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AB-726 Electricity: natural gas: rates: notification of energy usage and billing information.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 05/02/2017 09:00 PM
AB726:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 02, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 06, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 15, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 726


Introduced by Assembly Member Holden

February 15, 2017


An act to add Section 745.5 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to energy.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 726, as amended, Holden. Electricity: natural gas: rates: notification of energy usage and billing information.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations and gas corporations. Existing law authorizes the commission to fix the rates and charges for every public utility and requires that those rates and charges be just and reasonable.
Existing law requires a provider of mobile telephony services, as defined, to provide subscribers with a means by which a subscriber can obtain reasonably current and available information on the subscriber’s calling plan or plans and service usage. Existing law additionally requires that a provider of mobile telephony services provide subscribers with a means by which a subscriber can obtain reasonably current and available information, as determined by the provider, on the subscriber’s text messaging and Internet usage and charges. A provider of mobile telephony service is required to inform subscribers to their service at the time service is established of the availability of this usage information and how it may be obtained.
This bill would require an electrical corporation or gas corporation to notify a residential customer with a smart meter in a reasonably expeditious manner when the customer’s usage of electricity or gas will cause the customer to be charged for additional electricity or gas consumption at a higher tiered rate during a billing cycle. period. If a residential customer with a smart meter does not receive service pursuant to tiered rates, the bill would require an electrical corporation or gas corporation that has historical electricity or gas usage information to notify the customer when that customer’s usage of energy significantly exceeds the customer’s historical energy usage and to further notify that customer as to how much the customer’s bill will be for that billing period if usage continues at that rate. For those residential customers with smart meters that do not receive service pursuant to tiered rates and for which historical usage information does not exist, the bill would require an electrical corporation or gas corporation to to, halfway through each billing period and until the utility has one year of usage data for the customer, notify the customer when the customer’s energy usage exceeds average usage for similarly situated residential customers by a percentage determined by the utility of his or her energy usage during the first half of that billing period and to notify the customer as to how much the customer’s bill will be for that billing period if usage continues at that rate. The bill would require an electrical corporation or gas corporation to offer the option to a residential customer with a smart meter to receive energy bill alert notifications when the customer’s energy bill exceeds an amount specified by the customer or when the customer’s rate of energy usage, if it continues through a billing cycle, period, will result in a periodic bill that exceeds an amount specified by the customer. The bill would require an electrical corporation or gas corporation to notify a residential customer with a smart meter that the customer may receive notification of the customer’s energy usage and billing information as required by the bill, the manner by which the customer can provide appropriate contact information to receive this information, and the customer’s opportunity to opt in or opt out of receiving this information. The bill would authorize the commission to modify or adjust these requirements for any electrical corporation with fewer than 100,000 service connections, as individual circumstances merit.
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.
Because the provisions of this bill would be a part of the act, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program by creating a new crime.
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 745.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

745.5.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Energy utility” means an electrical corporation, a gas corporation, or both an electrical corporation and a gas corporation.
(2) “Smart meter” means a meter that is capable of recording electricity or gas consumption at minimum daily intervals and that is capable of communicating the consumption information to the utility providing electric or gas service.
(3) “Tiered rate structure” means a rate structure based on usage where the customer pays more for each additional unit of electricity or gas used by that customer once a set level of usage has been reached, and a “tiered rate” is one of the unit prices in a tiered rate structure.
(b) (1) An energy utility shall provide energy usage or energy billing information to residential customers with a smart meter that promotes the customer’s ability to make informed energy usage decisions and to minimize the risk of a customer being unpleasantly surprised after-the-fact by the size of the customer’s energy bill during a billing cycle. period.
(2) The energy usage or energy billing notification requirements of this section apply to those residential customers of an energy utility that have smart meters.
(3) The energy usage or energy billing notification requirements of this section do not apply if the customer exercises the option to not receive electricity usage or billing information.
(c) Unless the customer has exercised the option to not receive notifications, a residential customer of an energy utility with a smart meter shall receive energy usage or energy billing notifications from the customer’s energy utility as follows:
(1) An energy utility shall notify a customer that receives electric or gas service pursuant to a tiered rate structure when the customer’s usage of electricity or gas approaches the level that will cause the customer to be charged for additional electricity or gas consumption at a higher tiered rate during a billing cycle. period. At a minimum, reasonably prompt notification shall be given before the customer begins to be charged rates based upon a higher tiered rate. If a customer is receiving service at more than two tiers, then the required notification applies to each tier above the baseline tier. The requirements of this subdivision do not apply if a residential customer of an electrical corporation receives service pursuant to time-variant pricing, as defined in Section 745, that does not include tiered usage levels. A customer that receives electric or gas service pursuant to a tiered rate structure may elect to instead receive historically excessive usage notifications pursuant to paragraph (2), excess of average partial billing period usage notifications pursuant to paragraph (3), or billing alert notifications pursuant to paragraph (4).
(2) For those customers that do not have tiered rates and for which an energy utility has sufficient historical electricity or gas usage information, the energy utility shall notify the customer when that customer’s usage of electricity or gas significantly exceeds the customer’s historical electricity or gas usage. The energy utility shall further notify that customer as to how much the customer’s bill will be for that billing period if usage continues at that rate. For these purposes, “sufficient historical electricity or gas usage information” shall be determined by the energy utility but shall, at minimum, include electricity or gas consumption by that customer during the same month during the prior year. A customer that does not have tiered rates and for which an energy utility has sufficient historical electricity or gas usage information may elect to instead receive excess of average partial billing period usage notifications pursuant to paragraph (3) or billing alert notifications pursuant to paragraph (4).
(3) An energy utility shall develop metrics to determine when a residential customer’s electricity or gas usage exceeds average usage for similarly situated residential customers. Based on those metrics, an energy utility shall shall, halfway through each billing period and until the utility has one year of usage data for the customer, notify those customers that do not have tiered rates and for which the energy utility lacks sufficient historical electricity or gas usage information to provide notice pursuant to paragraph (2) when the customer’s electricity or gas usage exceeds a specified percentage of the average usage for similarly situated residential customers. of the customer’s energy usage during the first half of that billing period. The energy utility shall further notify the customer as to how much the customer’s bill will be for that billing period if usage continues at that rate. A customer that does not have tiered rates and for which an energy utility lacks sufficient historical electricity or gas usage information to provide notice pursuant to paragraph (2) may elect to instead receive billing alert notifications pursuant to paragraph (4).
(4) An energy utility shall offer the option to a customer to receive energy bill alert notifications when the customer’s periodic bill exceeds an amount specified by the customer or when the customer’s rate of electricity usage, if it continues through a billing cycle, period, will result in a periodic bill that exceeds an amount specified by the customer. Notification shall inform the customer as to how much the customer’s bill will be for that billing period if usage continues at the rate of usage up to the time of the notification.
(5) The commission may adopt more demanding requirements for an energy utility to provide electricity or gas usage information or bill alert notifications to residential customers that promote a customer’s ability to make informed decisions as to the customer’s electricity or gas usage or that help customers avoid experiencing higher than expected energy bills.
(d) When available, notification pursuant to subdivision (c) shall be by short message service, commonly known as a text message, or by electronic mail. Notification shall not be by automatic dialing-announcing device, commonly known as a robocaller, unless the customer expressly elects to receive notification in this manner. Notifications may, but need not, include specification of taxes, special fees imposed by order of the commission, or special discounts.
(e) An energy utility shall notify a residential customer with a smart meter that the customer may receive notification of the customer’s energy usage or billing information as required pursuant to subdivision (c), the manner by which the customer can provide appropriate contact information to receive notifications, and the customer’s opportunity to opt into or opt out of receiving notifications. If a customer provides appropriate contact information to receive energy usage or billing information notifications pursuant to this section, the customer shall be deemed to have opted in to receiving notifications unless the customer notifies the energy utility that the customer does not wish to receive notifications. If the customer has previously provided the energy utility with an electronic mail address or number by which the energy utility can contact the customer by short message service, the customer shall be deemed to have opted in to receiving notifications by electronic mail or short message service unless the customer notifies the energy utility that the customer does not wish to receive notifications. If the customer, after having received appropriate notice as required by this subdivision, fails to supply the energy utility with any contact information to receive notifications, the customer shall be deemed to have opted out of receiving notifications. If a customer supplies contact information but the supplied means of contact are inappropriate or inadequate to supply the customer with the required notifications, the energy utility shall notify the customer of the reason the means of contact are inappropriate or inadequate. A customer may opt in to or out of these notification services in any other manner determined by the commission.
(f) The commission may modify or adjust the requirements of this section for any electrical corporation with fewer than 100,000 service connections, as individual circumstances merit.

SEC. 2.

 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.