§ 46-4-156. Customer assignment methodology; commission determination of adequate market conditions and effect of such determination; lost and unaccounted for gas; notice to customers; petition proceedings; change of marketers; deposit.

CODE OF GEORGIA

Title 46. PUBLIC UTILITIES AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Chapter 4. DISTRIBUTION, STORAGE, AND SALE OF GAS

Article 5. NATURAL GAS COMPETITION AND DEREGULATION ACT

Current through 2019-2020 Chapter 609

§ 46-4-156. Customer assignment methodology; commission determination of adequate market conditions and effect of such determination; lost and unaccounted for gas; notice to customers; petition proceedings; change of marketers; deposit

(a) No later than December 31, 1997, the commission shall promulgate regulations which prescribe a methodology for the random assignment to each marketer certificated within a delivery group of each firm retail customer who has not contracted for distribution service from a marketer. This methodology shall further provide that the percentage of such firm retail customers assigned to a given marketer shall be based upon the percentage at the time of such assignment of all firm retail customers within the delivery group served by such marketer.
(b) Any person may file a petition requesting that the commission determine, or the commission on its own motion may determine, that adequate market conditions exist for a particular delivery group. If, after a proceeding on such petition or motion, the commission makes such a determination, the procedures that precede customer assignment shall begin. The commission shall enter a decision as to whether adequate market conditions exist within the earlier of 120 days after the close of the record in the proceeding on such petition or motion or 180 days from the filing of such petition or the making of such motion under this subsection. The commission shall determine that adequate market conditions exist within a specific delivery group based upon consideration of the following factors:
(1) The number and size of alternative providers of the distribution service;
(2) The extent to which the distribution service is available from alternative providers in the delivery group;
(3) Subject to subsection (d) of this Code section and provided that all initial assignments of rights to intrastate capacity for firm distribution service, interstate pipeline, and underground storage by an electing distribution company to marketers, as necessary for marketers to initiate service to all firm retail customers with which they have contracted or to which they have been assigned as provided for in this Code section, whether by allocation pursuant to a tariff approved under paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection (c) of Code Section 46-4-154 or by contract, are effective pursuant to the terms of such tariff or contract and, provided, further, that all initial assignments of rights under firm wellhead gas supply contracts by an electing distribution company to marketers, as necessary for marketers to initiate service to all firm retail customers with which they have contracted or to which they have been assigned as provided for in this Code section, by allocation pursuant to a tariff approved under Code Section 46-4-154 are effective pursuant to the terms of such tariff, an electing distribution company has no obligation to provide commodity sales service to retail customers.
(4) Other indicators of market power which may include market share, growth in market share, ease of entry, and the affiliation of providers of a distribution service.
(c) If the commission issues an order pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section determining that adequate market conditions exist, it shall prescribe in such order the contents of notices to be furnished pursuant to the provisions of subsection (e) of this Code section. Subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this Code section, on the one hundred twentieth day following the issuance of an order for a particular delivery group:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, the rates and terms of service of an electing distribution company for interruptible distribution service and balancing service shall not be subject to approval by the commission, provided that all firm retail customers have contracted with or have been assigned to marketers as provided for in this Code section;
(2) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, rates and terms of service for commodity sales service provided by an electing distribution company to retail purchasers of firm distribution service shall not be subject to approval by the commission, provided that all firm retail customers have contracted with or have been assigned to marketers as provided for in this Code section;
(3) Subject to subsection (d) of this Code section and provided that all initial assignments of rights to intrastate capacity for firm distribution service, interstate pipeline, and underground storage by an electing distribution company to marketers, as necessary for marketers to initiate service to all firm retail customers with which they have contracted or to which they have been assigned as provided for in this Code section, whether by allocation pursuant to a tariff approved under paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection (d) of Code Section 46-4-154 or by contract, are effective pursuant to the terms of such tariff or contract and, provided, further, that all initial assignments of rights under firm wellhead gas supply contracts by an electing distribution company to marketers, as necessary for marketers to initiate service to all firm retail customers with which they have contracted or to which they have been assigned as provided for in this Code section, by allocation pursuant to a tariff approved under Code Section 46-4-154 are effective pursuant to the terms of such tariff, an electing distribution company has no obligation to provide commodity sales service to retail customers; and
(4) The commission is authorized to provide by order, after notice and hearing, for the allocation of the cost of lost and unaccounted for gas among interruptible and firm retail customers.
(d) If the one hundred twentieth day following the issuance of such order falls during a winter heating season, the provisions of subsection (c) of this Code section and customer assignment shall become effective on the day following the end of the winter heating season.
(e) Within 45 days following the issuance of an order pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section, and again within 80 days following such an order, an electing distribution company shall send a notice regarding the commission's order to each of its retail customers receiving firm distribution service or commodity sales service within such delivery group. Such notices shall inform the retail customer in plain language that:
(1) The electing distribution company will not provide firm distribution service or commodity sales service to such customer, as of the date determined under subsection (c) or (d) of this Code section;
(2) Such customer may contract with a marketer certificated under Code Section 46-4-153 to furnish such services; and
(3) If the customer does not contract with a marketer within 100 days from the date of such order, the commission will assign, on a random basis, a marketer to furnish such services to said customer.
(f)
(1) At any time that the electing distribution company determines that any deadline or the expiration of any time period prescribed by this article may result in an adverse impact upon the overall effective implementation of this article, upon the emergence of effective competition, or upon the public interest, it may petition the commission to extend such deadline or period for a time certain.
(2) If, in response to such a petition or on its own motion, the commission finds that strict enforcement of any deadline or time period prescribed by this article may result in an adverse impact upon the overall effective implementation of this article, upon the emergence of effective competition, or upon the public interest, it may extend such deadline or period for any period of time up to or equal to the time extension requested in the petition or proposed in the motion.
(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, a consumer shall be authorized to change marketers at least once a year without incurring any service charge relating to such change to an alternative marketer. No marketer shall charge any consumer a service charge relating to a change to an alternative marketer if such consumer has not changed marketers within the previous 12 months. Except as otherwise provided in a legally binding contract between the marketer and the consumer, no marketer shall require a notice period from a consumer if a consumer elects to change service to an alternative marketer. The commission shall investigate methods to expedite the electing distribution company's processes for switching consumers to the consumers' preferred marketer and may enter appropriate orders to expedite switching consumers.
(h) A marketer may require a deposit, not to exceed $150.00, from a consumer prior to providing gas distribution service to such consumer. A marketer is not authorized to require an increase in the deposit of a consumer if such consumer has paid all bills from the marketer in a timely manner for a period of three months. A marketer shall refund to any consumer who is not currently delinquent on payments to the marketer any deposit amount exceeding $150.00 within 30 days following April 25, 2002. In any case where a marketer has required a deposit from a consumer and such consumer has paid all bills from the marketer in a timely manner for a period of six months, the marketer shall be required to refund the deposit to the consumer within 60 days. In any event, a deposit shall be refunded to a consumer within 60 days of the date that such consumer changes marketers or discontinues service, provided that such consumer has satisfied all of his or her outstanding financial obligations to the marketer.

Cite as OCGA § 46-4-156

History. Amended by 2002 Ga. Laws 499, §12, eff. 4/25/2002.

Amended by 2001 Ga. Laws 338, §1, eff. 4/27/2001.

Amended by 2001 Ga. Laws 369, §1, eff. 4/28/2001.