§ 34–2202.05a. Consumer protection, consumer education, rules.
(a) The Office of People's Counsel ("OPC"), established by § 34-804, may:
(1) Represent District of Columbia ratepayers at administrative hearings when these hearings involve the interests of users of the products of or services furnished by the Authority;
(2) Represent the interests of and advocate for District of Columbia ratepayers at public hearings held by the Authority, pursuant to section 216(b), to establish and adjust water and sewer rates;
(3) Represent and advocate for District of Columbia ratepayers at proceedings before local and federal regulatory agencies and courts when those proceedings involve the interests of users of the products of or services furnished by the Authority;
(4) Investigate the services given by, and the rates charged by, the Authority, in response to complaints received by the OPC, including complaints regarding:
(A) Billing practices and payment plans;
(B) Service connection and disconnection;
(C) Customer service; and
(D) Notice of construction schedules; and
(5) Advise and educate Authority customers about their legal rights and responsibilities pursuant to the rules governing service by the Authority.
(b) Within one year after April 11, 2019, the OPC, or a contractor selected by the OPC, shall prepare and submit to the Mayor and Council a study of, and recommendations on how to improve, the Authority's billing activities, meter reading accuracy, and customer service operations.
(c)(1) The Authority shall provide the OPC, or, for the purposes of subsection (b) of this section, a contractor selected by the OPC, access to any accounts, books, papers, and documents considered necessary to carry out the functions described in subsections (a) and (b) of this section.
(2) Before requesting access to a customer account from the Authority, OPC shall obtain permission from the customer holding the account to request such access.
(d) The Authority shall, within 14 business days after receipt of an inquiry related to the functions described in subsection (a) or (b) of this section, from OPC or, for the purposes of subsection (b) of this section, a contractor selected by the OPC, respond on the merits to the inquiry; provided, that if the inquiry is made in the course of a formal proceeding before a court or agency, this subsection shall not apply and the Authority shall respond within the period of time required by the rules governing the proceeding.
(e) Within 3 months after October 1, 2019, a working group comprised of representatives from the Authority, the OPC, and the Department of Energy and Environment shall develop a Consumer Bill of Rights that delineates the rights and responsibilities of the Authority and its customers for consideration and enactment by the Authority.
(f)(1) Within 5 days after an emergency event, the Authority shall provide the following information to OPC and the Chairpersons of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions ("ANC") and Ward Councilmembers representing areas that include affected properties:
(A) A description of the emergency event, including, where available, the cause of the emergency event;
(B) A list of ANCs with affected properties;
(C) An estimate of the total number of affected properties;
(D) A list of actions taken by the Authority in response to the emergency event;
(E) A list of actions the Authority plans to take in response to the emergency event; and
(F) Information, including a best point of contact, for owners of affected properties to report damage to or seek relief from the Authority.
(2) Within 30 days after the end of an emergency event, the Authority shall provide a report to OPC and the Chairpersons of the ANCs and Ward Councilmembers representing areas that include affected properties that includes the following:
(A) Information on affected properties, including:
(i) The number of affected properties;
(ii) A list of ANCs with affected properties;
(B) Information on the emergency event, including:
(i) For emergency events stemming from an extreme weather event:
(I) The duration and amount of rainfall; and
(II) An approximate number of affected properties experiencing any sewer system back-ups.
(ii) For emergency events resulting in a major service interruption, the average amount of time affected properties were without service; and
(iii) For emergency events resulting in the issuance of a Tier 1 public notice pursuant to the Environmental Public Agency ("EPA") Public Notification Rule, the length of time between the Authority becoming aware of the emergency event requiring a Tier 1 public notice and the Authority's issuance of the Tier 1 public notice to residents affected by the emergency event;
(C) A list of all actions taken by the Authority in response to the emergency event, including:
(i) Relief the Authority has offered to owners of affected properties; and
(ii) Outreach by the Authority to owners of affected properties and, for events resulting in the issuance of a Tier 1 public notice pursuant to the EPA Public Notification Rule, potentially affected properties; and
(D) A list of planned actions to address the cause of the emergency event, if any.
(3) For the purposes of this subsection, the term:
(A) "Affected property" means a property where the owner or tenant has reported to the Authority, or the Authority has otherwise identified, that an emergency event affected the property.
(B) "Emergency event" means an event resulting in a major service interruption, the issuance of a Tier 1 public notice pursuant to the EPA Public Notification Rule, or an extreme weather event.
(C) "Extreme weather event" means an event in which the duration and intensity of rainfall causes an exceedance of the District's sewer system.
(D) "Major service interruption" means an unplanned interruption in water and sewer service lasting at least 24 hours and impacting at least 50 properties.
(E) "Outreach" includes emails, text messages, and phone calls, social media posts, emergency alerts, media advisories and press releases, and other similar efforts to communicate with property owners.