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CPUC Adopts Citation Program to Enforce Compliance by Telecommunications Carriers

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By Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen

As part of the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) ongoing efforts to respond more quickly and efficiently to non-compliance in the industries we regulate, today we adopted a citation program that will allow CPUC staff to issue citations to telecommunications carriers for violations of rules and regulations. The program specifies a citation procedure to be followed by our staff, spells out a list of specific violations and corresponding penalties, and sets out an appeal process.

The existing process requires issuance of a CPUC Resolution, followed by a formal vote from the Commissioners to impose penalties for carrier non-compliance. The new citation program will allow CPUC staff to take immediate action to correct noncompliance.

Under the new rules, carriers will have the opportunity to correct or contest any staff findings of non-compliance, and advise staff of any errors in their findings. The citation program does not prevent the CPUC from taking other remedial measures, including but not limited to the revocation of a carrier's operating authority and/or registration license. Penalties imposed on carriers cannot be recovered from customers. The citation program covers violations such as failure to obtain authority to operate in California, to submit required filings to the CPUC, and to report and remit surcharge payments as directed by the CPUC. 

This new citation program for telecommunications carriers closely follows existing citation programs applicable to other industries regulated by the CPUC, including the gas and electric industries, household goods movers, charter party carriers, and passenger stage corporations. In 2011, the CPUC created a citation process authorizing staff to impose fines on natural gas companies when gas safety rules are violated. In 2014, an electric safety citation program was created, permitting CPUC staff to levy fines on electric corporations for violating state rules and regulations.

The resolution (T-17601) proposing the new citation program is at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M216/K331/216331869.PDF.

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