to natural gas.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1266, as amended, Hueso. Gas service: core transport agents: minimum standards applicable to core customers.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including gas corporations, while a public entity offering gas service is under the direction of its governing board. Existing law requires the commission to require each gas corporation to provide bundled basic gas service, as defined, to all core customers in its service territory unless the customer chooses or contracts to have natural gas purchased and supplied by another entity. Existing law establishes certain minimum standards for a gas corporation and a public entity offering gas service to core customers, including standards for physical disconnections and reconnections of core customers to the gas transmission or distribution grid. entity, including a core transport agent, as defined. Existing law requires a core transport agent to register with the commission and provide certain notices and disclosures to customers to whom it offers gas service.

This bill would make nonsubstantive revisions to the minimum standards for physical disconnections and reconnections of core customers to the gas transmission or distribution grid.

Under existing law, a violation of the Public Utilities Act or any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.
This bill would require the commission to adopt minimum standards relating to marketing and sales agents for core transport agents, as provided. The bill would require a core transport agent to disclose to a customer specified information relating to the price it offers for gas service. Because these provisions would be within the Public Utilities Act and would require action by the commission, a violation of which would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NOYES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 985 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

985.
 Rules that implement the following minimum standards shall be adopted by the commission for core transport agents offering gas services to core gas customers and the governing body of a public agency offering gas services to core gas customers within its jurisdiction:
(a) Confidentiality. Customer information shall be confidential unless the customer consents in writing. This shall encompass confidentiality of customer-specific billing, credit, or usage information. This requirement shall not extend to disclosure of generic information regarding the usage, load shape, or other general characteristics of a group or rate classification, unless the release of that information would reveal customer-specific information because of the size of the group, rate classification, or nature of the information.
(b) Physical disconnects and reconnects. Only a gas corporation, or a publicly owned gas utility, that provides physical delivery service to the affected customer shall have the authority to physically disconnect or reconnect a customer from the transmission or distribution grid. Physical disconnection by a gas corporation subject to the commission’s jurisdiction shall occur only in accordance with protocols established by the commission. Physical disconnection by a publicly owned gas utility shall occur only in accordance with protocols established by the governing board of that local publicly owned gas utility.
(c) Change in providers. Upon adequate notice supplied by a core transport agent to the gas corporation or local publicly owned gas utility providing physical delivery service, customers who are eligible for core transport service may change their energy supplier. Energy suppliers may charge for this change, provided that any fee or penalty charged by the supplier associated with early termination of service, shall be disclosed in that contract or applicable tariff.
(d) Written notices. Notices describing the terms and conditions of service as described in Section 986, service agreements, notices of late payment, notices of discontinuance of service, and disconnection notices addressed to core gas customers shall be easily understandable and shall be provided in the language in which the core transport agent offered the services.
(e) Billing. All bills shall have a standard bill format, as determined by the commission or the governing body, and shall contain sufficient detail for the customer to recalculate the bill for accuracy. Any late fees shall be separately stated. A core transport agent shall provide on all customer bills a telephone number by which customers may contact the core transport agent to report and resolve billing inquiries and complaints. A core transport agent contacted by a customer regarding a billing dispute shall advise the customer at the time of the initial contact that the customer may file a complaint with the commission if the customer’s dispute is not satisfactorily resolved by the core transport agent.
(f) Meter integrity. A gas customer shall have a reasonable opportunity to have his or her the customer’s meter tested to ensure the reasonable accuracy of the meter. The commission or governing body shall determine who is responsible for the cost of that testing.
(g) Customer deposits. Core transport agents may require customer deposits before commencing service, but in no event shall the deposit be more than the estimated bill for the customer for a three-month period.
(h) (1) Marketing or sales agents. For purposes of this subdivision, a “marketing or sales agent” is a person who conducts marketing or sales activities, or both, on behalf of a core transport agent, and may include an employee, independent contractor, vendor, or subcontractor.
(2) A marketing or sales agent shall do both of the following:
(A) Wear an identification badge that clearly states the marketing or sales agent’s name, company name, company logo, and a customer service telephone number.
(B) Identify to the customer the name of the core transport agent the marketing or sales agent represents and disclose to the customer that the core transport agent is independent of the gas corporation or local publicly owned gas utility providing distribution service.
(3) A marketing or sales agent shall not do any of the following:
(A) Mislead a customer or potential customer to believe, or misrepresent to a customer or potential customer, that the agent has an affiliation or relationship that does not exist with a gas corporation or local publicly owned gas utility.
(B) Mislead a customer or potential customer to believe, or misrepresent to a customer or potential customer, that the customer or potential customer is required to obtain gas service from a core transport agent.
(C) Require a potential customer to disclose the customer’s current or past utility bills.

(h)

(i) Additional protections. The commission or the governing body may adopt additional core gas consumer protection standards that are in the public interest.

SEC. 2.

 Section 986.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

986.5.
 A core transport agent offering gas service to core gas customers shall disclose all of the following to a customer:
(a) At least once every six months, the price of gas service charged by the core transport agent and the difference between that price and the price of gas service charged by any other retail seller of natural gas from which the customer could have received gas service during the same time period.
(b) The amount of money the customer would save, expressed in any manner, if the customer receives gas service from the core transport agent or any retail seller from which the customer could have received gas service during the same time period.
(c) If the core transport agent offers a temporary or trial price for a customer, the price the customer will be required to pay after the conclusion of the temporary or trial period. A disclosure made pursuant to this subdivision shall be made no less than 60 days before the conclusion of the temporary or trial period.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
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