Chapter 4.7. Core Transport Agent of California Public Utilities Code >> Division 1. >> Part 1. >> Chapter 4.7.
As used in this chapter, the following terms mean the
(a) "Core gas customer" has the same meaning as that specified in
the tariff of the gas corporation whose territory the customer in
question lies within. A core small commercial customer account that
is associated with and part of the same business operation as a
noncore large commercial customer account is not a "core gas customer"
for purposes of this chapter.
(b) "Core transport agent" means an entity that offers core gas
procurement service to customers within the service territory of a
gas corporation, but does not include a gas corporation, and does not
include a public agency that offers gas service to core and noncore
gas customers within its jurisdiction, or within the service
territory of a local publicly owned gas utility. "Core transport
agent" includes the unregulated affiliates and subsidiaries of a gas
(c) "Gas corporation" has the same meaning as that set forth in
(a) A core transport agent shall register with the commission
within 90 days after the commission has adopted standards for
financial viability, and technical and operational capacity. As a
precondition to registration, the core transport agent shall provide,
under oath, declaration, or affidavit, all of the following to the
(1) Legal name and any other names under which the core transport
agent is doing business in California.
(2) Current telephone number.
(3) Current address.
(4) Agent for service of process.
(5) State and date of incorporation, if any.
(6) Number for a customer contact representative, or other
personnel for receiving customer inquiries.
(7) Brief description of the nature of the service being provided.
(8) Disclosure of any civil, criminal, or regulatory sanctions or
penalties imposed within the 10 years immediately prior to
registration, against the company or any owner, partner, officer, or
director of the company pursuant to any state or federal consumer
protection law or regulation, and of any felony convictions of any
kind against the company or any owner, partner, officer, or director
of the company. In addition, a core transport agent shall furnish the
commission with fingerprints for those owners, partners, officers,
and managers of the core transport agent specified by any commission
decision applicable to all core transport agents. The commission
shall submit completed fingerprint cards to the Department of
Justice. Those fingerprints shall be available for use by the
Department of Justice and the Department of Justice may transmit the
fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national
criminal history record check. The commission may use information
obtained from a national criminal history record check conducted
pursuant to this section to determine a core transport agent's
eligibility for registration.
(9) Proof of financial viability. The commission shall develop
uniform standards for determining financial viability and shall
publish those standards for public comment no later than June 30,
2014. In determining the financial viability of the core transport
agent, the commission shall take into account the number of customers
the potential registrant expects to serve, the number of therms of
gas it expects to provide, and any other appropriate criteria to
ensure that core gas customers have adequate recourse in the event of
fraud or nonperformance.
(10) Proof of technical and operational ability. The commission
shall develop uniform standards for determining technical and
operational capacity and shall publish those standards for public
comment no later than June 30, 2014.
(11) A statement stating the following:
"Neither the applicant, any of its affiliates, officers,
directors, partners, agents, or owners (directly or indirectly) with
more than 10 percent interest in the applicant, or anyone acting in a
management capacity for applicant has: (A) held one of those
positions with a company that filed for bankruptcy, (B) been
personally found liable, or held one of those positions with a
company that has been found liable, for fraud, dishonesty, failure to
disclose, or misrepresentations to consumers or others, (C) been
convicted of a felony, (D) been (to his or her knowledge) the subject
of a criminal referral by a judge or public agency, (E) had a
license of operating authority denied, suspended, revoked, or limited
in any jurisdiction, (F) personally entered into a settlement, or
held one of those positions with a company that has entered into
settlement, of criminal or civil claims involving violations of
Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 17000) of Part 2 of, or Part 3
(commencing with Section 17500) of Division 7 of, the Business and
Professions Code or of any other statute, regulation, or decisional
law relating to fraud, dishonesty, failure to disclosure, or
misrepresentations to consumers or others, (G) been found to have
violated any statute, law, or rule pertaining to public utilities or
other regulated industries, or (H) entered into any settlements or
agreements, made any voluntary payments, or agreed to any other type
of monetary forfeitures in resolution of any action by any regulatory
body, agency, or attorney general."
(b) Before reentering the market, a core transport agent whose
registration has been revoked shall file a formal application with
the commission that satisfies the requirements set forth in Section
982 and demonstrates the fitness and ability of the core transport
agent to comply with all applicable rules of the commission.
(c) Registration with the commission is an exercise of the
licensing function of the commission, and does not constitute
regulation of the rates or terms and conditions of service offered by
core transport agents. This part does not authorize the commission
to regulate the rates or terms and conditions of service offered by
core transport agents.
(a) The registration shall be deemed approved and a
registration number issued no later than 45 days after the required
information has been submitted, unless the commission's executive
director finds, upon review of the information submitted by the core
transport agent or available to the commission, that there is
evidence to support a finding that the core transport agent has
committed an act constituting grounds for denial of registration as
specifically set forth in the operative provisions of this chapter,
including, but not limited to, subdivision (c).
(b) Upon a finding by the commission's executive director that
there is evidence to support a finding that the core transport agent
has committed an act constituting grounds for denial of registration
as set forth in this section, the commission shall notify the core
transport agent in writing, cause the documents submitted by the core
transport agent to be filed as a formal application for
registration, and notice an expedited hearing on the registration of
the core transport agent to be held within 30 days of the
notification to the core transport agent of the executive director's
finding of evidence to support denial of registration. The commission
shall, within 45 days after holding the hearing, issue a decision on
the registration request which shall be based on the findings of
fact and conclusions of law based on the evidence presented at the
hearing. The decision shall include the findings of fact and the
conclusions of law relied upon.
(c) (1) The commission may deny an application for registration in
accordance with subdivision (b) on the grounds that the core
transport agent or any officer or director of the core transport
agent has one or more of the following:
(A) Been convicted of a crime as described in paragraph (8) of
subdivision (a) of Section 981.
(B) Failure to make a sufficient showing with respect to
paragraphs (1) to (10), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 981.
(C) Knowingly made a false statement of fact in the application
(2) The commission may deny registration pursuant to this
subdivision only if the crime or act is substantially related to the
qualifications, functions, or duties required to provide gas service
to end use customers of gas or the false statement is material to the
registration application. For purposes of this subdivision,
conviction of a crime shall be established in the same manner as that
set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 480 of the
Business and Professions Code.
(d) The commission shall require core transport agents registered
under this section to update their registration information set forth
in paragraphs (1) to (10), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section
981 within 60 days of any material change in the information
provided. Material changes to any other information required pursuant
to this article shall be updated annually.
(a) The commission shall accept, compile, and attempt to
informally resolve consumer complaints regarding core transport
agents. If the commission reasonably suspects a pattern of customer
abuses, the commission may, on its own motion, initiate
investigations into the activities of a core transport agent offering
gas service. Consumer complaints regarding service by a public
agency offering gas service within the political boundary of the
public agency or service territory of a local publicly owned gas
utility shall continue to be resolved by the public agency. Within
the service territory of a local publicly owned utility, consumer
complaints arising from the violation of core transport service rules
adopted by the governing body of the local publicly owned utility
shall be resolved through the local publicly owned utility's consumer
(b) Notwithstanding other provisions, core gas customers shall
have the option to proceed with a complaint against a core transport
agent either through an action filed in the judicial court system or
through a complaint filed with the commission. A customer who elects
either the judicial or commission remedies may not raise the same
claim in both forums. The commission shall have the authority to
accept, compile, and resolve core gas consumer complaints, including
the authority to award reparations. The commission's authority in
these complaint proceedings is limited to adjudication of complaints
regarding core gas service provided by a core transport agent and
shall not be expanded to include an award of any damages through
regulation of the rates or charges of the core transport agent.
However, a person or core transport agent that takes a conflict to
the commission shall not be precluded from pursuing an appeal of the
decision through the courts as provided for by law.
(c) In connection with customer complaints or commission
investigations into customer abuses, core transport agents shall
provide the commission access to their accounts, books, papers, and
documents related to California transactions as described in Sections
313 and 314, if the information is relevant to the complaint or
(d) A core transport agent shall not discontinue service to a
customer for a disputed amount if that customer has filed a complaint
that is pending with the commission, and that customer has paid the
disputed amount into an escrow account.
(a) (1) The commission may enforce Sections 2102, 2103,
2104, 2105, 2107, 2108, and 2114 against a core transport agent as if
the core transport agent is a public utility for purposes of those
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), this section does not grant
the commission jurisdiction to regulate core transport agents other
than as specifically set forth in this chapter. Core transport agents
shall continue to be subject to Sections 2111 and 2112.
(3) Upon a finding by the commission's executive director that
there is evidence to support a finding that the core transport agent
has committed an act constituting grounds for suspension or
revocation of registration as set forth in subdivision (b), the
commission shall notify the core transport agent in writing and
notice an expedited hearing on the suspension or revocation of the
core transport agent's registration to be held within 30 days of the
notification to the core transport agent of the executive director's
finding of evidence to support suspension or revocation of
registration. The commission shall, within 45 days after holding the
hearing, issue a decision on the suspension or revocation of
registration, which shall be based on findings of fact and
conclusions of law based on the evidence presented at the hearing.
The decision shall include the findings of fact and the conclusions
of law relied upon.
(b) A core transport agent may have its registration suspended or
revoked, immediately or prospectively, in whole or in part, for any
of the following acts:
(1) Making material misrepresentations in the course of soliciting
customers, entering into service agreements with those customers, or
administering those service agreements.
(2) Dishonesty, fraud, or deceit with the intent to substantially
benefit the core transport agent or its employees, agents, or
representatives, or to disadvantage retail gas customers.
(3) If the commission finds that there is evidence that the core
transport agent is not financially or operationally capable of
providing the offered gas service.
(4) The misrepresentation of a material fact by an applicant in
obtaining a registration pursuant to Section 981.
(c) Pursuant to its authority to revoke or suspend registration,
the commission may suspend a registration for a specified period or
revoke the registration, or in lieu of suspension or revocation,
impose a moratorium on adding or soliciting additional customers. Any
suspension or revocation of a registration shall require the core
transport agent to cease serving customers within the boundaries of
investor-owned gas corporations, and the affected customers shall be
served by the gas corporation until the time when they may select
service from another core transport agent. A customer shall not be
liable for the payment of any early termination fees or other
penalties to any core transport agent under the service agreement if
the serving core transport agent's registration is suspended or
(d) If a customer of a core transport agent is involuntarily
returned to service provided by a gas corporation, any reentry fee
imposed on that customer that the commission deems is necessary to
avoid imposing costs on other customers of the gas corporation shall
be the obligation of the core transport agent, except in the case of
a customer returned due to default in payment or other contractual
obligations or because the customer's contract has expired. As a
condition of its registration, a core transport agent shall post a
bond or demonstrate insurance sufficient to cover those reentry fees,
including reentry fees for customers returned in the event of the
core transport agent becoming insolvent.
If a customer files a claim with a gas corporation for
damages to property resulting from the curtailment of gas service due
to the failure of the gas corporation to reasonably provide service
or restore service within a reasonable time after a fire, flood,
earthquake, other natural disaster, or act of God, the gas
corporation shall inform the customer that the claim may be pursued
in small claims court or other judicial courts, depending on the
amount of the claim.
In order to carry out essential elements of a sustainable and
effective consumer protection program in connection with core
transport agents offering gas service to core gas customers as
intended by the Legislature in this chapter, the following shall
(a) A registration fee of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be
collected from a core transport agent required to register under this
chapter and the fee proceeds shall be deposited in the Public
Utilities Reimbursement Account established under Section 402. The
commission may adjust the fee as necessary to recover the cost of
administering the program.
(b) The commission shall annually determine the costs of
administering the registration program and other facets of consumer
protection directly related to the core transport service
transactions of core transport agents, including the cost for the
duties imposed pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 984.5. The
commission shall only collect those costs not already being collected
elsewhere. Registrants who fail to submit to the commission required
fees or information upon which fees are calculated within 30 days of
billing shall be subject to a 15-percent penalty.
(a) The commission shall compile and regularly update the
following information: names and contact numbers of a registered core
transport agent, information to assist consumers in making service
choices, and the number of customer complaints against specific
providers in relation to the number of customers served by those
providers and the disposition of those complaints. To facilitate this
function, registered entities shall file with the commission
information describing the terms and conditions of any standard
service plan made available to core gas customers. The commission
shall adopt a standard format for this filing. The commission shall
maintain and make generally available a list of entities offering
core transport services operating in California. This list shall
include all registered core transport agents and those agents not
required to be registered that request the commission to be included
on the list. The commission shall, upon request, make this
information available at no charge. Notwithstanding any other law,
public agencies that are registered entities shall be required to
disclose their terms and conditions of service contracts only to the
same extent that other registered entities would be required to
disclose the same or similar service contracts.
(b) The commission shall issue public alerts about companies
attempting to provide core transport service in the state in an
unauthorized or fraudulent manner as described in subdivision (b) of
(c) The commission shall compile and post on its Internet Web site
easily understandable informational guides or other tools to help
core gas customers understand core transport service options. In
implementing these provisions, the commission shall pay special
attention to ensuring that customers, especially those with
limited-English-speaking ability or other disadvantages when dealing
with marketers, receive correct, reliable, and easily understood
information to help them make informed choices. The commission shall
not make specific recommendations, rank the relative attractiveness
of specific service offerings of registered providers of core
transport services, or provide customer-specific assistance in the
evaluation of core transport agents.
(d) The Office of Ratepayer Advocates shall analyze customers'
complaints submitted to the gas corporation and to the commission and
the disposition of those complaints to determine if the changes in
the consumer protection rules are necessary to better protect the
participants in the core transportation program, and make
recommendations to the commission regarding those rule changes.
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
(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 gas corporations
subject to the commission's jurisdiction shall occur only in
accordance with protocols established by the commission. Physical
disconnection by publicly owned gas utilities shall occur only in
accordance with protocols established by the governing board of the
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 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
(h) Additional protections. The commission or the governing body
may adopt additional core gas consumer protection standards that are
in the public interest.
(a) Except for a gas corporation, or a local publicly owned
gas utility offering gas service to core gas customers within its
service territory, a core transport agent offering gas service to
core gas customers shall, prior to the commencement of service,
provide the potential customer with a written notice of the service
describing the price, terms, and conditions of the service. The
notices shall include all of the following:
(1) A clear description of the price, terms, and conditions of
service, including all of the following:
(A) The price of gas expressed in a format that makes it possible
for core gas customers to compare and select among similar products
and services on a standard basis. The commission shall adopt rules to
implement this subdivision. The commission shall require disclosure
of the total price of gas on a cents-per-therm basis, including the
costs of all gas services and charges regulated by the commission.
The commission shall also require estimates of the total monthly bill
for the gas service at varying consumption levels, including the
costs of all gas services and charges regulated by the commission. In
determining these rules, the commission may consider alternatives to
the cents-per-therm disclosure if other information would provide
the customer with sufficient information to compare among
alternatives on a standard basis.
(B) Separate disclosure of all recurring and nonrecurring charges
associated with the sale of gas.
(C) If services other than gas are offered, an itemization of the
services and the charge or charges associated with each.
(2) A description of the potential customer's right to rescind the
contract without fee or penalty as described in Section 989.1.
(3) An explanation of the customer's financial obligations, as
well as the procedures regarding past due payments, discontinuance of
service, billing disputes, and service complaints.
(4) The core transport agent's registration number, if applicable.
(5) The right to change service providers upon written notice,
including disclosure of any fees or penalties assessed by the
supplier for early termination of a contract.
(6) A description of the availability of low-income assistance
programs for qualified customers and how customers can apply for
(b) The commission may assist core transport agents in developing
the notice. The commission may suggest inclusion of additional
information it deems necessary for the consumer protection purposes
of this section. On at least a semiannual basis, a core transport
agent shall provide the commission with a copy of the form of notice
included in its standard service plans made available to core gas
customers as described in subdivision (a) of Section 984.5.
(c) Any core transport agent offering gas services who declines to
provide those services to a consumer shall, upon request of the
consumer, disclose to that consumer the reason for the denial in
writing within 30 days. At the time service is denied, the core
transport agent shall disclose to the consumer his or her right to
make this request. Consumers shall have at least 30 days from the
date service is denied to make the request.
(a) The commission shall maintain a list of core gas customers
who do not wish to be solicited by telephone, by a gas corporation,
marketer, broker, or aggregator for gas service, to subscribe to or
change their core transport agent. The commission shall not assess a
charge for inclusion of a customer on the list. The list shall be
updated periodically, but no less than quarterly.
(b) The list shall include sufficient information for gas
corporations, marketers, brokers, or aggregators of gas service to
identify customers who do not wish to be solicited, including a
customer's address and telephone number. The list shall be made
accessible electronically from the commission to any party regulated
as a gas corporation or registered with the commission as an electric
marketer, broker, or aggregator of gas service.
(c) A gas corporation, marketer, broker, or aggregator of gas
service shall not solicit, by telephone, any customer on the list
prepared pursuant to subdivision (a). Any gas corporation, marketer,
broker, or aggregator of gas service, or the representative of a gas
corporation, marketer, broker, or aggregator of gas service, who
solicits any customer on the list prepared pursuant to subdivision
(a) more than once shall be liable to the customer for twenty-five
dollars ($25) for each contact in violation of this subdivision.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter,
requirements placed on a core transport agent shall not apply to gas
services provided by a local publicly owned gas utility to customers
within the jurisdiction or service territory of that local publicly
owned gas utility.
Unclaimed refunds ordered by the commission, and any accrued
interest, may be used by the commission to fund additional consumer
(a) In addition to any other right to revoke an offer, core
gas customers of gas service, have the right to cancel a contract for
gas service until midnight of the third business day after the day
on which the buyer signs an agreement or offer to purchase.
(b) Cancellation occurs when the buyer gives written notice of
cancellation to the seller at the address specified in the agreement
(c) Notice of cancellation, if given by mail, is effective when
deposited in the mail properly addressed with postage prepaid.
(d) Notice of cancellation given by the buyer need not take the
particular form as provided with the contract or offer to purchase
and, however expressed, is effective if it indicates the intention of
the buyer not to be bound by the contract.
(a) A consumer damaged by a violation of this chapter by a
core transport agent is entitled to recover all of the following:
(1) Actual damages.
(2) The consumer's reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.
(3) Exemplary damages, in the amount the court deems proper, for
intentional or willful violations.
(4) Equitable relief as the court deems proper.
(b) The rights, remedies, and penalties established by this
chapter are in addition to the rights, remedies, or penalties
established under any other law.
(c) This chapter does not abrogate any authority of the Attorney
General to enforce existing law.