Code of the District of Columbia

§ 34–1671.11. Investigations of violations; penalties for violation.

(a) For a violation of any provision of this chapter or a violation of any regulation or order issued under this chapter, after notice and a hearing, the Commission may:

(1) Suspend, revoke, or conditionally rescind the license of a natural gas supplier if the Commission determines, after reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing, that the natural gas supplier:

(A) Has obtained or attempted to obtain a license through fraud, deception, or misrepresentation;

(B) Has provided false or misleading information to the Commission, knowingly or with reckless disregard;

(C) Has committed fraud or engaged in market advertising or trade practices that are unfair, false, misleading, or deceptive;

(D) Has disclosed information about a customer or used information about a customer for any purpose other than the purpose for which the information was originally acquired, without the customer’s written consent, unless the disclosure is for bill collection or credit rating reporting purposes or a lawful disclosure about the energy consumption of a non-residential tenant to the tenant’s building owner; provided, that disclosure of aggregated consumption data to the owner of the building for which the data is requested shall be permissible if at least 5 customer accounts are aggregated and no single customer account represents more than 80% of the total aggregated energy consumption;

(E) Has been convicted of any fraud-related crimes;

(F) Has not fulfilled the licensing requirements under this chapter or is not authorized to transact business in the District of Columbia;

(G)(i) Has violated any consumer protection law or regulation of the United States, District of Columbia, or of any state; or

(ii) Has had its authority to engage in the supply and sale of natural gas revoked or suspended by any other state, agency, or authority for reasons consistent with this section;

(H) Has violated or failed to comply with the provisions of any regulation or order adopted by the Commission; or

(I) Is incapable of discharging the functions of a natural gas supplier;

(2) Impose a civil penalty;

(3) Order a refund or credit to a customer;

(4) Cancel a contract or part of a contract between a customer and a natural gas supplier;

(5) Order that any person violating any provision of this chapter or any rule adopted pursuant to this chapter cease and desist from future violations thereof or take affirmative corrective action as may be necessary with regard to any act or practice found unlawful by the Commission;

(6) Issue a letter of warning, reprimand, or censure with regard to any act, conduct, or practice that in the judgment of the Commission, upon consideration of the relevant facts and circumstances, does not warrant the initiation of more severe action;

(7) Examine any record, book, document, account, electronic data, or paper maintained by or for any natural gas supplier in the provision of natural gas; or

(8)(A) For the purpose of preserving evidence of an unlawful act or practice, after notice and hearing, impound any record, book, document, account, paper, electronic data, goods, ware, item, or facility used or maintained by or for any natural gas supplier in the course of supplying natural gas;

(B) As may be necessary, the Commission shall issue an order protecting the confidentiality of items subject to this paragraph.

(b) The Commission, on its own initiative or upon proper motion of the People’s Counsel or any aggrieved party, may take any of the following actions:

(1) Require any person to file a statement or report in writing under oath as to the facts and circumstances concerning the rendition of any service or conduct of any sale incidental to the discharge of this chapter;

(2) Examine under oath any person in connection with any act or practice subject to the requirements of this chapter; or

(3) Examine or inspect any goods, ware, item, or facility used in the supply of natural gas.

(c) The Commission may enter a temporary order suspending or limiting any license issued by the Commission, pending a final determination after notice and hearing, if the Commission determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that customers or the reliability of natural gas supply in the District of Columbia will be harmed by the actions of a natural gas supplier or that there is imminent danger to the public health, safety, or welfare. In such instance, the Commission shall move expeditiously to reach a final determination.

(d)(1) A civil penalty imposed by the Commission under this section shall not exceed $10,000 per violation.

(2) The Commission shall determine the amount of the civil penalty after considering:

(A) Any history of prior violations;

(B) The gravity and duration of the current violation;

(C) The degree of the violator’s culpability;

(D) The prospective effect of the penalty on the ability of the violator to conduct business;

(E) Any good faith effort on the part of the violator in attempting to achieve compliance; and

(F) Other factors the Commission may consider appropriate.

(e) The Commission or the People’s Counsel, in addition to any other proceeding authorized by law, may seek and obtain in a summary proceeding in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia an injunction prohibiting the act or practice.