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Subject 515-7-8 SERVICE QUALITY STANDARDS FOR CERTIFICATED MARKETERS AND REGULATED PROVIDERS

Rule 515-7-8-.01 Commission Authority and Scope

The Georgia Legislature has empowered the Georgia Public Service Commission to promulgate rules and regulations to establish service quality standards for each certificated marketer and regulated provider in Georgia.

Rule 515-7-8-.02 Definitions

Terms used in these rules have the following meaning:

(a) "Act" means the Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act, as provided for in O.C.G.A. § 46-4-150 et seq.
(b) "Ancillary service" means a service that is ancillary to the receipt or delivery of natural gas, including without limitation storage, balancing, peaking, and customer services.
(c) "Commission" means the Georgia Public Service Commission.
(d) "Commodity sales service" means the sale of natural gas exclusive of any distribution or ancillary service.
(e) "Consumer" means a retail customer of commodity sales service or of firm distribution service who uses such service or services primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
(f) "Customer service" means a function related to serving a retail customer including without limitation billing, meter reading, turnon service, and turn-off service. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, any person may perform one or more customer services without first becoming certificated in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 46-4-153; provided however, that such service may only be performed in compliance with all state and federal laws pertaining to the safety of natural gas pipelines and distribution systems and any other applicable safety standards.
(g) "Distribution service" means the delivery of natural gas by and through the intrastate instrumentalities and facilities of a gas company or of a marketer certificated pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 46-4-153, regardless of the party having title to the natural gas.
(h) "Electing Distribution Company" or "EDC" means a gas company that elects to become subject to the provisions of the Act and satisfies the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 46-4-154.
(i) "Gas" means natural gas.
(j) "Gas company" means any person to whom a certificate of public convenience and necessity has been issued by the Commission to own, operate, acquire, or construct any intrastate pipeline or distribution system, or any extension thereof, for the sale of natural gas.
(k) "Interruptible" means a type of distribution service that is subject to interruption or curtailment.
(l) "Marketer" means any person certificated by the Commission to provide commodity sales service or distribution service pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 46-4-153 or ancillary services incident thereto.
(m) "Regulated provider of natural gas" means the entity selected by the Commission to provide to consumers natural gas commodity service and ancillary services incident thereto in accordance with Code Section 46-4-166.
(n) "Retail customer" or "retail purchaser" means a person who purchases commodity sales service or distribution service and such purchase is not for the purpose of resale.

Rule 515-7-8-.03 Service Quality Standards: Customer Service, Billing, and Meter Reading

Every Marketer shall be required to meet service quality standards to ensure that quality service is afforded to all natural gas customers in Georgia. Specifically, all Marketers shall meet Commission established benchmarks in the following areas:

a. Call Center Service Level;
b. Requests for information from the EDC as authorized by the Tariff or Commission Order and certain requests as determined necessary by the Commission;
c. Billing Accuracy and Timeliness;
d. Responsiveness to Consumer Inquiries and Complaints;
e. Meter Reading Accuracy, if the marketer either directly or through a third party is performing the meter reading function;
f. Meter Reading Timeliness, if the marketer either directly or through a third party is performing the meter reading function;
g. Transmittal of Meter Reading Data to the EDC, including Timeliness and Accuracy of data, if the marketer either directly or through a third party is performing the meter reading function; and
h. Transmittal of accurate and timely electronic transactions of consumer data to the EDC.

Rule 515-7-8-.04 Service Quality Standards: Responsiveness to the Public Service Commission

Every Marketer shall be required to meet service quality standards to ensure compliance with Commission Orders.

Rule 515-7-8-.05 Additional Service Quality Standards

In addition to the service quality standards set forth in this Rule, the Commission may establish such further service quality standards as the Commission may from time to time deem necessary.

Rule 515-7-8-.06 Methodology for Establishment and Review of Benchmarks and Penalties

a. The Commission shall determine the appropriate benchmarks necessary to measure whether a Marketer or regulated provider has complied with the service quality standards established by the Commission pursuant to this Rule, as well as the appropriate penalties that may be assessed against a Marketer or regulated provider that fails to comply with such service quality standards;
b. The Commission shall conduct a hearing for the purpose of establishing the appropriate benchmarks to be utilized in determining whether a Marketer or regulated provider has complied with the service quality standards established herein, as well as the appropriate penalties to be assessed against a Marketer or regulated provider that fails to comply with such service quality standards. Prior to such hearing, the Marketers, the Commission Staff and any other interested party shall file any proposed benchmarks and penalties for consideration by the Commission. Following such hearing, the Commission shall issue an Order approving and adopting appropriate benchmarks and associated penalties; and
c. Following the establishment of initial benchmarks and penalties, the Commission may conduct hearings annually for the purpose of reviewing the service quality standards adopted by the Commission, as well as the benchmarks and penalties established as described in Section (b) above. Prior to such annual hearings, the Marketers, the Commission Staff and any other interested party shall file proposed revisions to the service quality standards, benchmarks and penalties for consideration by the Commission.

Rule 515-7-8-.07 Reporting and Compliance

a. Each Marketer shall file reports with the Commission demonstrating its performance with regard to the service quality standards established by the Commission. Such reports shall be filed in a form approved by the Commission, and shall be filed at least on a quarterly basis, or on some other periodic basis if ordered by the Commission; and
b. In addition to the hearings described in Rule 515-7-8-.06, the Commission shall, at least annually, conduct a proceeding to review compliance by the Marketers with the service quality standards established by the Commission.

Rule 515-7-8-.08 Penalties

Failure to comply with any service quality standards adopted by the Commission shall subject a Marketer or regulated provider to civil penalties as determined by the Commission.

Rule 515-7-8-.09 Force Majeure

The Commission recognizes that a Marketer's or Regulated Provider's performance data may be influenced by factors beyond its control. Accordingly, in the event of a force majeure, as defined by Rule 12 of AGLC's Commission-approved Tariff, a marketer or regulated provider may file a petition for an exception with the Commission seeking to have the scheduled service quality standards and/or benchmark results modified. The marketer or regulated provider will also be allowed to file an expedited petition seeking immediate relief from a payment of penalties as set forth in these Rules in the event of a force majeure. In any such petition, the marketer or regulated provider shall have the burden of demonstrating that the benchmark was not met due to causes beyond the marketer's or regulated provider's control and which could not have been avoided by exercise of due care. The filing of any such petition shall not stay any payments under these Rules unless otherwise ordered by the Commission.