New York Consolidated Laws, Public Service Law - PBS § 65. Safe and adequate service;  just and reasonable charges;  unjust discrimination;  unreasonable preference;  protection of privacy

1. Every gas corporation, every electric corporation and every municipality shall furnish and provide such service, instrumentalities and facilities as shall be safe and adequate and in all respects just and reasonable.  All charges made or demanded by any such gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality for gas, electricity or any service rendered or to be rendered, shall be just and reasonable and not more than allowed by law or by order of the commission.  Every unjust or unreasonable charge made or demanded for gas, electricity or any such service, or in connection therewith, or in excess of that allowed by law or by the order of the commission is prohibited.

2. No gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality shall directly or indirectly, by any special rate, rebate, drawback or other device or method, charge, demand, collect or receive from any person or corporation a greater or less compensation for gas or electricity or for any service rendered or to be rendered or in connection therewith, except as authorized in this chapter, than it charges, demands, collects or receives from any other person or corporation for doing a like and contemporaneous service with respect thereto under the same or substantially similar circumstances or conditions.

3. No gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality shall make or grant any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any person, corporation or locality, or to any particular description of service in any respect whatsoever, or subject any particular person, corporation or locality or any particular description of service to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect whatsoever.

4. Nothing in this chapter shall be taken to prohibit a gas corporation or electric corporation from establishing a sliding scale for a fixed period for the automatic adjustment or charges for gas, electricity or any service rendered or to be rendered and the dividends to be paid to stockholders of such gas corporation or electric corporation, provided that the sliding scale shall first have been filed with and approved by the commission;  but nothing in this subdivision shall operate to prevent the commission after the expiration of such fixed period from fixing proper, just and reasonable rates and charges to be made for service as authorized in this article.

5. Nothing in this chapter shall be taken to prohibit a gas corporation or electrical corporation from establishing classifications of service based upon the quantity used, the time when used, the purpose for which used, the duration of use or upon any other reasonable consideration, and providing schedules of just and reasonable graduated rates applicable thereto.  No such classification, schedule, rate or charge shall be lawful unless it shall be filed with and approved by the commission, and every such classification, rate or charge shall be subject to change, alteration and modification by the commission.

6. Service charges prohibited.  Every gas corporation shall charge for gas supplied a fair and reasonable price.  No such corporation shall make or impose an additional charge or fee for service or for the installation of apparatus or the use of apparatus installed, except that a charge may be made:

(a) where entry, inspection or examination as authorized by subdivision nine of this section is denied;

(b) for reconnecting the service to a person or corporation if the service to such person or corporation was disconnected, in accordance with applicable legal requirements, for non-payment of bills for service;  

(b-1) for expenses reasonably incurred as determined by the commission in cases of meter tampering and theft of service.  Such expenses shall include, but not be limited to, the cost of investigating, repairing and replacing meters and pipes, and the cost of moving a meter and installing it in a secure location;

(c) for a remote meter reading device upon the request and consent of the customer;  or

(d) for installation of capital improvements and fixtures to promote energy efficiency upon the request and consent of the customer, including but not limited to the performance of qualified energy efficiency services for customers participating in green jobs-green New York on-bill recovery pursuant to section sixty-six-m of this article.

7. No gas corporation or electric corporation shall sell or offer for sale any list of names of its customers.

8. Inspection of transmission pipelines conveying natural gas.  Every gas corporation transmitting natural gas under permits or franchises permitting the laying or maintaining of pipelines conveying natural gas shall conduct a leak detection inspection using leak detection equipment or employing a visual inspection of such transmission pipelines annually or more frequently when ordered by the commission.  A written report of every such inspection shall be made available to the commission.

9. Buildings may be entered for the examination of meters, pipes, fittings, wires and works.  (a) Any officer or agent of any gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality for that purpose duly appointed and authorized by the corporation, upon exhibiting a photo-identification badge and a written authority signed by the president or vice-president and secretary or assistant secretary of the corporation,  or by the mayor or clerk of a municipal corporation or by the chairman and secretary of a municipal board in control of a public utility, may enter, at all reasonable times, any store, building, room or place supplied with gas, electricity or water by such utility corporation or municipality for the purpose of inspecting and examining the meters, pipes, fittings, wires and works for supplying or regulating the supply of gas or electricity and of ascertaining the quantity of gas or electricity supplied.

(b) If any person, at any time, directly or indirectly, shall prevent or hinder any such officer or agent from so entering any such premises, or from making any such inspection or examination at any reasonable time, he or she shall forfeit to the corporation or municipality one hundred dollars for every such offense.

10. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any case where electric corporations are permitted incremental seasonal differentials in rates or charges, such differentials shall not be imposed in any month upon any residential customer for the first two hundred fifty kilowatt hours used by such customer in such month;  provided, however, that the commission may promulgate rules to permit the imposition of such seasonal differentials where a customer requests a special rate that may include a seasonal differential or where service is to be provided to a residential customer for a temporary period not to exceed six months.

(b) In any case where an electric corporation is permitted incremental seasonal differentials in rates or charges, such corporation shall, on or before such differential rates commence, inform any customer subject to such differential as to the commencement and termination dates of such differential rates and permit such customer to read his own meter on such dates and forward the readings thereon to the corporation.

11. Civil actions.  (a) Every gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality furnishing utility service may initiate a civil action to collect a civil penalty against a user of non-residential service in accordance with this subdivision.  Upon a showing in such action that a user of non-residential service has knowingly accepted or received the use and benefit of gas or electric service which has been prevented from being properly registered by a meter provided therefor, the utility may be granted a civil penalty, in addition to the value of the unpaid service, in an amount which the court in its discretion shall deem to be just and reasonable, which in no event shall be more than three times the retail value of the gas or electric service accepted or received.  In any action under this subdivision, proof that a meter has been intentionally prevented from properly registering gas or electric service shall be prima facie proof that the user of non-residential service who accepts or receives the use and benefit of such service has done so with knowledge of the condition so existing, if the gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality shall first present evidence that such person took possession of the benefitted premises and used the gas or electric service prior to the creation of the condition.

(b) For the purposes of this subdivision, a user of non-residential service shall be a person benefitting from such service who is in possession of the premises to which the service is delivered.

(c) Any civil penalty recovered pursuant to this section in excess of the actual damages sustained by the utility shall be taken into account by the public service commission in establishing future utility rates.

12. An electric corporation shall send annually to each residence it serves a form that may be used to notify the corporation that a person living in the residence uses a life support system.  For the purposes of this subdivision, life support systems shall include, but not be limited to, hemodialysis equipment, respirators and apnea monitors.  An electric corporation shall maintain a current list of customers who use such life support systems and include the list in such electric corporation's system emergency plans.

13. (a) Every gas corporation or electric corporation furnishing utility services shall provide the following call center customer assistance receiving inquiries on:  customer financial responsibility;  receiving requests to initiate or terminate service;  receiving requests for emergency services;  determining deposit required or billing rate;  receiving meter and service orders and access to meter requests;  explaining company rates, regulations, policies, procedures, and common practices;  initiating trouble order forms and high bill investigations;  handling payment and other credit arrangements such as obtaining deposits, financial statements and payment plans;  and referring customers to social service agencies and other assistance programs.

(b) No gas or electric corporation shall close a call center or other facility providing the customer assistance set forth in paragraph (a) of this subdivision or relocate such customer assistance to another area of New York state or outside of New York state without notice and hearing before the commission.  Upon receipt of the notice required pursuant to this paragraph, the commission shall provide notice of the proceeding to interested parties and the public;  and shall promptly fix a date for the commencement of a public hearing thereon not less than sixty days after such receipt.  The testimony presented at such hearing may be presented in writing or orally, provided that the commission may make rules designed to exclude repetitive, redundant or irrelevant testimony while giving all interested parties the opportunity to present their documentary and/or testimonial evidence.  The commission shall make a record of all testimony in all contested hearings.  For purposes of this section “public hearing” means a public forum at a physical location, attended by commission members or their designees, where oral testimony is accepted and written testimony may be submitted for inclusion in the record.  Such forum shall be open to parties to the proceeding and the general public for the presentation of comments that shall be limited to relevant facts directly related to the proceeding in question.  Such hearing shall be commenced upon proper notice to the parties to the proceeding and the public at least thirty days prior to the scheduled date.

(c) This subdivision shall not apply to the collection of debt where by utility company policy such debt is directed to a collection agency or similar service companies.

14. In conjunction with a management and operations audit undertaken pursuant to subdivision nineteen of section sixty-six of this article or upon its own motion, the commission shall review the capability, including but not limited to, the capability to implement emergency response plans and restoration, of each electric corporation to provide safe, adequate, and reliable service.  Upon good cause shown, and after a hearing in accordance with the commission's rules and regulations, the commission may direct such corporation to comply with additional and more stringent terms and conditions of service than existed prior to the commencement of the management and operations audit, and may, in addition, assess the continued operation of such corporation as the provider of electric service in its service territory and propose, and act upon, such measures as are necessary to ensure safe and adequate service;  provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision limits the commission's authority to undertake the actions set forth pursuant to section twenty-four , twenty-five or twenty-five-a of this chapter.

15. The chief executive officer of each combination gas and electric corporation shall certify to the commission on or before March fifteenth of each year that such corporation has internal controls, policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with the requirements of this chapter and any rules, regulations, orders and procedures adopted thereto, including the obligation that such corporation provide safe and adequate service.


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