Chapter 4901:1-34 Noncompliance

4901:1-34-01 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

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

(B) "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.

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

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

(E) "Staff" means the staff of the public utilities commission of Ohio.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 07/30/2014 and 07/30/2019
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.01 , 4929.10 , 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.24 , 4905.54 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-02 Purpose and scope.

(A) The rules contained in this chapter prescribe procedures for the commission staff to administer and enforce the rules for the certification of retail natural gas service suppliers and governmental aggregators and the minimum requirements for competitive retail natural gas set forth in Chapters 4901:1-27 and 4901:1-29 of the Administrative Code, and commission orders issued thereunder.

(B) This chapter also governs proceedings of the commission to:

(1) Investigate and determine a natural gas company's, retail natural gas supplier's, or governmental aggregator's compliance with Chapters 4901:1-13, 4901:1-27 and 4901:1-29 of the Administrative Code, and commission orders issued thereunder.

(2) Review settlement agreements and approve stipulations by the staff and the natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator.

(3) Issue and enforce compliance orders.

(4) Assess forfeitures.

(5) Direct the attorney general to seek enforcement of commission orders, including orders authorizing forfeitures, and appropriate remedies in court to protect the public safety, reliability, and customer service.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.24 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-03 Staff notice of probable noncompliance, proposed corrective action, and proposed forfeiture.

(A) After an inspection, investigation, or complaint, a staff notice of probable noncompliance may be issued. The staff notice of probable noncompliance may be issued with a proposed corrective action and/or a proposed forfeiture.

(B) The staff may issue an amended notice of probable noncompliance, proposed corrective action, or proposed forfeiture at any time prior to the commencement of a compliance proceeding or other commission proceeding brought pursuant to rule 4901:1-34-05 of the Administrative Code, in order to modify or include additional probable noncompliances or violations, facts, proposed forfeitures, and proposed compliance orders. Once the commission initiates a compliance or other proceeding pursuant to rule 4901:1-34-05 of the Administrative Code, this rule does not prevent the staff during the course of such proceeding from seeking a finding of violations not listed in the staff notice or amended staff notice of probable noncompliance(or rescinding or refraining from seeking a finding of violations) or from seeking a corrective action or proposed forfeiture that varies from previous staff notices issued under this rule, provided that the staff's proposed findings and/or violations relate to the same incident, type of incident, investigation, or audit(s).

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.24 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-04 Service of staff notices of probable noncompliance, proposed corrective action, proposed forfeiture, and service of staff investigative reports.

(A) Staff notices of probable noncompliance, proposed corrective actions, proposed forfeitures, and amendments thereto under rule 4901:1-34-03 of the Administrative Code, and investigative reports under rule 4901:1-34-05 of the Administrative Code, shall be served on the natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator by certified United States mail or hand delivery. Certified mail service and service by hand delivery is effective upon receipt by any employee, agent of, or person designated by the natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator. Unless otherwise provided in this paragraph, service upon a natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator shall be made at the address designated as the service address in the company's most recent annual financial report, in its certification application, or certification renewal application.

(B) Each natural gas company, or retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator shall provide the commission with the company's or provider's current service address. If the service address has changed since the most recent annual report, certification application or certification renewal application was submitted to the commission, or the service address or business address has not been disclosed to the commission, service shall be made at any business address known to the commission.

(C) If the certified mail envelope is returned with an endorsement showing failure of delivery, then service may be made by ordinary United States mail and is effective on the date of mailing.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.24 , 4929.01 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-05 Settlement agreements and stipulations.

(A) If staff and the natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator reach agreement regarding any of the following: the violation of a rule within this chapter, or Chapter 4901:1-27 or 4901:1-29 of the Administrative Code, the violation of any provision of Chapter 4929. of the Revised Code, the violation of a commission order; a proposed corrective action or remedy; or the amount of a forfeiture or other payment, the agreement must be reduced to writing in a settlement agreement. Such agreement shall be signed by an officer of the company or its attorney and the assistant attorney general who serves as legal counsel for the commission staff. Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (B) of this rule, the settlement agreement shall not be effective until:

(1) The stipulation is filed with the commission for approval pursuant to a compliance or other proceeding.

(2) The stipulation is approved by and made the order of the commission.

(B) If the settlement agreement provides for the payment of a forfeiture or other payment by a natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier of one thousand dollars or less, the agreement shall be accepted by the commission and fully enforceable upon the natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier upon its execution.

(C) Unless contained in or otherwise provided in a stipulation, no statement or conduct during settlement negotiations is admissible in any commission proceeding regarding the noncompliance.

(D) Where a natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier has demonstrated to the staff's satisfaction, as confirmed in writing from the commission's director of the service monitoring and enforcement department or the director of utilities department or his/her designee, that the violation(s) listed in the staff notice (or amended staff notice) of probable noncompliance or investigative report has been corrected and where the company submits full payment of the proposed forfeiture prior to the execution of a written settlement agreement or final commission order, the violation(s) listed in such staff notice of probable noncompliance shall only be considered by the commission as part of the company's history of violations in determining the appropriate forfeiture or corrective action for any future violation. If a company pays a proposed forfeiture of more than one thousand dollars without executing a written settlement agreement, the payment shall be fully effective when approved by and made the order of the commission.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.24 , 4929.01 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-06 Commission proceedings.

(A) The commission may initiate a compliance or other proceeding upon its own initiative, after an incident has occurred, after a complaint is filed pursuant to section 4905.26 of the Revised Code, or after a staff notice of probable noncompliance is served.

(B) The commission shall conduct such compliance or other proceeding in accordance with Chapter 4901-1 of the Administrative Code.

(C) Unless otherwise ordered by the commission or an attorney examiner the staff shall file with the commission and serve upon the natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator a written report of investigation (investigative report) in each proceeding within forty-five days after the commission issues an entry initiating a compliance proceeding. The investigative report shall present:

(1) The findings on any alleged noncompliance specified in any staff notice or amended staff notice, which also may include:

(a) Noncompliances not included in any staff notice or amended staff notice, provided that such additional noncompliances relate to the same incident, investigation, or safety audit(s) referenced in the initial or amended staff notice.

(b) Staff's findings on the natural gas company's, retail natural gas supplier's, or governmental aggregator's practices and policies.

(2) Staff's recommendations for commission action.

(D) The commission shall hold an evidentiary hearing on all proceedings initiated under this rule. The hearing may include evidence on the issues of proposed corrective action, compliance orders issued by the commission, forfeitures, enforcement of a commission order, and other remedies.

(E) If, after a hearing, the commission finds a natural gas company, retail natural gas supplier, or governmental aggregator has violated or is violating Chapter 4929. of the Revised Code, or Chapter 4901:1-27 or 4901:1-29 of the Administrative Code, this chapter, or any order adopted thereunder, the commission, by order:

(1) Shall require the natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator to comply with Chapter 4929. of the Revised Code, Chapter 4901:1-27 or 4901:1-29 of the Administrative Code, this chapter, or any commission order thereunder; and to undertake corrective action necessary to protect the public safety, reliability, and customer service. The commission is not restricted in the making of the compliance order by the terms of any proposed corrective action and/or forfeiture by the staff.

(2) May assess forfeitures upon a natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier of not more than one thousand dollars for each day of each violation. Each day's continuance of the violation is a separate offense.

(3) May revoke the certificate of a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator.

(4) May direct the attorney general to seek enforcement of commission orders, including orders authorizing forfeitures, and appropriate remedies in court.

(5) May determine other appropriate remedies to protect the public safety, reliability, and customer service.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.24 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-07 Payment of forfeitures and other payments.

(A) All forfeitures and other payments shall be paid by certified check or money order made payable to "Treasurer, State of Ohio," and shall be mailed or delivered to: "Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Fiscal Division, 180 East Broad Street, Thirteenth Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3793".

(B) All instruments of payment shall contain the identifying number of the violation/staff notice (e.g. docket number) for which payment is tendered.

(C) No natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier may recover any forfeiture, or other payment in any pending or subsequent proceeding before the commission.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.24 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02

4901:1-34-08 Noncompliance with rules or orders.

(A) Any natural gas company or retail natural gas supplier that fails to comply with the rules and standards in Chapters 4901:1-13, 4901:1-27, 4901:1-29 and 4901:1-34 of the Administrative Code or commission order adopted thereunder may, after opportunity for hearing, be subject to any and all of the following available under the law, including but not limited to:

(1) Forfeiture to the state of not more than one thousand dollars for each such failure. Each day's continuance of the violation is a separate offense.

(2) Rescission of a customer contract.

(3) Restitution to the customer.

(4) Suspension, rescission, or conditional rescission of certification.

(B) Any natural gas company that fails to comply with division (D) of section 4929.20 or division (C) of section 4929.29 of the Revised Code, may be subject to any and all of the following available under the law, including but not limited to:

(1) Forfeiture to the state of not more than one thousand dollars for each such failure. Each day's continuance of the violation is a separate offense.

(2) Corrective action to make compliance.

(C) Any governmental aggregator that fails to comply with the rules and standards in Chapters 4901:1-27, 4901:1-28, 4901:1-29 and 4901:1-34 of the Administrative Code or commission order adopted thereunder may after opportunity for hearing, be subject to any and all of the following available under the law, including but not limited to:

(1) Suspension, rescission, or conditional rescission of certification.

(2) Rescission of a customer contract.

(3) Restitution to a customer.

Effective: 04/13/2007
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/24/2007 and 11/30/2011
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4929.24 , 4905.54
Rule Amplifies: 4929.01 , 4929.24 , 4905.05 , 4905.06 , 4905.26 , 4905.54
Prior Effective Dates: 7/4/02