§ 46-4-160. Commission's authority over certificated marketers; access to records; investigations and hearings; price summary; billing; violations; slamming.

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

§ 46-4-160. Commission's authority over certificated marketers; access to records; investigations and hearings; price summary; billing; violations; slamming

(a) With respect to a marketer certificated pursuant to Code Section 46-4-153, the commission shall have authority to:
(1) Adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the certification of a marketer;
(2) Grant, modify, impose conditions upon, or revoke a certificate;
(3) Adopt reasonable rules governing service quality. In promulgating consumer protection rules under this article, the commission shall, to the extent practicable, provide for rules with a self-executing mechanism to resolve such complaints in a timely manner. Such consumer protection rules shall encourage marketers to resolve complaints without recourse to the commission and shall expedite the handling of those complaints that do require action by the commission by providing for a minimum payment of $100.00 to the consumer, plus penalties and fines as determined by the commission, for violations of such rules;
(4) Resolve complaints against a marketer regarding that marketer's service;
(5) Adopt reasonable rules and regulations relating to billing practices of marketers and information required on customers' bills. The commission shall require at a minimum that bills specify the gas consumption amount, price per therm, distribution charges, and any service charges. The commission shall prescribe performance standards for marketer billing relating to accuracy and timeliness of customer bills;
(6) Adopt reasonable rules and regulations relating to minimum resources which marketers are required to have in this state for customer service purposes. The rules and regulations shall require a marketer to have and maintain the ability to process cash payments from customers in this state. The rules and regulations shall provide procedures relating to the handling and disposition of customer complaints; and
(7) Adopt reasonable rules and regulations requiring marketers to provide notification to retail customers of or include with customer bills information relating to where customers may obtain pricing information relative to gas marketers.
(b) Prior to the determination by the commission pursuant to Code Section 46-4-156 that adequate market conditions exist within a delivery group, each marketer must separately state on its bills to retail customers within the delivery group the charges for firm distribution service and for commodity sales.
(c) Except as otherwise provided by this article, the price at which a marketer sells gas shall not be regulated by the commission.
(d) The commission shall have access to the books and records of marketers as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this article and with the commission's rules and regulations promulgated under this article.
(e) Except as otherwise provided in this article, certification of a person as a marketer by the commission pursuant to Code Section 46-4-153 does not subject the person to the jurisdiction of the commission under this title, including without limitation the provisions of Article 2 of Chapter 2 of this title.
(f) The provisions of Article 3 of Chapter 2 of this title shall apply to an investigation or hearing regarding a marketer. The provisions of Articles 4 and 5 of Chapter 2 of this title shall apply to a marketer.
(g) The commission, subject to receiving state funds for such purpose, is required to have published at least quarterly in newspapers throughout the state a summary of the price per therm and any other amounts charged to retail customers by each marketer operating in this state and any additional information which the commission deems appropriate to assist customers in making decisions regarding choice of a marketer. In addition, the commission shall make such information available to Georgia Public Telecommunications (GPTV) under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission which will provide such information to the general public at a designated time at least once a month.
(h) A marketer shall render a bill to retail customers for services within 30 days of the date following the monthly meter reading. A marketer's bill shall utilize the results of the actual meter reading subject to paragraph (8) of Code Section 46-4-158.2. The price for natural gas billed to a natural gas consumer shall not exceed the marketer's published price effective at the beginning of the consumer's billing cycle. A marketer shall allow the natural gas consumer a reasonable period of time to pay the bill from the date the consumer receives the bill, prior to the application of any late fees or penalties. Marketers shall not impose unreasonable late fees or penalties and in no event shall any such fees or penalties exceed $10.00 or 1.5 percent of the past due balance, whichever is greater.
(i) Any marketer which willfully violates any provision of this Code section or any duly promulgated rules or regulations issued under this Code section, including but not limited to rules relating to false billing, or which fails, neglects, or refuses to comply with any order of the commission after notice thereof shall be liable for any penalties authorized under Code Section 46-2-91.
(j) As used in this subsection, the phrase "terms and conditions" does not include price. At least 30 days prior to the effective date of any changes in the terms and conditions for service authorized by the marketer's certificate of authority, a marketer shall file such changes with the commission. Such changes to the terms and conditions of service shall go into effect on the effective date proposed by the marketer; provided, however, that the commission shall be authorized to suspend the effective date of the proposed changes for up to 90 days if it appears to the commission that the proposed terms and conditions are unconscionable or are unfair, deceptive, misleading, or confusing to consumers. If the commission does not issue a final decision on the proposed terms and conditions of service within the 90 day suspension period, the proposed changes shall be deemed approved.
(k) Any consumer determined by the commission to be the victim of slamming shall be able to switch back to his or her desired marketer without any charge. No marketer responsible for slamming a consumer shall be entitled to any remuneration for services provided to that customer, and any refund owed to such a consumer by the marketer who switched the consumer without his or her consent shall be paid within 30 days of the date the commission determined the consumer was a victim of slamming. No marketer responsible for slamming a consumer who is determined to be a victim of slamming shall report to a credit reporting agency any moneys owed by such a consumer to such marketer; any marketer who violates the prohibition set out in this sentence shall be required by the commission to pay such a consumer $1,000.00 for each such prohibited report.

Cite as OCGA § 46-4-160

History. Amended by 2015 Ga. Laws 187, §40, eff. 7/1/2015.

Amended by 2002 Ga. Laws 499, §16, eff. 4/25/2002.

Amended by 2001 Ga. Laws 338, §3, eff. 4/27/2001.

Amended by 2001 Ga. Laws 369, §3, eff. 4/28/2001.