The news rules, which correspond to provisions of Senate Bill 3 adopted in 2021 after Winter Storm Uri, include a classification system for fines that the commission can assess for improper disconnections.
The news rules, which correspond to provisions of Senate Bill 3 adopted in 2021 after Winter Storm Uri, include a classification system for fines that the commission can assess for improper disconnections, as well as new prohibitions against demanding full payment of utility bills during weather emergencies.
Each of the new rules modify 16 Texas Administrative Code §7.460. Among the highlights:
- The new rules contemplate four categories of disconnection violations — Class A, Class B, Class C and Class D — with fines ranging from $3,000 to more than $5,000 per violation.
- Under the new classification matrix for fines, a utility that improperly disconnects a customer for 24 hours or more during a weather emergency and with temperatures less than 10 degrees would be subject to a Class B violation fine of $5,000. If the same company had a history of repeated violations, then it would become a Class A violation of more than $5,000.
- Under the new rules, any demand of full payment of utility bills during a weather emergency could increase the severity of fines. Any good faith effort to remedy a violation could decrease the severity of fines.
The new rules can be found online, here.