Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC

DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES [201 - 3260]

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

PART 1. PUBLIC UTILITIES ACT [201 - 2120]

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

CHAPTER 4. Regulation of Public Utilities [701 - 922]

  ( Chapter 4 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

ARTICLE 4. Books and Accounts [791 - 799]
  ( Article 4 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

791.
  

Each public utility shall have an office in a county of this State in which its property or some portion thereof is located and shall keep in that office all the books, accounts, papers, and records required by the commission to be kept within this State. No such books, accounts, papers, or records shall be at any time removed from the State except upon such conditions as the commission prescribes.

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

792.
  

The commission may establish a system of accounts to be kept by the public utilities subject to its jurisdiction, or classify such public utilities and establish a system of accounts for each class, and may prescribe the manner in which such accounts shall be kept. It may also prescribe the forms of accounts, records, and memoranda to be kept by such public utilities, including the accounts, records, and memoranda of the movement of traffic as well as the receipts and expenditures of moneys, and any other forms, records, and memoranda which in the judgment of the commission may be necessary to carry out any of the provisions of this part.

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

792.5.
  

(a) Whenever the commission authorizes any change in rates reflecting and passing through to customers specific changes in costs, except rates set for common carriers, the commission shall require as a condition of the order that the public utility establish and maintain a balancing account reflecting the balance, whether positive or negative, between the related costs and revenues, and the commission shall take into account by appropriate adjustment or other action any positive or negative balance remaining in the balancing account at the time of any subsequent rate adjustment.

(b) The commission shall develop a risk-based approach for reviewing all balancing accounts periodically to ensure that the transactions recorded in the balancing accounts are for allowable purposes and are supported by appropriate documentation.

(c) The commission shall maintain an inventory of the balancing accounts established pursuant to this section.

(d) The commission shall require the public utility to record all related costs and revenues in the balancing account, unless those costs or revenues are specifically exempted by the commission.

(e) The commission shall adopt balancing account review procedures that prioritize the review of the following balancing accounts:

(1) Balancing accounts with a quarter-end balance with more than a 10-percent differential from the balancing account’s authorized revenue amount.

(2) Balancing accounts with an authorized revenue amount that is in the top 25th percentile of all balancing accounts.

(3) Balancing accounts that have experienced volatile fluctuations in their quarterly balances over time.

(4) Balancing accounts that have not been reviewed in the previous three years.

(f) The commission may forgo the review of a balancing account pursuant to this section if the Public Advocate’s Office of the Public Utilities Commission or an independent auditor plans to review or audit the balancing account. The balancing account review procedures adopted pursuant to subdivision (e) do not apply to the Public Advocate’s Office of the Public Utilities Commission, and the commission shall retain sole responsibility for the results of those reviews or audits conducted by the Public Advocate’s Office of the Public Utilities Commission or by independent auditors.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 51, Sec. 43. (SB 854) Effective June 27, 2018.)

793.
  

The system of accounts and the forms of accounts, records, and memoranda prescribed by the commission for corporations subject to the regulatory authority of the United States, shall not be inconsistent with the systems and forms from time to time established for such corporations by or under the authority of the United States. Nothing in this section or Section 794 shall affect the power of the commission to prescribe forms of accounts, records, and memoranda covering information in addition to that required by or under the authority of the United States.

(Amended by Stats. 1968, Ch. 832.)

794.
  

The commission may, after notice, and hearing if requested within 15 days after receipt of notice, prescribe by order the accounts in which particular outlays and receipts shall be entered, charged, or credited. Where the commission has prescribed the forms of accounts, records, or memoranda to be kept by any public utility for any of its business, it is unlawful for such public utility to keep any accounts, records, or memoranda for such business other than those so prescribed, or those prescribed by or under the authority of any other state or of the United States, except such accounts, records, or memoranda as are explanatory of and supplemental to those prescribed by the commission.

(Amended by Stats. 1968, Ch. 832.)

795.
  

The commission may, after hearing if requested, require any or all public utilities to carry a proper and adequate depreciation account in the form and in accordance with such rules as the commission prescribes. The commission may, from time to time, ascertain and by order fix the proper and adequate rates of depreciation of the several classes of property of each public utility.

(Amended by Stats. 1970, Ch. 519.)

796.
  

(a) The commission shall disallow, for purposes of setting the rates to be charged by any electrical, gas, or heat corporation for the services or commodities furnished by it, all expenses for advertising which encourage increased consumption of such services or commodities.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the commission may allow, for purposes of setting rates, expenses for advertising which encourages the more efficient operation of the electric, gas, or heating plant, or for advertising which encourages the more efficient use of electricity, gas, or heat or the conservation of energy or natural resources, or presents accurate information on the economical purchase, maintenance, or effective use of electrical or gas appliances and devices.

(Added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 194.)

797.
  

The commission shall periodically audit, or direct that an independent audit be periodically conducted for, all significant transactions, as specified by the commission, between a water corporation with more than 2,000 service connections, or an electrical, gas, or telephone corporation, and every subsidiary or affiliate of, or corporation holding a controlling interest in, that water, electrical, gas, or telephone corporation. The commission, in this connection, may utilize the services of an independent auditor, who shall be selected and supervised by the commission, or may direct a water corporation with more than 2,000 service connections, or an electrical, gas, or telephone corporation, to utilize the services of an independent auditor, who shall be selected and supervised by that water, electrical, gas, or telephone corporation. Nothing in this section prohibits the commission from auditing any transaction between a water corporation with more than 2,000 service connections, or an electrical, gas, or telephone corporation, and any subsidiary or affiliate of, or corporation holding a controlling interest in, that water, electrical, gas, or telephone corporation, as otherwise permitted or required by law.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 224, Sec. 4. (SB 1364) Effective January 1, 2013.)

798.
  

(a) Whenever the commission finds and determines that any water corporation with more than 2,000 service connections, or an electrical, gas, or telephone corporation, has willfully made an imprudent payment to, or received a less than reasonable payment from, any subsidiary or affiliate of, or corporation holding a controlling interest in, the water, electrical, gas, or telephone corporation in violation of any rule or order of the commission, adopted and published by the commission prior to the transaction but after notice to, and an opportunity to comment by, the affected corporation, and the corporation has sought to recover the payment in any proceeding before the commission, the commission, following a hearing, may levy a penalty against the corporation not to exceed three times the required or prohibited payment, as the case may be, if the commission finds that the payment, in whole or part, was made or received by the corporation for the purpose of benefiting its subsidiary, affiliate, or holding corporation. This penalty is in addition to any criminal penalties which may apply.

(b) In determining whether to impose a civil penalty under this section, the commission may take into consideration multistate public utility diversification activities involving cross-subsidization which are permissible in other states or under federal jurisdiction although in violation of the commission’s rules and orders.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 224, Sec. 5. (SB 1364) Effective January 1, 2013.)

799.
  

(a) With respect to all taxes enacted by any local jurisdiction, including any city, county, or city and county, including a chartered city or county, any district, including an agency of the state, formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries, or any public or municipal corporation, and imposed on the customers of public utilities or other service suppliers, which taxes have been collected by the public utilities and other service suppliers and remitted to the local jurisdiction all of the following shall apply:

(1) The public utility or other service supplier shall have no duty to independently investigate or inquire with the local jurisdiction concerning the validity of the tax ordinance.

(2) In connection with any actions or claims relating to or arising from the invalidity of the tax ordinance, in whole or in part, the public utility or other service supplier shall not be liable to any customer as a consequence of collecting the tax.

(3) In the event a local jurisdiction is ordered to refund the tax, it shall be the sole responsibility of the local jurisdiction to refund the tax. Unless a public utility or other service supplier is reimbursed by the local jurisdiction for the actual cost of assisting the local jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, calculating or verifying refunds, distributing refunds, providing data, or providing data processing assistance, the public utility or other service supplier shall not be required to assist the local jurisdiction to refund the tax, including, but not limited to, calculating or verifying refunds, distributing refunds, providing data, or providing data processing assistance.

(4) In any action seeking to enjoin collection of taxes imposed on customers of utilities or other service suppliers and collected by the utilities or other service suppliers, in any action seeking declaratory relief concerning the taxes, in any action seeking a refund of the taxes, or in any action seeking otherwise to invalidate the taxes, the sole necessary party defendant in the action shall be the local jurisdiction on whose behalf the taxes are collected and the public utility or other service supplier collecting the taxes shall not be named as a party in the action.

(5) If a local jurisdiction repeals the tax, reduces an existing tax rate, changes the tax base, or makes any other changes to the tax that would affect the collection and remittance of the tax, the local jurisdiction shall submit, on and after the effective date of the enactment of the change, a written notification and supply all requisite information to the public utility or service supplier, in accordance with the procedures established by the public utility or service supplier. The public utility or other service supplier shall not be required to implement the changes any earlier than 60 days from the date on which the public utility or other service provider receives the written notification and all other information required by the public utility or other service supplier. If the 60th day is not the first day of a month, then the public utility or other service provider shall implement the changes on the first day of the month following the month in which the 60th day occurs.

(6) If a local jurisdiction adopts a new tax, the local jurisdiction shall submit, on and after the effective date of the adoption of the new tax, a written notification to the public utility or other service supplier, in accordance with procedures established by the public utility or other service supplier, requesting that the tax be collected. The public utility or other service supplier shall not be required to begin collecting the tax any earlier than 90 days from the date on which the public utility or other service provider receives written notification and all other information required by the public utility or other service supplier. If the 90th day is not the first day of a month, then the public utility or other service provider shall begin the tax collection on the first day of the month following the month in which the 90th day occurs. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the public utility or other service provider from beginning the tax collection at an earlier date.

(b) For purposes of this section, “other service supplier” shall include, but not be limited to, a holder of a state franchise issued pursuant to Section 5840.

(c) The Legislature finds and declares that the limitations imposed by this section constitute an issue of statewide concern. The Legislature further finds and declares that the limitations imposed by this section are not municipal affairs as that term is used in Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that the limitations imposed by this section apply to all cities, counties, and cities and counties, including chartered cities and chartered counties, any district, including an agency of the state, formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries, and any public or municipal corporation.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 156, Sec. 1. (SB 1422) Effective January 1, 2017.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC