Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC

DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES [201 - 3297]

  ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

PART 1. PUBLIC UTILITIES ACT [201 - 2120]

  ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

CHAPTER 11. Violations [2100 - 2120]
  ( Chapter 11 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

2100.
  

Whenever the commission, after a hearing, finds that any common carrier, other than a railroad corporation, has charged, collected, or received a lesser compensation for the transportation of persons or property, or for any service in connection therewith, than the applicable rates, fares, and charges specified in its tariff schedules filed and in effect at the time, or that the carrier has refunded or remitted in any manner or by any device any portion of the rates, fares, or charges so specified without an order of the commission so authorizing, or charged, collected, or received a lesser compensation than that established by the commission under subdivision (b) of Section 493, the commission shall require the carrier to collect the undercharges involved and may impose upon the carrier a fine equal to the amount of the undercharges. These fines shall be deposited in the General Fund.

The remedy and penalty provided by this section shall be cumulative and shall not be a bar to or affect any other remedy or penalty provided for in this part, or to the exercise by the commission of its power to punish for contempt.

(Amended by Stats. 1985, Ch. 1369, Sec. 7.)

2101.
  

The commission shall see that the provisions of the Constitution and statutes of this State affecting public utilities, the enforcement of which is not specifically vested in some other officer or tribunal, are enforced and obeyed, and that violations thereof are promptly prosecuted and penalties due the State therefor recovered and collected, and to this end it may sue in the name of the people of the State of California. Upon the request of the commission, the Attorney General or the district attorney of the proper county or city and county shall aid in any investigation, hearing, or trial had under the provisions of this part, and shall institute and prosecute actions or proceedings for the enforcement of the provisions of the Constitution and statutes of this State affecting public utilities and for the punishment of all violations thereof.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2102.
  

Whenever the commission is of the opinion that any public utility is failing or omitting or about to fail or omit, to do anything required of it by law, or by any order, decision, rule, direction, or requirement of the commission, or is doing anything or about to do anything, or permitting anything or about to permit anything to be done, in violation of law or of any order, decision, rule, direction, or requirement of the commission, it shall direct the attorney of the commission to commence an action or proceeding in the superior court in and for the county, or city and county, in which the cause or some part thereof arose, or in which the corporation complained of has its principal place of business, or in which the person complained of resides, for the purpose of having such violations or threatened violations stopped and prevented, either by mandamus or injunction. The attorney of the commission shall thereupon begin such action or proceeding in the name of the people of the State of California, by petition to such superior court, alleging the violation or threatened violation complained of, and praying for appropriate relief by way of mandamus or injunction.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2103.
  

Upon the filing of a petition pursuant to Section 2102, the court shall specify a time, not exceeding 20 days after the service of the copy of the petition, within which the public utility complained of shall answer the petition, and in the meantime the public utility may be restrained. In case of default in answer, or after answer, the court shall immediately inquire into the facts and circumstances of the case. Such corporations or persons as the court deems necessary or proper to be joined as parties, in order to make its judgment, order or writ effective, may be joined as parties. The final judgment in any such action or proceeding shall either dismiss the action or proceeding or direct that the writ of mandamus or injunction issue or be made permanent as prayed for in the petition, or in such modified or other form as will afford appropriate relief. An appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court from such final judgment in the same manner and with the same effect, subject to the provisions of this part, as appeals are taken from judgments of the superior court in other actions for mandamus or injunction.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2104.
  

(a) Except as provided by Sections 2100 and 2107.5, actions to recover penalties under this part shall be brought in the name of the people of the State of California, in the superior court in and for the county, or city and county, in which the cause or some part thereof arose, or in which the corporation complained of has its principal place of business, or in which the person complained of resides. The action shall be commenced and prosecuted to final judgment by the attorney or agent of the commission. All fines and penalties may be sued for and recovered. The commission may enjoin the sale of a public utility’s or common carrier’s assets to satisfy unpaid fines and penalties. The commission may use any of the remedies afforded to a creditor under the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 3439) of Title 2 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Civil Code). Respondents who fraudulently transfer assets to avoid paying commission-imposed fines or penalties are subject to prosecution under Sections 154, 531, and 531a of the Penal Code. In all of these actions, the procedure and rules of evidence shall be the same as in ordinary civil actions, except for prosecutions under the Penal Code or as otherwise herein provided. All fines and penalties recovered by the state in any action, together with the costs thereof, shall be paid into the State Treasury to the credit of the General Fund. Any action may be compromised or discontinued on application of the commission upon the terms the court approves and orders.

(b) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2014.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 44, Sec. 28. (SB 161) Effective January 1, 2016.)

2104.5.
  

Any penalty for violation of any provision of this act, or of any rule, regulation, general order, or order of the commission, involving safety standards for pipeline facilities or the transportation of gas in the State of California may be compromised by the commission. In determining the amount of such penalty, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, the appropriateness of such penalty to the size of the business of the person charged, the gravity of the violation, and the good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve compliance, after notification of a violation, shall be considered. The amount of any such penalty, when finally determined, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, may be recovered in a civil action in the name of the People of the State of California in the superior court in and for the county, or city and county in which the cause or some part thereof arose, or in which the corporation complained of has its principal place of business or the person complained of resides. In any such action, all penalties incurred, or amounts agreed upon in compromise for violations committed up to the time of commencing the action may be sued for and recovered. In all such actions, the procedure and rules of evidence shall be the same as in ordinary civil actions, except as otherwise herein provided. All fines and penalties recovered by the state in any such action, together with the costs thereof, shall be paid into the State Treasury to the credit of the General Fund.

(Added by Stats. 1970, Ch. 520.)

2104.7.
  

(a) Notwithstanding Section 2104, all moneys collected pursuant to any settlements, unless restricted by a court for another purpose, abatement orders, fines, or penalties by the commission from a gas corporation serving the Los Angeles Basin pursuant to an administrative enforcement or legal proceeding relating to the well failure at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility first reported to the commission in October 2015 shall be deposited in the Aliso Canyon Recovery Account, which is hereby created in the State Treasury. Moneys in the account may be allocated, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for purposes of mitigating impacts on local air quality, public health, and ratepayers resulting from the well failure at Aliso Canyon, including evaluation of any negative effects on public health and enhancing the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of implementing Sections 380.6 and 2836.7.

(b) For purposes of this section, “Los Angeles Basin” means the area identified as the “Aliso Canyon Delivery Area” on page 11 of the Aliso Canyon Risk Assessment Technical Report, dated April 5, 2016.

(Added by Stats. 2017, Ch. 814, Sec. 2. (SB 801) Effective January 1, 2018.)

2105.
  

All penalties accruing under this part shall be cumulative, and a suit for the recovery of one penalty shall not be a bar to or affect the recovery of any other penalty or forfeiture or be a bar to any criminal prosecution against any public utility, or any officer, director, agent, or employee thereof, or any other corporation or person, or to the exercise by the commission of its power to punish for contempt.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2106.
  

Any public utility which does, causes to be done, or permits any act, matter, or thing prohibited or declared unlawful, or which omits to do any act, matter, or thing required to be done, either by the Constitution, any law of this State, or any order or decision of the commission, shall be liable to the persons or corporations affected thereby for all loss, damages, or injury caused thereby or resulting therefrom. If the court finds that the act or omission was wilful, it may, in addition to the actual damages, award exemplary damages. An action to recover for such loss, damage, or injury may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction by any corporation or person.

No recovery as provided in this section shall in any manner affect a recovery by the State of the penalties provided in this part or the exercise by the commission of its power to punish for contempt.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2107.
  

Any public utility that violates or fails to comply with any provision of the Constitution of this state or of this part, or that fails or neglects to comply with any part or provision of any order, decision, decree, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, in a case in which a penalty has not otherwise been provided, is subject to a penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500), nor more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), for each offense.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 626, Sec. 37. (SB 901) Effective January 1, 2019.)

2107.5.
  

When the commission finds, after hearing, that any person or corporation has knowingly aided or abetted a common carrier in violating Section 458 or has violated Section 459, or any order, decision, rule, regulation, direction, demand, or requirement issued under those provisions, the commission may impose a fine for each violation not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000). In addition to the fine, the commission may impose interest on the fine, not to exceed the maximum rate of interest provided for in Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution. Interest shall commence to accrue on the date when the payment of the fine becomes delinquent.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 1042, Sec. 25. Effective September 29, 1996.)

2108.
  

Every violation of the provisions of this part or of any part of any order, decision, decree, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, by any corporation or person is a separate and distinct offense, and in case of a continuing violation each day’s continuance thereof shall be a separate and distinct offense.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2109.
  

In construing and enforcing the provisions of this part relating to penalties, the act, omission, or failure of any officer, agent, or employee of any public utility, acting within the scope of his official duties or employment, shall in every case be the act, omission, or failure of such public utility.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2110.
  

Every public utility and every officer, agent, or employee of any public utility, who violates or fails to comply with, or who procures, aids, or abets any violation by any public utility of any provision of the California Constitution or of this part, or who fails to comply with any part of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, or who procures, aids, or abets any public utility in the violation or noncompliance in a case in which a penalty has not otherwise been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both fine and imprisonment.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 464, Sec. 2. (AB 861) Effective January 1, 2013.)

2111.
  

Every corporation or person, other than a public utility and its officers, agents, or employees, which or who knowingly violates or fails to comply with, or procures, aids or abets any violation of any provision of the California Constitution relating to public utilities or of this part, or fails to comply with any part of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, or who procures, aids, or abets any public utility in the violation or noncompliance, in a case in which a penalty has not otherwise been provided for the corporation or person, is subject to a penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500), nor more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for each offense.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 464, Sec. 3. (AB 861) Effective January 1, 2013.)

2112.
  

Every person who, either individually, or acting as an officer, agent, or employee of a corporation other than a public utility, violates any provision of this part, or fails to comply with any part of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, or who procures, aids, or abets any public utility in such violation or noncompliance, in a case in which a penalty has not otherwise been provided for such person, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2112.5.
  

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person who willfully violates the provisions of Section 588 is guilty of a misdemeanor, subject to a penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500), nor more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), for each offense.

(Added by Stats. 1994, Ch. 112, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1995.)

2113.
  

Every public utility, corporation, or person which fails to comply with any part of any order, decision, rule, regulation, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission or any commissioner is in contempt of the commission, and is punishable by the commission for contempt in the same manner and to the same extent as contempt is punished by courts of record. The remedy prescribed in this section does not bar or affect any other remedy prescribed in this part, but is cumulative and in addition thereto.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)

2114.
  

Any public utility on whose behalf any agent or officer thereof who, having taken an oath that he will testify, declare, depose or certify truly before the commission, willfully and contrary to such oath states or submits as true any material matter which he knows to be false, or who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he knows to be false, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000).

(Added by Stats. 1975, Ch. 1264.)

2115.
  

Whenever the commission determines that a railroad corporation has violated any order of the commission concerning the adequacy, condition, or safety of the corporation’s cars or tracks or any related fixture or appliance, the commission may impose upon the corporation a fine of not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each violation or a fine of not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200) for each day that a violation continues uncorrected. The commission may assess interest upon any fine imposed, which shall commence upon the day the payment of the fine is delinquent.

(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 618, Sec. 2.)

2117.
  

(a) Whenever a written notice to appear has been mailed to the owner of a passenger stage, an exact and legible duplicate copy of the notice, when filed with the magistrate in lieu of a verified complaint, is a complaint to which the defendant may plead guilty.

(b) If, however, the defendant fails to appear, does not deposit bail, or pleads other than guilty to the offense charged, a complaint shall be filed which conforms to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 948) of Title 5 of Part 2 of the Penal Code and which shall be deemed to be an original complaint, and thereafter the proceeding shall be held as provided by law, except that the defendant may, by an agreement in writing, subscribed by the defendant and filed with the court, waive the filing of a verified complaint and elect that the prosecution may proceed upon a written notice to appear.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 1042, Sec. 26. Effective September 29, 1996.)

2119.
  

Every passenger stage corporation and every officer, director, agent, or employee of a passenger stage corporation, who displays on any vehicle any identifying symbol other than one prescribed by the commission pursuant to Section 1038.5, or who fails to remove an identifying symbol when required by the commission, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 1042, Sec. 27. Effective September 29, 1996.)

2120.
  

(a) The commission shall not distribute, expend, or encumber any moneys received by the commission as a result of any commission proceeding or judicial action, including the compromise or settlement of a claim, until both of the following are true:

(1) The commission has provided the Director of Finance with written notification of the receipt of the moneys and the basis for those moneys being received by the commission.

(2) The Director of Finance provides not less than 60 days’ written notice to the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the chairpersons of the appropriate budget subcommittees of the Senate and Assembly of the receipt of the moneys and the basis for those moneys being received by the commission.

(b) This section does not apply to application or licensing fees charged by the commission to defray regulatory expenses.

(c) This section does not apply to moneys received by the commission in a court-approved settlement or as a result of a court judgment where the court orders that the moneys be used for specified purposes.

(d) This section does not apply to moneys received by the commission where statutes expressly provide how the moneys are to be paid or used, including all of the following:

(1) Payment to any fund created by Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 270).

(2) Payment to any account or fund pursuant to Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 401).

(3) Payment to the Ratepayer Relief Fund pursuant to Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 16428.1) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 71, Sec. 154. (SB 1304) Effective January 1, 2015.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC