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SB-656 Electrical restructuring: natural gas restructuring: information practices.(2013-2014)

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SB656:v91#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 656
CHAPTER 604

An act to amend Sections 392.1, 394.3, and 394.5 of, and to add Chapter 4.7 (commencing with Section 980) to Part 1 of Division 1 of, the Public Utilities Code, relating to energy.

[ Approved by Governor  October 05, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State  October 05, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 656, Wright. Electrical restructuring: natural gas restructuring: information practices.
(1) Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has broad regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations and gas corporations, as defined. Existing law restructuring the electrical industry requires the commission to authorize and facilitate direct transactions between electricity suppliers and end-use customers subject to the implementation of a nonbypassable charge, as specified. Electrical restructuring requires electric service providers, which are entities that offer electrical service to customers within the service territory of an electrical corporation but which are not electrical corporations, to register with the commission and to disclose specified information, among other things and authorizes the commission to enforce specific statutes with respect to electric service providers, but does not grant the commission jurisdiction to regulate electric service providers other than as specified.
Existing law restructuring the electrical industry requires the commission to compile and regularly update information regarding registered electric service providers, including the names and contact numbers of providers, information to assist consumers in making service choices, 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. In this regard, existing law requires the commission to direct the Division of Ratepayer Advocates to collect and analyze this information for purposes of preparing easily understandable informational guides or other tools to help residential and small commercial customers understand how to evaluate competing electric service options.
This bill would, except for the compilation and updating of the names and contact numbers of providers, make inoperative the above provisions, except for those times in which providers are authorized to offer service to residential customers and enrollment increases at a specified level, and would make conforming changes in related provisions. The bill would repeal the requirement related to the informational guides.
(2) Existing law relative to the restructuring of the natural gas industry 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. The Public Utilities Act establishes various consumer protection provisions relative to electrical restructuring, including the requirement that each entity, other than an electrical corporation, offering electrical service to residential and small commercial customers within the service territory of an electrical corporation register with the commission and provide specified information to the commission. A violation of the act is a crime.
This bill would extend certain consumer protection provisions that are applicable to electrical restructuring to aspects of natural gas restructuring, including the requirement to register with, and provide specified information to the commission, to a core transport agent, as defined, offering gas service to customers within the service territory of a gas corporation. Because a violation of these provisions would be a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(3) 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: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 392.1 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

392.1.
 (a) The commission shall compile and regularly update the names and contact numbers of registered providers.
(b) (1) The commission shall also compile and regularly update 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 residential and small commercial customers. The commission shall adopt a standard format for this filing. The commission shall maintain and make generally available a list of entities offering electrical services operating in California. This list shall include all registered providers and those providers not required to be registered who request the commission to be included in the list. The commission shall, upon request, make this information available at no charge. Notwithstanding any other provision of 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.
(2) The commission shall issue public alerts about companies attempting to provide electric service in the state in an unauthorized or fraudulent manner as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 394.25.
(3) (A) This subdivision is inoperative except for time periods in which providers are authorized to offer service to residential customers and the combined enrollments in competitive retail electric service in the service territories of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company, and San Diego Gas and Electric Company increase at a rate of more than 5 percent per month.
(B) The commission shall notify, in writing, the Secretary of State at the beginning and end of any time period described in subparagraph (A).

SEC. 2.

 Section 394.3 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

394.3.
 To carry out essential elements of a sustainable and effective consumer protection program in connection with electric service providers offering electrical service to residential and small commercial customers as intended by the Legislature in this article, the following shall apply:
(a) The commission shall collect a registration fee of one hundred dollars ($100) from electric service providers required to register under this article, and deposit the fee proceeds in the Public Utilities Reimbursement Account established under Section 402.
(b) The commission shall annually determine the costs of administering the registration program and other facets of consumer protection directly related to the direct access transactions of electric service providers. The commission shall collect only those costs not already being collected elsewhere. A registrant who fails to submit to the commission a required fee or a piece of information upon which fees are calculated within 30 days of billing shall be subject to a 15-percent penalty.

SEC. 3.

 Section 394.5 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

394.5.
 (a) Except for an electrical corporation as defined in Section 218, or a local publicly owned electric utility offering electrical service to residential and small commercial customers within its service territory, each electric service provider offering electrical service to residential and small commercial 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. A notice shall include all of the following:
(1) A clear description of the price, terms, and conditions of service, including:
(A) The price of electricity expressed in a format that makes it possible for residential and small commercial 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 electricity on a cents-per-kilowatthour basis, including the costs of all electric services and charges regulated by the commission. The commission shall also require estimates of the total monthly bill for the electric service at varying consumption levels, including the costs of all electric services and charges regulated by the commission. In determining these rules, the commission may consider alternatives to the cents-per-kilowatthour 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 electricity.
(C) If services other than electricity are offered, an itemization of the services and the charge or charges associated with each.
(2) An explanation of the applicability and amount of the competition transition charge, as determined pursuant to Sections 367 to 376, inclusive.
(3) A description of the potential customer’s right to rescind the contract without fee or penalty as described in Section 395.
(4) 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.
(5) The electric service provider’s registration number, if applicable.
(6) 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.
(7) A description of the availability of low-income assistance programs for qualified customers and how customers can apply for these programs.
(b) The commission may assist electric service providers 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, electric service providers shall provide the commission with a copy of the form of notice included in standard service plans made available to residential and small commercial customers.
(c) An electric service provider offering electric 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 electric service provider shall disclose to the consumer the right to make this request. A consumer shall have at least 30 days from the date service is denied to make the request.

SEC. 4.

 Chapter 4.7 (commencing with Section 980) is added to Part 1 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code, to read:
CHAPTER  4.7. Core Transport Agent

980.
 As used in this chapter, the following terms mean the following:
(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 corporation.
(c) “Gas corporation” has the same meaning as that set forth in Section 222.

981.
 (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 commission:
(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.

982.
 (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 for registration.
(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.

983.
 (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 complaint procedures.
(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 investigation.
(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.

983.5.
 (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 sections.
(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 revoked.
(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.

983.7.
 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.

984.
 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 apply:
(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.

984.5.
 (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 defined in subdivision (b) of Section 983.5.
(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 Division 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 recommendation to the commission regarding those rule changes.

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

986.
 (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 these programs.
(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.

987.
 (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 at 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.

988.
 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.

989.
 Unclaimed refunds ordered by the commission, and any accrued interest, may be used by the commission to fund additional consumer protection efforts.

989.1.
 (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 or offer.
(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.

989.5.
 (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.

SEC. 5.

 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.