(a) Before customer choice begins on January 1, 2002, the commission shall ensure that retail customer protections are established that entitle a customer:
(1) to safe, reliable, and reasonably priced electricity, including protection against service disconnections in an extreme weather emergency as provided by Subsection (h) or in cases of medical emergency or nonpayment for unrelated services;
(2) to privacy of customer consumption and credit information;
(3) to bills presented in a clear format and in language readily understandable by customers;
(4) to the option to have all electric services on a single bill, except in those instances where multiple bills are allowed under Chapters 40 and 41;
(5) to protection from discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, or marital status;
(6) to accuracy of metering and billing;
(7) to information in English and Spanish and any other language as necessary concerning rates, key terms and conditions, in a standard format that will permit comparisons between price and service offerings, and the environmental impact of certain production facilities;
(8) to information in English and Spanish and any other language as necessary concerning low-income assistance programs and deferred payment plans; and
(9) to other information or protections necessary to ensure high-quality service to customers.
(b) A customer is entitled:
(1) to be informed about rights and opportunities in the transition to a competitive electric industry;
(2) to choose the customer's retail electric provider consistent with this chapter, to have that choice honored, and to assume that the customer's chosen provider will not be changed without the customer's informed consent;
(3) to have access to providers of energy efficiency services, to on-site distributed generation, and to providers of energy generated by renewable energy resources;
(4) to be served by a provider of last resort that offers a commission-approved standard service package;
(5) to receive sufficient information to make an informed choice of service provider;
(6) to be protected from unfair, misleading, or deceptive practices, including protection from being billed for services that were not authorized or provided; and
(7) to have an impartial and prompt resolution of disputes with its chosen retail electric provider and transmission and distribution utility.
(c) A retail electric provider, power generation company, aggregator, or other entity that provides retail electric service may not refuse to provide retail electric or electric generation service or otherwise discriminate in the provision of electric service to any customer because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, lawful source of income, disability, or familial status. A retail electric provider, power generation company, aggregator, or other entity that provides retail electric service may not refuse to provide retail electric or electric generation service to a customer because the customer is located in an economically distressed geographic area or qualifies for low-income affordability or energy efficiency services. The commission shall require a provider to comply with this subsection as a condition of certification or registration.
(d) A retail electric provider, power generation company, aggregator, or other entity that provides retail electric service shall submit reports to the commission and the office annually and on request relating to the person's compliance with this section. The commission by rule shall specify the form in which a report must be submitted. A report must include:
(1) information regarding the extent of the person's coverage;
(2) information regarding the service provided, compiled by zip code and census tract; and
(3) any other information the commission or the office considers relevant to determine compliance.
(e) The commission has the authority to adopt and enforce such rules as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out Subsections (a)-(d), including rules for minimum service standards for a retail electric provider relating to customer deposits and the extension of credit, switching fees, levelized billing programs, interconnection and use of on-site generation, termination of service, and quality of service. The commission has jurisdiction over all providers of electric service in enforcing Subsections (a)-(d) and may assess civil and administrative penalties under Section 15.023 and seek civil penalties under Section 15.028 .
(f) On or before June 30, 2001, the commission shall modify its current rules regarding customer protections to ensure that at least the same level of customer protection against potential abuses and the same quality of service that exists on December 31, 1999, is maintained in a restructured electric industry.
(g) Compliance with Subsections (a)-(e) by a provider of electric service which is a municipally owned utility shall be administered solely by the governing body of the municipally owned utility, which shall adopt, implement, and enforce, as to the municipally owned utility, rules having the effect of accomplishing the objectives of Subsections (a)-(e). Reports containing the information required by Subsection (d) shall be filed by the municipally owned utility with the governing body.
(h) A retail electric provider, power generation company, aggregator, or other entity that provides retail electric service may not disconnect service to a residential customer during an extreme weather emergency or on a weekend day. The entity providing service shall defer collection of the full payment of bills that are due during an extreme weather emergency until after the emergency is over and shall work with customers to establish a pay schedule for deferred bills. For purposes of this subsection, “extreme weather emergency” means a period when:
(1) the previous day's highest temperature did not exceed 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature is predicted to remain at or below that level for the next 24 hours according to the nearest National Weather Service reports; or
(2) the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory for any county in the relevant service territory, or when such an advisory has been issued on any one of the previous two calendar days.
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