SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has opened a penalty consideration case against Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) based on the findings and conclusions made in a CPUC staff investigation, which started when the CPUC received almost 700 billing-related consumer complaints between June 2015 and May 2016.
The CPUC’s penalty consideration case will consider the findings in the staff investigation to determine if SoCalGas violated any rules or regulations pertaining to billing practices by: 1) repeatedly failing to issue timely monthly bills to approximately 47,000 customers during the winter of 2015-2016; and 2) extending the billing period for approximately 140,000 customers in November and December 2015, and to more than 13.57 million customers from 2014 to 2016, and issuing more than nine million estimated bills.
During the penalty consideration case, an Administrative Law Judge will hear testimony from SoCalGas, CPUC staff, and other interested parties, after which the Administrative Law Judge will prepare a recommendation for consideration by the CPUC’s Commissioners, based on the record developed. If warranted, the recommendation may include statutory fines and penalties of up to $50,000 per each day of a continuing violation of law against SoCalGas.
The CPUC will also consider whether Rule 14, which governs estimated billing, should be revised, and whether SoCalGas shareholders should absorb costs related to incremental meter read workforce and the temporary workforce SoCalGas employed to address bill validation problems.