4929.04 Exempting commodity sales service or ancillary service of natural gas company from other rate provisions.

(A) The public utilities commission, upon the application of a natural gas company, after notice, after affording the public a period for comment, and in the case of a natural gas company with fifteen thousand or more customers after a hearing and in the case of a natural gas company with fewer than fifteen thousand customers after a hearing if the commission considers a hearing necessary, shall exempt, by order, any commodity sales service or ancillary service of the natural gas company from all provisions of Chapter 4905. with the exception of section 4905.10 , Chapter 4909., and Chapter 4935. with the exception of sections 4935.01 and 4935.03 of the Revised Code, from sections 4933.08 , 4933.09 , 4933.11 , 4933.123 , 4933.17 , 4933.28 , and 4933.32 of the Revised Code, and from any rule or order issued under those Chapters or sections, including the obligation under section 4905.22 of the Revised Code to provide the commodity sales service or ancillary service, subject to divisions (D) and (E) of this section, and provided the commission finds that the natural gas company is in substantial compliance with the policy of this state specified in section 4929.02 of the Revised Code and that either of the following conditions exists:

(1) The natural gas company is subject to effective competition with respect to the commodity sales service or ancillary service;

(2) The customers of the commodity sales service or ancillary service have reasonably available alternatives.

(B) In determining whether the conditions in division (A)(1) or (2) of this section exist, factors the commission shall consider include, but are not limited to:

(1) The number and size of alternative providers of the commodity sales service or ancillary service;

(2) The extent to which the commodity sales service or ancillary service is available from alternative providers in the relevant market;

(3) The ability of alternative providers to make functionally equivalent or substitute services readily available at competitive prices, terms, and conditions;

(4) Other indicators of market power, which may include market share, growth in market share, ease of entry, and the affiliation of providers of services.

(C) The applicant shall have the burden of proof under this section.

(D) The commission shall not issue an order under division (A) of this section that exempts all of a natural gas company's commodity sales services from the chapters and sections specified in that division unless the commission finds that the company offers distribution services on a fully open, equal, and unbundled basis to all its customers and that all such customers reasonably may acquire commodity sales services from suppliers other than the natural gas company.

(E) An order exempting any or all of a natural gas company's commodity sales services or ancillary services under division (A) of this section shall prescribe both of the following:

(1) A separation plan that ensures, to the maximum extent practicable, that the operations, resources, and employees involved in the provision or marketing of exempt commodity sales services or ancillary services, and the books and records associated with those services, shall be separate from the operations, resources, and employees involved in the provision or marketing of nonexempt commodity sales services or ancillary services and the books and records associated with those services;

(2) A code of conduct that governs both the company's adherence to the state policy specified in section 4929.02 of the Revised Code and its sharing of information and resources between those employees involved in the provision or marketing of exempt commodity sales services or ancillary services and those employees involved in the provision or marketing of nonexempt commodity sales services or ancillary services. The commission, however, shall not prescribe, as part of any such separation plan or code of conduct, any requirement that unreasonably limits or restricts a company's ability to compete with unregulated providers of commodity sales services or ancillary services.

(F) Notwithstanding division (A)(2) of section 4929.08 of the Revised Code or any exemption granted under division (A) of this section, the commission has jurisdiction under section 4905.26 of the Revised Code, upon complaint of any person or upon the complaint or initiative of the commission, to determine whether a natural gas company has failed to comply with a separation plan or code of conduct prescribed under division (E) of this section. If, after notice and hearing as provided in section 4905.26 of the Revised Code, the commission is of the opinion that a natural gas company has failed to comply with such a plan or code, the commission may do any of the following:

(1) Issue an order directing the company to comply with the plan or code;

(2) Modify the plan or code, if the commission finds that such a modification is reasonable and appropriate, and order the company to comply with the plan or code as modified;

(3) Abrogate the order granting the company's exemption under division (A) of this section, if the commission finds that the company has engaged in one or more material violations of the plan or code, that the violation or violations were intentional, and that the abrogation is in the public interest.

(G) An order issued under division (F) of this section is enforceable in the manner set forth in section 4905.60 of the Revised Code. Any violation of such an order shall be deemed a violation of a commission order for the purpose of section 4905.54 of the Revised Code.

Cite as R.C. § 4929.04

History. Effective Date: 09-17-1996; 05-27-2005