Code of the District of Columbia

§ 34–706. Failure to perform duty or obey Commission order; violation of pipeline safety regulation.

(a) If any public utility shall violate any provision of this subtitle, or shall do any act herein prohibited, or shall fail or refuse to perform any duty enjoined upon it for which a penalty has not been provided, or shall fail, neglect, or refuse to obey any lawful requirement or order made by the Commission, or any judgment or decree made by any court upon its application, for every such violation, failure, or refusal such public utility shall forfeit and pay to the District of Columbia the sum of $5,000 for each such offense. In construing and enforcing the provisions of this section, the act, omission, or failure of any officer, agent, or other person acting for or employed by any public utility acting within the scope of his employment and instructions shall in every case be deemed to be the act, omission, or failure of such public utility.

(b) Any person who violates any regulation issued by the Commission governing safety of pipeline facilities and the transportation of gas, shall be subject to a civil penalty as set forth in the Commission’s regulations, Title 15 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (15 DCMR), for each violation for each day that violation persists. Civil penalties established by the Commission shall not exceed maximum civil penalties established by federal laws and regulations governing the safety of pipeline facilities and the transportation of gas.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commission may adjudicate the occurrence of a violation under this section and impose sanctions in accordance with its regulations. Any such civil penalty may be compromised by the Commission. In determining the amount of such penalty, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, the appropriateness of such penalty to the size of the business of the person charged, the gravity of the violation, and the good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve compliance, after notification of a violation, shall be considered. The amount of such penalty when finally determined, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, may be deducted from any sums owing by the District of Columbia to the person charged or may be recovered in a civil action in the District of Columbia courts.

(d) In connection with a proceeding under this section, a public utility shall provide to the Commission access to any accounts, books, papers, and documents which the Commission considers necessary to resolve the matter.

(e)(1) Any public utility that fails to comply with regulations establishing reliability performance standards may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $100,000 for each violation.

(2) In determining the amount of a penalty, the Commission may consider the following:

(A) The public utility’s previous violations, including the following:

(i) The gravity of the violations;

(ii) The duration of the violations; and

(iii) The number of violations.

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

(C) The public utility’s good-faith attempt to achieve compliance with the regulations.

(3) A penalty imposed under this subsection shall not be passed on to ratepayers in rates or in any other manner by the public utility.

(4) The civil penalty set forth in this subsection shall apply only to regulations of the Public Service Commission designated as “reliability performance standards”. To qualify as a reliability performance standard, a regulation must include the phrase “reliability performance standard adopted by the Public Service Commission”.

(Mar. 4, 1913, 37 Stat. 992, ch. 150, § 8, par. 85; Aug. 11, 1971, 85 Stat. 319, Pub. L. 92-94, § 1(b); Mar. 14, 1985, D.C. Law 5-153, § 3(f), 31 DCR 6440; May 21, 1992, D.C. Law 9-109, § 2, 39 DCR 2158; Apr. 12, 2005, D.C. Law 15-342, § 303(b), 52 DCR 2346; Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2222(b), 57 DCR 6242; Sept. 14, 2011, D.C. Law 19-21, § 2082(a), 58 DCR 6226.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 43-306.

1973 Ed., § 43-906.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 34-731, § 34-732, and § 34-912.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-342 substituted “$5,000” for “$300”.

D.C. Law 18-223, in subsec. (c), added the first sentence; and added subsec. (d).

D.C. Law 19-21 added subsec. (e).

Cross References

Public service commission, powers and duties, see § 34-402.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 303(b) of Omnibus Utility Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-12, January 28, 2005, 52 DCR 2945).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2222(b) of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).

Short Title

Short title: Section 2081 of D.C. Law 19-21 provided that subtitle I of title II of the act may be cited as “Public Service Commission Amendment Act of 2011”.

References in Text

Regulations governing safety of pipeline facilities and transportation of gas are found at 15 DCMR 2398.