Chapter 4901:1-29 Minimum Standards for Competitive Retail Natural Gas Service

4901:1-29-01 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(A) "Ancillary service" has the meaning set forth in division (B) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) "Billing and collection agent" has the meaning set forth in division (I) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(C) "Ccf" means one hundred cubic feet of natural gas.

(D) "Commission" means the public utilities commission of Ohio.

(E) "Commodity sales service" has the meaning set forth in division (C) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(F) "Competitive retail natural gas service" has the meaning set forth in division (J) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(G) "Complaint" means any customer/consumer contact when such contact necessitates follow-up by or with the retail natural gas company or governmental aggregator to resolve a point of contention.

(H) "Consumer" has the meaning set forth in division (E) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(I) "Contract" means an agreement between a customer and retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator that specifies the terms and conditions for provision of a competitive retail natural gas service.

(J) "Customer" means a person who contracts with or is solicited by a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator for the provision of a competitive retail natural gas service.

(K) "Deposit" means a sum of money a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator collects from a customer as a precondition for initiating service.

(L) "Direct solicitation" means face-to-face solicitation of a customer initiated by a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator at the home of a customer or at a place other than the normal place of business of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator and includes door-to-door solicitations.

(M) "Disclosure statement" means any communication between a customer and governmental aggregator including operation and governance plans and opt-out notices.

(N) "Distribution service" has the meaning set forth in division (F) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(O) "Eligible customer" means a person that is eligible to participate in a governmental aggregation in accordance with sections 4929.26 and 4929.27 of the Revised Code and does not include any of the following:

(1) A person that is a both a distribution service customer and a mercantile customer on the date of commencement of service to the governmental aggregation, or the person becomes a distribution service customer after the service commencement date and is also a mercantile customer.

(2) A person that is supplied with commodity sales service pursuant to a contract with a retail natural gas supplier that is in effect on the effective date of the ordinance or resolution authorizing the aggregation.

(3) A person that is supplied with commodity sales service as part of the percentage of income payment plan program or similar or successor program adopted by the commission under Chapter 4905. or 4929. of the Revised Code.

(4) A customer that has failed to discharge, or enter into a plan to discharge, all existing arrearages owed to or being billed by the incumbent natural gas company.

(P) "Existing customer" means a person who has a contract with a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator for the provision of competitive retail natural gas service.

(Q) "Governmental aggregator" has the meaning set forth in division (K)(1) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code. For purposes of this chapter, "governmental aggregator" specifically excludes a municipal corporation acting exclusively under Section 4 of Article XVIII, Ohio Constitution, as an aggregator for the provision of competitive retail natural gas service.

(R) "Mcf" means one thousand cubic feet of natural gas.

(S) "Mercantile customer" has the meaning set forth in division (L) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(T) "Natural gas company" has the meaning set forth in division (G) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(U) "Opt-in governmental aggregator" means those governmental aggregators who perform aggregation pursuant to section 4929.27 of the Revised Code.

(V) "Opt-out governmental aggregator" means those governmental aggregators who perform automatic governmental aggregation pursuant to section 4929.26 of the Revised Code.

(W) "Person" has the meaning set forth in division (H) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(X) "Regulated sales service customer" means a person who has an agreement by contract and/or tariff with a natural gas company or gas company to receive regulated sales service.

(Y) "Residential customer' means a customer who contracts for a competitive retail natural gas service for residential purposes.

(Z) "Retail natural gas service" has the meaning set forth in division (M) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(AA) "Retail natural gas supplier" has the meaning set forth in division (N) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(BB) "Small commercial customer" means a commercial customer which is not a mercantile commercial customer under paragraph (S) of this rule.

(CC) "Solicitation" means any communication intended to elicit a customer's agreement to purchase or contract for a competitive retail natural gas service.

(DD) "Staff" means the commission staff.

(EE) "Toll-free" means telephone access provided to a customer without toll charges to the customer.

(FF) "TDD/TTY" means telecommunication device for the deaf/text telephone yoke as defined in 47 C.F.R. 64.601 as of January 1, 2006.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22 , 4929.01
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.22 , 4929.26 , 4929.27
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 4/6/06

4901:1-29-02 Purpose and scope.

(A) The rules in this chapter:

(1) Apply to persons offering or providing any competitive retail natural gas service as defined by division (J) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(2) Apply to the services of natural gas companies as necessary to implement the rules of this chapter.

(3) Are intended to:

(a) Provide minimum standards for service quality, safety, and reliability.

(b) Provide customers with sufficient information to make informed decisions about competitive retail natural gas service.

(c) Protect customers against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable acts and practices in the marketing, solicitation, and sale of competitive retail natural gas service and in the administration of any contract for that service.

(d) Promote nondiscriminatory access to competitive retail natural gas services, ensure timely enrollment with retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators, maintain natural gas service, and timely and correctly switch retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators.

(4) Apply to all jurisdictional customers unless otherwise specified.

(B) After notice and an opportunity for hearing, the commission may require a retail natural gas supplier, governmental aggregator or natural gas company to take any appropriate action necessary to comply with these rules and the state's policy as stated in section 4929.02 of the Revised Code, upon any of the following:

(1) The commission's own motion.

(2) Formal or informal complaints brought to the commission.

(3) The application of any a retail natural gas supplier, governmental aggregator, natural gas company, or any person.

(C) The commission may waive any requirement of this chapter, for good cause shown or upon its own motion.

(D) The rules in this chapter shall not relieve retail natural gas suppliers or governmental aggregators from complying with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.

(E) The rules of this chapter supersede any inconsistent provisions, terms, and conditions of the retail natural gas supplier's contracts entered into after the effective date of this chapter or other documents describing service offerings for customers or potential customers in Ohio or any inconsistencies found in the natural gas company tariffs.

(F) Enforcement of any rule in this chapter or commission order adopted thereunder will be conducted in accordance with Chapter 4901:1-34 of the Administrative Code.

(G) The rules in this chapter shall not apply to transactions which involve the supplying or the arranging for the supply of natural gas service to mercantile customers. However, "mercantile customer" excludes a customer for which a declaration has been filed under division (L)(2) of section 4929.01 of the Revised Code.

(H) The governmental aggregator may choose to have the retail natural gas supplier perform certain functions as the governmental aggregator's agent. However, the governmental aggregator is still responsible for ensuring that the requirements of this chapter are met.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22 , 4905.06
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22 , 4905.04 , 4905.05 , 4929.24 , 4929.30 , 4929.01(L) , 4929.01(N)
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-29-03 General provisions.

(A) Retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall not engage in unfair, misleading, deceptive, or unconscionable acts or practices related to, without limitation, the following activities:

(1) Marketing, solicitation, or sale of a competitive retail natural gas service.

(2) Administration of contracts for such service.

(3) Provision of such service, including interactions with consumers.

(B) Retail natural gas suppliers shall maintain an employee and an office open for business in the state of Ohio.

(C) Retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall not cause or arrange for the disconnection of distribution service, or employ the threat of such actions, as a consequence of contract termination, customer nonpayment, or for any other reason.

(D) Retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall not change or authorize the changing of a customer's supplier of competitive retail natural gas service without the customer's prior consent, as provided for under rule 4901:1-29-06 of the Administrative Code. For the purpose of procuring competitive retail natural gas services, this requirement does not apply to automatic governmental aggregation and for the percentage of income payment program.

(E) All retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall include, in their certification application, the name, telephone number, and e-mail address of a contact person who will respond to commission concerns pertaining to consumer complaints. If any of the required information relating to the contact person should change, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall file notice of such changes to the commission within thirty days of such material change, consistent with paragraphs (A) and (B)(8) of rule 4901:1-27-10 of the Administrative Code.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-29-04 Records and retention.

(A) Each natural gas company (for records retention related to competitive retail natural gas services), each retail natural gas supplier and each governmental aggregator shall establish and maintain records and data sufficient to:

(1) Verify its compliance with the requirements of any applicable commission rules.

(2) Support any investigation of customer complaints.

(B) Unless otherwise prescribed in this chapter, all records required by this chapter shall be retained for no less than two years.

(C) Unless otherwise prescribed by the commission or its authorized representatives, all records required by this chapter shall be provided to the staff within three business days of its request.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 07/28/2014 and 07/28/2019
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.10 , 4929.22 , 4929.23 , 4905.06
Rule Amplifies: 4903.03 , 4929.23 , 4905.05
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 4/13/07

4901:1-29-05 Marketing and solicitation.

(A) Each retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator that offers competitive retail natural gas service to customers shall provide, in marketing materials that include or accompany a service contract, sufficient information for customers to make informed cost comparisons.

(1) For fixed-rate offers, such information shall, at minimum, include:

(a) The cost per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format, for natural gas supply.

(b) The amount of any other recurring or nonrecurring retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator charges.

(c) A statement that the retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's rate is exclusive of all applicable state and local taxes and the incumbent natural gas company's service and delivery charges.

(2) For variable-rate offers, such information shall, at minimum, include:

(a) A clear and understandable explanation of the factors that will cause the price to vary (including any related indices) and how often the price can change.

(b) The amount of any other recurring or retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator charges.

(c) A statement that the retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's rate is exclusive of all applicable state and local taxes and the incumbent natural gas company's service and delivery charges.

(B) A retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's promotional and advertising material shall be provided to the commission or its staff within three business days of a request by the commission or its staff.

(C) No retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator may engage in marketing, solicitation, sales acts, or practices which are unfair, misleading, deceptive, or unconscionable in the marketing, solicitation, or sale of a competitive retail natural gas service. Such unfair, misleading, deceptive, or unconscionable acts or practices include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Soliciting customers for a competitive retail natural gas service after suspension, rescission, or conditional rescission of certification by the commission or after denial of certification renewal by the commission.

(2) Failing to comply with paragraph (A) or (B) of this rule.

(3) Failing to provide in or with its advertisements and promotional materials that make an offer for sale, a toll-free/local telephone number (and address for printed materials) which the potential customer may call or write to request detailed information regarding the price, terms, conditions, limitations, and restrictions.

(4) Soliciting via telephone calls initiated by the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (or its agent) without first obtaining the list of Ohio customers who have requested to be placed on the federal trade commission's "do not call" list registry and obtaining every thirty-one days updates of the federal trade commission's "do not call" registry.

(5) Engaging in telephone solicitation of Ohio customers who have been placed on the federal trade commission's "do not call" registry.

(6) Engaging in telephone solicitation to residential customers either before nine a.m. or after nine p.m..

(7) Engaging in direct solicitation to customers where the retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's sales agent fails to wear and display a valid retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator photo identification. The format for this identification shall preapproved by the staff.

(8) Advertising or marketing offers that:

(a) Claim that a specific price advantage, savings, or guarantee exists if it does not, or may exist if it will not.

(b) Claim to provide a competitive retail natural gas service when such an offer is not a bona fide offer to sell such services.

(c) Offer a fixed price per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format, for competitive retail natural gas service without disclosing all recurring and nonrecurring charges.

(d) Offer a variable price per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format, for competitive retail natural gas service without disclosing all recurring and nonrecurring charges.

(e) Fail to disclose all material limitations, exclusions, and offer expiration dates.

(f) Fail to fully disclose, in an appropriate and conspicuous type-size, an affiliate relationship on advertising or marketing offers that use affiliated natural gas company name and logo.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 2/24/05

4901:1-29-06 Customer enrollment.

(A) The retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator shall coordinate customer enrollment with the incumbent natural gas company in accordance with the procedures set forth in this chapter.

(B) Retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators are prohibited from enrolling potential customers without their consent and proof of that consent as delineated in paragraphs (D), (E) and (F) of this rule. This requirement does not apply to opt-out governmental aggregation and for the percentage of income payment program.

(C) The incumbent natural gas company shall provide a written notice to customers that allows customers to rescind their enrollment with a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator within seven business days from the postmark date of the notice.

(D) Mailings, facsimiles, and direct solicitation

(1) Where enrollment occurs by mail, facsimile, or direct solicitation, the customer's signature on a contract shall constitute consent.

(2) Consistent with rule 4901:1-29-05 of the Administrative Code, prior to entering into a contract for service, retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall provide each customer with enrollment documents that contain, at a minimum, clear and understandable pricing, terms and conditions of service, the dollar amount of all recurring and nonrecurring charges(including any fees for early termination of the contract), and the duration of the contract.

(3) Before obtaining a signature from the applicant, retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall provide each customer a reasonable opportunity to read all enrollment documents and shall answer any and all questions posed by any applicant about information contained in the documents.

(4) Immediately upon obtaining the customer's signature, retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall provide the applicant a legible copy of the signed contract, unless the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator has already provided the customer with a separate, complete copy of the terms and conditions for the customer's records and the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator has complied with paragraph (C) of rule 4901:1-29-10 of the Administrative Code.

(5) Where enrollment occurs by direct solicitation, customers shall be advised both verbally and in the contract that: (a) the incumbent natural gas company will be sending a confirmation notice of the transfer of service; (b) the customer is allowed a seven business day period from the confirmation notice postmark date to rescind the enrollment; and (c) the customer should contact the incumbent natural gas company to rescind the enrollment.

(6) Where the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator conducts direct solicitation through "door-to-door" sales of residential customers, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator must comply with the following minimum requirements:

(a) Acknowledgment forms

Retail natural gas suppliers or governmental aggregators performing door-to-door solicitation shall have the customer execute an acknowledgement form as part of and at the time of the door-to-door enrollment process. The acknowledgment form shall include at a minimum the following statements or questions:

(i) Did the representative state he/she was representing [retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator] and was not from the natural gas company?

(ii) Did the representative explain that by signing the enrollment form you were entering into an agreement/contract for [retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator] to supply your natural gas?

(iii) Did the representative explain the price for natural gas under the contract you signed is $_____ per [Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format] plus sales tax?

(iv) Did the representative explain that the contract term is ____ year(s)?

(v) Did the representative orally explain your right to cancel?

(vi) Did the representative leave two completed right to cancel notices with you?

(b) Third-party verification

An independent third-party verification shall be conducted to ensure the validity of enrollment. The third-party verifier must successfully contact and survey at least fifty per cent of all customers enrolled by door-to-door solicitation. The verification process should be performed prior to submitting the enrollment information to the incumbent natural gas company. The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator must provide a copy of the survey to the incumbent natural gas company or the commission upon request within three business days of any such request. If the third-party verification does not confirm that the residential customer enrolled with the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator, then the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall not submit the enrollment information of that residential customer to the incumbent natural gas company.

(c) Terms and conditions print specifications

The terms and conditions must be provided to the residential customer at the time of sale and must be printed in dark ink on white or pastel paper and be ten-point type or greater.

(d) Uniform

Each door-to-door solicitor must display a valid photo identification of the approved retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator he/she represents. The format for this identification shall be pre-approved by the staff.

(7) The retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator shall send an electronic enrollment request to the incumbent natural gas company within three business days following receipt of the contract executed by the customer, unless a later enrollment transmittal date is agreed to in the contract by the customer or if the customer rescinds the enrollment.

(E) Telephonic enrollment

(1) To enroll a customer telephonically, a retail natural gas supplier, governmental aggregator or an independent third-party verifier shall make a date- and time-stamped audio recording before the completion of the enrollment that verifies, at a minimum, the following:

(a) The retail natural gas supplier, governmental aggregator, or the independent third-party verifier identity and the exact purpose of the call.

(b) A verbal statement and the customer's acknowledgement that the call is being recorded.

(c) A verbal question and the customer's acknowledgement that the customer wishes to enroll with the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(d) A verbal question and the customer's acknowledgement that the customer is the customer of record or is authorized to switch retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator by the customer of record.

(e) In accordance with rule 4901:1-29-11 of the Administrative Code, a verbal statement and the customer's acceptance of each of the principal terms and conditions for the service that will be provided, including, but not limited to:

(i) The service(s) that will be provided.

(ii) The price per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format.

(iii) The length of the contract term.

(iv) An approximate service commencement date.

(v) The contract termination date, and any fees for customer cancellation prior to such date.

(vi) Any material limitations, conditions, or exclusions.

(vii) Any fees or costs to the customer.

(viii) If applicable, whether the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator will perform a credit check and require a deposit, including the amount.

(ix) Who will bill for the retail natural gas supplier's and governmental aggregator's service(s).

(x) The enrollment confirmation number.

(f) A verbal statement and the customer's acknowledgement that the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator will, within one business day, send the customer a written contract that details the terms and conditions that were summarized in the telephone call.

(g) Customers are advised both verbally and in the contract all of the following:

(i) The incumbent natural gas company will be sending a confirmation notice of the transfer of service.

(ii) The customer is allowed a seven business day period from the confirmation notice postmark date to rescind the enrollment.

(iii) The customer should contact the incumbent natural gas company to rescind the enrollment.

(h) The incumbent natural gas company's toll-free or local telephone number that the customer can call to rescind the enrollment.

(i) A verbal request for and the customer's provision of the customer's natural gas company's account numberd.

(j) A verbal request for and the customer's provision of the customer's mailing address.

(2) Following telephonic enrollment, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall:

(a) Within one business day, send the customer a written contract that details the terms and conditions summarized in the telephone call pursuant to rule 4901:1-29-11 of the Administrative Code. Such contract shall in no way alter the terms and conditions to which the customer agreed in the telephone call.

(b) Retain the audio recording of the customer's enrollment for one year after the contract with the customer is terminated.

(c) Provide a copy of the audio recording to the commission or its staff within three business days of a request.

(3) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall not initiate enrollment with the incumbent natural gas company prior to the completion of the enrollment transaction with the customer.

(4) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall send an electronic enrollment request to the incumbent natural gas company within three business days after sending the customer the written contract, unless a later enrollment transmittal date is agreed to in the contract by the customer or if the customer rescinds the enrollment.

(F) Internet enrollment

(1) Where enrollment occurs by internet, prior consent shall be obtained by encrypted customer input on a retail natural gas supplier's and or governmental aggregator's internet website.

(2) The internet enrollment website shall, at a minimum, include:

(a) A copy of the retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's customer contract with all terms and conditions as required by rule 4901:1-29-11 of the Administrative Code.

(b) A statement advising customers both at the website and in the contract that:

(i) The incumbent natural gas company will be sending a confirmation notice of the transfer of service.

(ii) The customer is allowed a seven business day period from the confirmation notice postmark date to rescind the enrollment.

(iii) The customer should contact the incumbent natural gas company to rescind the enrollment.

(c) A prompt for the customer to print or save a copy of the contract.

(3) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall not initiate enrollment with the incumbent natural gas company prior to the completion of the enrollment transaction with the customer.

(4) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall send an electronic enrollment request to the incumbent natural gas company within three business days following the completion of the enrollment transaction with the customer, unless a later enrollment transmittal date is specified and agreed to in the contract by the customer or if the customer rescinds the enrollment.

(5) Any electronic version of the contract shall be identified by version number, in order to ensure the ability to verify the particular contract to which the customer agrees.

(6) Throughout the duration of the contract, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall retain and, within three business days of the customer's request, provide to the customer an e-mail, paper, or facsimile copy of the terms and conditions of the numbered contract version to which the customer contracted.

(7) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall require the customer to complete an electronic customer consent form in a format retrievable by the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator that includes:

(a) The customer's agreement to the terms and conditions.

(b) An electronic agreement version number.

(c) The name of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(d) The date the customer electronically enrolled.

(e) The name of the account holder.

(f) The incumbent natural gas company account number.

(g) The account holder's U.S. mailing address.

(8) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall provide a mechanism by which both the submission and receipt of the electronic customer consent form are recorded by time and date.

(9) After the customer completes the electronic customer consent form, the internet enrollment process shall disclose conspicuously that the customer has been enrolled and the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall provide the customer an enrollment confirmation number.

(G) In customer enrollment, if the incumbent natural gas company rejects a customer from enrollment, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall notify the customer within three business days from the incumbent natural gas company's notification of rejection that the customer will not be enrolled or enrollment will be delayed, along with the reason(s) therefor.

(H) The incumbent natural gas company shall, prior to commencing competitive retail natural gas service, mail the customer a confirmation notice stating:

(1) The incumbent natural gas company has received a request to enroll the customer for competitive retail natural gas service with the named retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(2) The date such service is expected to begin.

(3) The customer has seven business days from the postmark date on the notice to contact the incumbent natural gas company to rescind the enrollment request or notify the incumbent natural gas company that the change of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator was not requested by the customer.

(4) The incumbent natural gas company's toll-free telephone number.

(I) Within two business days after receiving a customer's request to rescind enrollment with the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator, the incumbent natural gas company shall initiate such rescission and inform the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator that such action has been taken.

(J) Customers may request an actual meter reading prior to the transfer of the service to the new retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(K) Customers returning to the incumbent natural gas company's commodity service.

(1) Any customer returning to the incumbent natural gas company's commodity service due to default, abandonment, slamming, or certification rescission of a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator will not be liable for any costs associated with the switch.

(2) Any switching fee applicable to customers switching from one marketer to another marketer shall also apply to customers switching from a marketer to the incumbent natural gas company's commodity sales service.

(3) Customers participating in an opt-out governmental aggregation program will not be charged a switching fee upon returning to regulated sales service due to either termination of the aggregation or the aggregator switching suppliers.

(4) Any customer returned to the incumbent natural gas company's commodity service shall pay the applicable regulated sales service rate while taking such service.

(5) Within two business days after confirming the validated electronic data file for a retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's customer-drop request, the incumbent natural gas company shall mail the customer a notice stating:

(a) The incumbent natural gas company has received a request to drop the customer from competitive retail natural gas service with the named retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(b) The retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's toll-free telephone number.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22 , 4905.06
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22 , 4905.04 , 4905.05 , 4929.26(D)
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-29-07 Credit and deposits.

Each retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator must establish reasonable and nondiscriminatory creditworthiness standards and may require a deposit or other reasonable demonstration of creditworthiness from a customer as a condition of providing service. In the application of such standards, deposits, or creditworthiness procedures, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall:

(A) Disclose in service contracts with customers its nondiscriminatory policies regarding creditworthiness and deposits, including the amount of any deposit, the allocation of the deposit, and the return of any deposit balance.

(B) Accept a reasonable and nondiscriminatory deposit as sufficient evidence of the customer's creditworthiness to initiate service.

(C) Disclose whether interest will be paid on deposits and the applicable rate of interest.

(D) Provide the customer a receipt for any deposit within ten business days of the date that the deposit is collected.

(E) Return the deposit within seven business days if the customer cancels the contract during the rescission period.

(F) Apply the deposit to the final bill and promptly refund any excess to the customer when service is terminated.

(G) Not require an applicant to pay the balance due another retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator as a condition of establishing credit or providing competitive retail natural gas service.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 07/28/2014 and 07/28/2019
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.10 , 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 4/13/07

4901:1-29-08 Customer access and complaint handling.

(A) Customer access

(1) Each retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall ensure customers reasonable access to its service representatives to make inquiries and complaints, discuss charges on customer bills, terminate competitive service, and transact any other pertinent business.

(2) Telephone access shall be toll free and afford customers prompt answer times during normal business hours.

(3) Each retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall provide a twenty-four hour automated telephone message instructing callers to report any service interruptions or natural gas emergencies to the incumbent natural gas company.

(B) Customer complaints

(1) Each retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (and/or its agent) shall investigate customer complaints (including customer complaints referred by the natural gas company) and provide a status report within three business days following receipt of the complaint to:

(a) The customer, when the complaint is made directly to the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(b) The customer and staff, when a complaint is referred to the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator by the commission staff.

(2) If an investigation is not completed within ten business days, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (and/or its agent) shall provide status reports to the customer, or if applicable, to the customer and staff. Such status reports shall be provided at three business day intervals until the investigation is complete, unless the action that must be taken will require more than three business days and the customer has been so notified.

(3) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (and/or its agent) shall inform the customer, or the customer and staff, of the results of the investigation, orally or in writing, no later than three business days after completion of the investigation. The customer or staff may request the report in writing.

(4) If a customer disputes the retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's (and/or its agent's) report, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall inform the customer that the staff is available to mediate complaints. The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (and/or its agent) shall provide the customer with the address, local/toll-free telephone numbers, and TDD/TTY telephone number of the commission's call center.

(5) Each retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall retain records of customer complaints, investigations, and complaint resolutions for two years after the occurrence of such complaints and shall provide such records to the staff within three business days of request.

(6) Each retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall make good faith efforts to resolve disputes and cooperate with the resolution of any joint issues with the incumbent natural gas company.

(C) If customers contact the incumbent natural gas company concerning competitive retail natural gas service issues, the incumbent natural gas company shall:

(1) Review the issue with the customer to determine whether it also involves the incumbent natural gas company.

(2) Cooperate with the resolution of any joint issues with the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(3) Refer the customer to the appropriate retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator in those instances where the issue lacks incumbent natural gas company involvement.

(D) Slamming complaints

(1) A slamming complaint is a customer's allegation that the customer's retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator has been switched without the customer's authorization.

(2) If a customer contacts a natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator alleging that the customer's supplier has been switched without the customer's authorization, the natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall:

(a) Provide the customer any evidence relating to the customer's enrollment.

(b) Refer the customer to the commission's call center.

(c) Provide the customer with the local/toll-free telephone numbers of the commission's call center.

(d) Cooperate with the staff in any subsequent investigations of the slamming complaint.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in Chapter 4901:1-28 of the Administrative Code, if the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator cannot produce valid documentation confirming that the customer authorized the switch, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the customer was switched without authorization. Such documentation includes one of the following, in conformance with the requirements of rule 4901:1-29-06 of the Administrative Code:

(a) A signed contract, in the case of direct enrollment.

(b) An audio recording, in the case of telephonic enrollment.

(c) Electronic consent, in the case of internet enrollment.

(4) In the event that the customer was switched from one retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator to a different retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator without authorization, the customer's previous retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall re-enroll the customer without penalty under such customer's original contract price for the duration of the original term and send the incumbent natural gas company an electronic enrollment request. If the original retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator is unable to return the customer to the original contract price, the original retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator may enroll the customer in a new contract pursuant to the provisions of rule 4901:1-29-06 of the Administrative Code, or the customer may select a new retail natural gas supplier or return to the incumbent natural gas company's regulated sales service.

(5) In the event that a customer was switched from a natural gas company regulated sales service commodity service to a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator without authorization, the natural gas company shall switch the customer back to the natural gas company's regulated sales service without penalty.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22 , 4905.06
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22 , 4929.23 , 4905.04 , 4905.05
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-29-09 Customer information.

(A) Upon customer request, a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (and/or its agent) shall timely provide the customer's payment history for services rendered by the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator (up to twenty-four months) to the customer without charge.

(B) Other than for operation, maintenance, assignment and transfer of a customer's account, no retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall disclose a customer's account number without a customer's affirmative written or electronic authorization or pursuant to a court or commission order. No retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall disclose a social security number without first obtaining the signature of the customer on a release or pursuant to a court order. The release shall be on a separate piece of paper. The release shall be clearly identified on its face as a release of personal information and all text appearing on the release shall be in at least sixteen-point type. The following statement shall appear prominently on the release, just prior to the signature, in type darker and larger than the type in surrounding sentences: "I realize that, under the rules and regulations of the public utilities commission of Ohio, I may refuse to allow (name of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator) to release the information set forth above. By my signature, I freely give (name of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator) permission to release the information designated above." The information that the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator seeks to release shall be specified on the form. Forms requiring a customer to circle or to check off preprinted types of information to be released may not be used. In addition, a customer's social security number shall not be used for any other purpose other than to perform a credit check.

(C) A natural gas company shall:

(1) Not disclose a customer's account number, without the customer's affirmative written or electronic authorization or pursuant to a court or commission order, except for purposes of commercial collection, percentage of income payment plan aggregation and governmental aggregation. In addition, a customer's social security number shall not be used for any other purpose other than to perform a credit check and for credit reporting and shall not be otherwise disclosed without the customer's written consent or pursuant to a court order.

(2) Upon request, timely provide a customer's usage history (twelve months) and payment history (twenty-four months) to the customer without charge.

(3) Provide generic customer and usage information, in a universal file format, to other retail natural gas suppliers on a comparable and nondiscriminatory.

(4) Provide customer-specific information to retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators on a comparable and nondiscriminatory basis as prescribed in paragraph (C) of rule 4901:1-29-13 of the Administrative Code, unless the customer objects to the disclosure of such information.

(5) Prior to issuing any eligible-customer lists and at least four times per calendar year, provide all customers clear written notice, in billing statements or other communications, of their right to object to being included on such lists. Such notice shall include instructions for reporting such objection. This notice shall read as follows:

"We are required to include your name, address, and usage information on a list of eligible customers that is made available to other retail natural gas suppliers or governmental aggregators. If you do not wish to be included on this list, please call _________ or write ___________________, or complete the appropriate form on ________________ website".

(6) If a customer reports such objection as provided in paragraphs (C)(4) and (C)(5) of this rule, the natural gas company shall not release such information unless and until the customer affirmatively indicates that the information may be released.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22 , 4905.04 , 4905.05 , 4905.06
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-29-10 Contract administration and renewals.

(A) Retail natural gas suppliers and opt-in governmental aggregators shall arrange for the provision of competitive retail natural gas service by contracting with their customers. In their administration of such contracts, retail natural gas suppliers and opt-in governmental aggregators are prohibited from engaging in unfair, deceptive, misleading, and unconscionable acts and practices.

(B) Retail natural gas suppliers and opt-in governmental aggregators shall maintain copies of individual customer contracts for no less than two years after such contracts terminate.

For any contract where the customer's signature is not physically on the same document as the complete terms and conditions of such contract, the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator must assign a unique version number to each version of the contract. Such version number must appear on the document containing the customer's actual signature, on the copy of the terms and conditions left with the customer, and on a master copy of the complete terms and conditions of the contract. Both the document containing the customer's physical signature and the master copy of the complete terms and conditions must be retained in accordance with this rule. This provision shall not apply where the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator has obtained the customer's consent by telephone or internet enrollment.

(C) In its administration of customer contracts, a retail natural gas supplier and an opt-in governmental aggregator shall also:

(1) Not assign a customer contract to another retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator without:

(a) Providing a minimum of fourteen days written notice to the director of the service monitoring and enforcement department or the director's designee before the contract assignment. Such notice shall include:

(i) The name of the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator to whom the contract(s) will be assigned.

(ii) The type of contract(s) to be assigned (e.g., residential, small commercial).

(iii) The number of contracts to be assigned.

(iv) The incumbent natural gas company involved.

(v) The date of the assignment.

(vi) A copy of the customer notification.

(b) Providing prior written notice to the customer.

(2) When assigned a contract previously administered by another retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator, comply with all terms and conditions in effect for the contract before the assignment occurred.

(3) Comply in a timely manner with all valid notices from customers to cancel or terminate the contract as provided for by the contract and by this chapter.

(4) Assign a number to each version of its standard contract form (including changes in contract price), retain such forms for no less than two years, and provide copies to staff within three business days of request.

(D) Customers shall have the right to rescind their contracts, within seven business days following the postmark date on the natural gas company's confirmation notice:

(1) By calling the incumbent natural gas company at the designated toll-free or local telephone number.

(2) By written notice to the incumbent natural gas company which is effective as of the date of the postmark.

(E) Contract renewals shall comply with the provisions of this paragraph.

(1) A material change, for purposes of contract renewals, includes but is not limited to any new fee or penalty or any change to an existing fee or penalty, any change from a fixed rate to a variable rate or vice versa, any increase in a fixed rate, any change to a formula used to calculate a variable rate, or any change to the factors used to determine a variable rate.

(2) Contract renewal notices required under this paragraph shall, unless otherwise specified, meet the following minimum requirements:

(a) The notice shall be made by separate mailing (envelope or postcard), the front cover of which shall state: "Important notice regarding your natural gas service contract."

(b) The notice shall state the current contract's expiration date and length of any renewal period.

(c) The renewal period for contracts with renewal provisions shall not exceed the initial contract period.

(d) The notice must clearly explain how the customer may terminate, renew, and/or extend the contract or, if the contract will renew automatically, the manner in which the customer may cancel the contract and the time period during which the customer must act to cancel the contract.

(e) If the renewed contract will contain any material change, as compared with the contract that is currently effective, then the notice shall clearly explain to the customer each such material change to the contract. However, if the contract renewal is covered by paragraph (E)(5) of this rule, then the inclusion of the new rate in the first notice shall be governed by that paragraph.

(3) For contracts with a renewal period of six months or longer that contain no material changes (as defined in this rule), the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall provide the required notice at least forty-five days, but not more than ninety days, in advance of the contract expiration date.

(4) For renewals of six months or longer that contain any material change to the contract and after renewal, will contain an early termination or cancellation option with a fee greater than twenty-five dollars for early termination or cancellation or contain no option for early termination or cancellation, the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall comply with the following provisions:

(a) The retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall provide to the customer notice of the contract expiration at least forty-five days, but not more than ninety days, in advance of such expiration date.

(b) The retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall obtain the customer's affirmative consent to all material changes pursuant to any of the enrollment procedures established in rule 4901:1-29-06 of the Administrative Code.

(c) The retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall notify the customer that no response will result in the customer automatically reverting to the natural gas company unless the customer chooses another retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator.

(5) For contract renewals of six months or longer that contain any material change and, after renewal, will contain an early termination or cancellation option with a fee of twenty-five dollars or less for early termination or cancellation, the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall comply with the following provisions:

(a) The retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall provide the customer with two separate notices.

(b) Each notice shall state that the customer contract will renew at the new rate unless the customer affirmatively cancels the contract.

(c) The first notice shall be provided at least forty-five days, but not more than ninety days, in advance of the contract expiration date. The first notice need not include the new rate at which the customer contract will be renewed but, if it does not include that new rate, it must set forth the date on which the second notice will be delivered, the method of delivery that will be used for the second notice, and a statement that the second notice will include the new rate.

(d) The second notice may be in writing in accordance with the requirements of this rule, by telephone, by a notice on the customer's monthly bill, or by electronic mail. The notice shall be provided for customer receipt at least thirty-five days prior to contract expiration.

(i) In the event that the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator provides notice by telephone, the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator must confirm that the customer of record is on the line, clearly explain both the new contract price and the manner in which the customer may cancel the contract, record the entire conversation, and retain such recording in a manner consistent with rule 4901:1-29-06 of the Administrative Code.

(ii) In the event that the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator provides notice on the customer's monthly bill, such notice must be in a different color, highlighted, or otherwise differentiated from the remainder of the bill.

(iii) In the event that the customer has affirmatively consented to receive notifications by electronic mail, then the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator may provide notice by electronic mail, which notice must: (a) state "Important notice regarding your natural gas service contract" in the subject area of the message, (b) be from an electronic mail address that is readily identifiable as the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator, and (c) include a receipt returned to the sender which confirms that the addressee has opened the document.

(F) Each customer shall have the right to terminate the contract with a retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator, without penalty, in either of the following two circumstances:

(1) The customer relocates outside the territory of the incumbent natural gas company or within the territory of an incumbent natural gas company that does not permit portability of the contract.

(2) The contract allows the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator to terminate the contract for any reason other than customer nonpayment or the occurrence of a force majeure event, including but not limited to a change in any governing law or regulation that physically prevents or legally prohibits the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator from performing under the terms of the contract.

(G) No retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator contract shall limit or preclude a customer's right to make formal or informal complaints to the commission. A retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator shall not require a customer as part of the terms of service to engage in alternative dispute resolution.

(H) Account numbers and social security numbers shall be held pursuant to the following provisions:

(1) Other than for operation, maintenance, assignment and transfer of a customer's account or, where a retail natural gas supplier is performing billing services, for commercial collection, a retail natural gas supplier shall not disclose a customer's account number without the customer's affirmative written or electronic authorization, which authorization must comply with paragraph (B) of rule 4901:1-29-9 of the Administrative Code, or pursuant to a court or commission order. Other than for credit checking and credit reporting by a retail natural gas supplier that is performing billing services, a retail natural gas supplier shall not disclose a customer's social security number without the customer's affirmative written consent or pursuant to a court order.

(2) Other than for commercial collection, percentage of income payment plan aggregation, and governmental aggregation, a natural gas company shall not disclose a customer's account number without the customer's affirmative written or electronic authorization, which authorization must comply with paragraph (B) of rule 4901:1-29-9 of the Administrative Code, or pursuant to a court or commission order. Other than for credit checking and credit reporting, a natural gas company shall not disclose a customer's social security number without the customer's affirmative written consent or pursuant to a court order.

Effective: 02/27/2009
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22 , 4929.27 , 4905.04 , 4905.05 , 4905.06
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 4/13/07

4901:1-29-11 Contract disclosure.

(A) All retail natural gas supplier and opt-in governmental aggregator customer contracts shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) A notification that switching fees may apply to a customer under the incumbent natural gas company's tariff.

(2) A notification that the customer has the right to request from the retail natural gas supplier and opt-in governmental aggregator up to twenty-four months of the customer's payment history for services rendered by the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator without charge.

(B) In addition, all retail natural gas supplier and opt-in governmental aggregator contracts with customers shall include, but not be limited to, the following information (to be stated in clear and understandable language):

(1) The retail natural gas supplier's and opt-in governmental aggregator's name, mailing address, internet address (if applicable), and a toll-free telephone number (with hours of operation and time zone reference) for customer contacts.

(2) The services to be provided by the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator and those to be provided by the incumbent natural gas company, including which entity will bill for those services.

(3) The seven business-day period during which a customer has to rescind such contract without penalty and the methods for customers to make such rescission by contacting the incumbent natural gas company (orally or in writing).

(4) The respective policies, procedures, and any penalties for contract termination by the retail natural gas supplier and opt-in governmental aggregator and by the customer after the rescission period, including any change in such policies, procedures, and penalties that will become effective upon renewal of the contract.

(5) A notification as to the consequences of nonpayment:

(a) In the case where a retail natural gas supplier and/or opt-in governmental aggregator bills for its own services, a notification that, should the customer fail to pay the bill or fail to meet any agreed-upon payment arrangement, the customer's contract may be terminated by the retail natural gas supplier and/or opt-in governmental aggregator on fourteen days' notice and that early termination penalties may apply.

(b) In the case where the natural gas company bills for the commodity service of a retail natural gas supplier and/or opt-in governmental aggregator, a notification that, should the customer fail to pay the bill or fail to meet any agreed-upon payment arrangement, the customer's service may be terminated in accordance with the incumbent natural gas company's tariffs and the customer's contract with its retail natural gas supplier and/or opt-in governmental aggregator may be automatically terminated, leading to early termination penalties.

(6) A statement that the contract automatically terminates if any of the following occurs:

(a) The requested service location is not served by the incumbent natural gas company.

(b) The customer moves outside the incumbent natural gas company service area or to an area not served by the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator.

(c) The retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator returns the customer to the customer's incumbent natural gas company's sales service, provided that the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator is permitted to terminate the contract under the terms and conditions of the contract.

(7) Notification regarding contract termination by the customer:

(a) A statement that the customer has a right to terminate the contract without penalty in the event the customer relocates outside the service territory of the incumbent natural gas company or within the service territory of an incumbent natural gas company that does not permit portability of the contract.

(b) If the contract allows the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator the right to terminate the contract for any reason other than those reasons set forth in paragraph (F)(2) of rule 4901:1-29-10 of the Administrative Code, then a statement that the customer has a right to terminate the contract without penalty at any time.

(8) An itemized list and explanation of all prices in clear and understandable language and fees associated with the service such that:

(a) For fixed-rate offers, such information shall, at minimum, include: the cost per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format, for competitive retail natural gas service; the amount of any other recurring or nonrecurring retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator charges; and a statement that the customer will incur additional charges for the incumbent natural gas company's services.

(b) For variable-rate offers, such information shall, at minimum, include the amount of any other recurring or nonrecurring retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator charges; a statement that the customer will incur additional charges for the incumbent natural gas company's services; and either of the following options:

(i) A clear and understandable formula, based on publicly available indices or data, that the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator will use to determine the rate that will be charged.

(ii) A clear and understandable explanation of the factors that will cause the price per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format, to vary (including any related indices) and how often the price can change. In the event that the retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator chooses to follow this option, then no early termination fee may be charged.

(9) The terms and conditions of service, including any restrictions and limitations associated with the service or product offered.

(10) Procedures for handling complaints and disputes, including the following:

"If your complaint is not resolved after you have called (name of retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator), or for general utility information, residential and business customers may contact the public utilities commission of Ohio (PUCO) for assistance at 1-800-686-7826 (toll free) from eight a.m. to five p.m. weekdays, or at http://www.puco.ohio.gov. Hearing or speech impaired customers may contact the PUCO via 7-1-1 (Ohio relay service)."

(11) A statement that:

" The Ohio consumers' counsel (OCC) represents residential utility customers in matters before the PUCO. The OCC can be contacted at 1-877-742-5622 (toll free) from eight a.m. to five p.m. weekdays, or at http://www.pickocc.org."

(12) Billing intervals and any late payment fees.

(13) Contract duration, including the estimated starting and expiration month and year.

(14) Whether the contract contains an automatic renewal provision and the terms of such provision.

(15) Any credit, deposit, and collection procedures, including terms and conditions associated with the return of any deposit at the time of contract termination.

(16) Who will bill for the retail natural gas supplier's and opt-in governmental aggregator's service(s).

(17) A notification that the customer's social security number and/or account number(s) will not be released without the customer's affirmative written consent except where such release is required by court order or by commission order or rule.

(18) If applicable, a notification that, if the customer voluntarily returns to the incumbent natural gas company after choosing a retail natural gas supplier or opt-in governmental aggregator, the customer may be charged a price other than the incumbent natural gas company's regulated sales service rate.

Effective: 02/16/2012
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4905.261 , 4929.22 , 4929.27 , 4911.021
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 4/6/06, 4/13/07, 2/11/08, 2/27/09

4901:1-29-12 Customer billing and payments.

(A) A retail natural gas supplier, governmental aggregator, or an agent may bill customers directly for competitive retail natural gas services pursuant to this rule. A retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator may bill for consolidated services if it can demonstrate, pursuant to the standards contained in the incumbent natural gas company tariffs, to the incumbent natural gas company and the commission it has the capability to bill customers for such services.

(B) Customer bills issued by or for retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators shall be accurate and understandable, be rendered at intervals consistent with those of the customer's natural gas company, and contain sufficient information for customers to compute and compare the total cost of competitive retail natural gas service(s). Such bills shall also include:

(1) The customer's name, billing address, service address, the customer's natural gas company account number, and if applicable, the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator account number.

(2) The dates of service covered by the bill, an itemization of each type of competitive retail natural gas service covered by the bill, any related billing components, the charge for each type of natural gas service, and an itemization of all other fees and charges.

(3) The customer's historical consumption during each of the preceding twelve months or each of the preceding months that the customer has been a customer of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator, whichever is less; with a total consumption and an overall average monthly consumption for such period.

(4) The applicable billing determinants, including beginning meter reading(s), ending meter reading(s), multiplier(s), and any other consumption(s) adjustments.

(5) The unit price charged per Ccf or Mcf, whichever is consistent with the incumbent natural gas company's billing format, for competitive retail natural gas service, as calculated by dividing current-period competitive retail natural gas service charges by the current-period consumption.

(6) An identification of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator of each retail natural gas service appearing on the bill.

(7) The amount billed for the current period, any unpaid amounts due from previous periods, any payments or credits applied to the customer's account during the current period, any late payment charges or gross and net charges, if applicable, and the total amount due and payable.

(8) The due date for payment to keep the account current. Such due date shall be consistent with that provided by the incumbent natural gas company for its charges.

(9) Current balance of the account, if a residential customer is billed according to a budget plan.

(10) Options and instructions on how customers may make their payments.

(11) A toll-free or local telephone number and address for customer billing questions or complaints must appear for any retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator whose charges appear on the bill.

(12) The following statement: "If your complaint is not resolved after you have called (name the retail natural gas company or governmental aggregator), or for general utility information, residential and business customers may contact the public utilities commission of Ohio (PUCO) for assistance at 1-800-686-7826 (toll free) from eight a.m. to five p.m. weekdays, or at http://www.puco.ohio.gov. Hearing or speech impaired customers may contact the PUCO via 7-1-1 (Ohio relay service).

The Ohio consumers' counsel (OCC) represents residential utility customers in matters before the PUCO. The OCC can be contacted at 1-877-742-5622 (toll free) from eight a.m. to five p.m. weekdays, or at http://www.pickocc.org."

(13) The incumbent natural gas company's twenty-four hour local/toll-free telephone number for reporting service emergencies.

(14) Identification of estimated bills or bills not based upon actual end-of-period meter readings for the period.

(15) An explanation of any codes and abbreviations used.

(C) If applicable, each retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator shall, upon request, provide customers with the name and street address/location of the nearest payment center and/or authorized payment agent and disclose any fee associated with using such payment center and/or agent.

(D) When a customer pays the bill at a payment center or to an authorized payment agent, such payment shall be credited to the customer's account as of the day it is received by such payment center or agent.

(E) Each retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator shall establish policies and procedures for handling billing disputes and requests for payment arrangements.

(F) Partial payments applied towards any past due amount on a bill or the balance due on a disconnection notice must be apportioned to past due natural gas company service and delivery charges, then to any current natural gas company service and delivery charges, before being applied to any retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator charges unless the customer pays the entire amount past due or more. In that case, any amount paid over the amount past due shall be applied first to natural gas company service and delivery charges.

(G) Natural gas companies shall make dual billing and consolidated billing available to retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators.

(1) If the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator elects for its charges to be included on the incumbent natural gas company's consolidated bill:

(a) The retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall furnish the incumbent natural gas company sufficient bill contents as required by paragraph (B) of this rule.

(b) The incumbent natural gas company shall produce a consolidated bill including all such required contents provided by the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator if it is not already on the customer's bill from the incumbent natural gas company. However, the consolidated bill may provide the following amounts on a consolidated basis only: budget amounts, past due balances, and payments applied.

(c) The consolidated bill shall state the name of the applicable retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator in close proximity to the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator commodity charges.

(d) The incumbent natural gas company shall offer budget billing of retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator charges as a customer-elected option.

(2) If the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator elects a dual billing arrangement, the incumbent natural gas company's bill shall include the name of the applicable retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator and a statement that such retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator is responsible for billing the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator charges.

(H) Customer bills issued by or for a natural gas company shall state the customer's historical consumption during each of the preceding twelve months, with a total and average consumption for such twelve-month period.

(I) Natural gas companies shall prominently display the "apples to apples" notice on customer bills for customers. The staff shall review such notice.

(J) Natural gas companies shall not disconnect a customer's natural gas service in the event the customer has registered a complaint with the commission's call center or filed a formal complaint with the commission which reasonably asserts a bona fide dispute. In that case, the company shall not disconnect service if the customer pays either the undisputed portion of the bill, if known or can reasonably be determined, or the amount billed for the same billing period in the previous year.

(K) For the purposes of this rule, full payment of a budget amount due shall not be construed as a partial payment.

(L) In the event the retail natural gas supplier and/or opt-in governmental aggregator bills for its own services, the retail natural gas supplier and/or governmental aggregator may terminate the contract for customer nonpayment only upon fourteen days' notice.

(M) Any competitive retail natural gas service supplier that bills for both regulated and unregulated service shall comply with paragraphs (E) and (F) of rule 4901:1-13-11 of the Administrative Code.

Effective: 02/16/2012
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.29
Rule Amplifies: 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.07 , 4905.261 , 4929.22 , 4929.26 , 4929.27 , 4911.021
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02, 4/6/06, 4/13/07, 2/11/08, 12/27/08

4901:1-29-13 Coordination between natural gas companies and retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators.

(A) At a minimum, the incumbent natural gas company tariff shall include provisions governing the relationship between the retail natural gas supplier and the governmental aggregator for competitive retail natural gas service. Such provisions shall address:

(1) Nomination and deliveries.

(2) Billing (between the incumbent natural gas company and the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator).

(3) Customer billing (options, collection, application of customer payments).

(4) Measurement of delivered volume.

(5) Shrinkage and retainable factors.

(6) Customer enrollment process information exchange.

(7) Dispute resolution process (between the incumbent natural gas company and the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator).

(8) Standard operating rules.

(9) Performance standards of the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(10) Creditworthiness and default security.

(11) Supplier agreement.

(12) A listing and description of all fees and charges assessed to retail natural gas suppliers or governmental aggregators.

(13) Service termination and disconnection (of end-user customer).

(14) Conditions and processes for returning customers to the incumbent natural gas company's commodity service.

(15) Customer enrollment and switching.

(16) Supplier proof of certification.

(B) A natural gas company shall execute a supplier agreement with each retail natural gas supplier and governmental aggregator to operate under the terms of the natural gas company's tariff. At a minimum, the supplier agreement shall include representations and warranties, indemnification, limitations on liability, default (breach), remedies, force majeure, commencement, and term.

(C) Natural gas companies shall make eligible-customer lists available to certified retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators via electronic media. Such lists shall be updated quarterly and shall, at a minimum, contain customer name, service and mailing addresses, load profile reference category, meter read date or schedule, and historical consumption data for each of the most recent twelve months.

(D) Customers returning to the incumbent natural gas company.

(1) Any customer returning to the incumbent natural gas company's commodity service due to default, abandonment, slamming, or certification rescission of a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator will not be liable for any costs associated with the switch.

(2) Any switching fee applicable to customers switching from one marketer to another marketer shall also apply to customers switching from a marketer to regulated sales service.

(3) Customers participating in an opt-out government aggregation program will not be charged a switching fee upon returning to regulated sales service due to either termination of the aggregation or the aggregator switching suppliers.

(4) Any customer returned to the incumbent natural gas company's regulated sales service shall pay the applicable regulated sales service rate while taking such service.

(5) Within two business days after confirming the validated electronic data file for a retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's customer drop request, the incumbent natural gas company shall mail the customer a notice stating both of the following:

(a) The incumbent natural gas company has received a request to drop the customer from competitive retail natural gas service or governmental aggregation with the named retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(b) The retail natural gas supplier's or governmental aggregator's toll-free telephone number.

(E) Within three business days of notifying a retail natural gas supplier of a customer cancellation the incumbent natural gas company shall provide to the customer by mail a notice stating all of the following:

(1) The incumbent natural gas company has received the cancellation request from the customer and has notified the customer's retail natural gas supplier of the cancellation.

(2) The date the incumbent natural gas company received the cancellation.

(3) The incumbent natural gas company's toll-free telephone number.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.22
Rule Amplifies: 4929.22 , 4929.26 , 4929.27 , 4905.04 , 4905.05 , 4905.06
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02