(a) The commission shall accept, compile, and attempt to informally resolve consumer complaints regarding electric service providers. Where the commission reasonably suspects a pattern of customer abuses, the commission may, on its own motion, initiate investigations into the activities of electric service providers offering electrical service. Consumer complaints regarding service by a public agency offering electric service within the political boundary of the public agency or service territory of a local publicly owned electric utility shall continue to be resolved by the public agency. Within the service territory of a local publicly owned utility, consumer complaints arising from the violation of direct access rules adopted by the governing body of the local publicly owned utility shall be resolved through the local publicly owned utility's consumer complaint procedures.
(b) Notwithstanding other provisions, residential and small commercial customers shall have the option to proceed with a complaint against an electric service provider either through an action filed in the judicial court system or through a complaint filed with the commission. A customer who elects either the judicial or commission remedies may not raise the same claim in both forums. The commission shall have the authority to accept, compile, and resolve residential, and small commercial consumer complaints, including the authority to award reparations. The commission's authority in these complaint proceedings is limited to adjudication of complaints regarding residential and small commercial electric service provided by an electric service provider and shall not be expanded to include either an award of any other damages or regulation of the rates or charges of the electric service provider. However, a person or electric service provider that takes a conflict to the commission shall not be precluded from pursuing an appeal of the decision through the courts as provided for in law.
(c) In connection with customer complaints or commission investigations into customer abuses, electric service providers shall provide the commission access to their accounts, books, papers, and documents related to California transactions as described in Sections 313 and 314 , provided the information is relevant to the complaint or investigation.
(d) No electric service provider may discontinue service to a customer for a disputed amount if that customer has filed a complaint that is pending with the commission, and that customer has paid the disputed amount into an escrow account.
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