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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: 07/18/2017 09:00 PM
AB726:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  July 18, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  July 03, 2017
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.
Unless the customer exercises the option to not receive notifications, this bill would require an electrical corporation or gas corporation to provide a residential customer with a smart meter with energy usage or energy billing notifications at appropriate times, based on the customer’s usage of electricity or gas, as specified. 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 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. The bill would require an electrical corporation to seek authority from the commission to be exempted from these requirements with respect to a category of residential customers when compliance is impractical or infeasible and would require the commission to determine whether to grant an exemption on those grounds.
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.
(b) (1) An energy utility shall provide energy usage or energy billing information to a residential customer with a smart meter that promotes the customer’s ability to make informed energy usage decisions and to minimize the risk of the customer being unpleasantly surprised after the fact by the size of the customer’s energy bill during a billing period.
(2) The energy usage or energy billing notification requirements of this section apply to those residential customers of an energy utility who 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 energy 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 at appropriate times, which may include when the customer’s usage of electricity or gas approaches a level that will cause the customer to be charged for electricity or gas consumption in excess of his or her average monthly bill, when crossing into a higher tiered rate, or when significantly exceeding the customer’s historical pace of electricity or gas usage at some point during a billing period.
(d) 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 or gas usage, if it continues through a billing 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 would be for that billing period if usage continues at the rate of usage up to the time of the notification.
(e) The commission may adopt more demanding requirements for an energy utility to provide electricity or gas bill alert notifications to residential customers and may review the requirements of this section to ensure that customers are positioned to make informed decisions as to their electricity or gas usage and avoid experiencing higher than expected energy bills.
(f) When available, notification pursuant to this section shall be by electronic mail, mobile software application, or another electronic method of communication. Notification shall not be by automatic dialing-announcing device, commonly known as a robocaller, or short message service, commonly known as a text message, unless the customer expressly elects to receive notification in one of these manners. Notifications may, but need not, include specification of taxes, special fees imposed by order of the commission, or special discounts.
(g) 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 this section, the manner by which the customer can provide appropriate contact information to receive notifications, and the customer’s opportunity to opt in to 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, the customer shall be deemed to have opted in to receiving notifications by electronic mail 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 customer shall be deemed to have opted out of receiving notifications. A customer may opt in to or out of these notification services in any other manner determined by the commission.
(h) (1) 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.
(2) An electrical corporation shall seek authority from the commission to be exempted from the requirements of this section with respect to a category of residential customers when complying with those requirements is impracticable or infeasible with respect to those customers. If, in response to an application filed by an electrical corporation pursuant to this paragraph, the commission determines that it is impractical or infeasible to comply with the requirements of this section for a category of customers, the commission shall exempt the electrical corporation from the requirements of this section with respect to those customers.
(i) A customer notification provided pursuant to this section is not, and shall not be construed to be, a bill forecast, and no electrical corporation or gas corporation shall be liable if actual bills differ from information provided in the notifications required by this section.

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.