Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
5/29/2024

Part II. Enforcement

20VAC5-309-20. Report of probable violations.

Any person, as defined in § 56-265.15 of the Code of Virginia, may report probable violations of Chapter 10.3 of Title 56 to the State Corporation Commission, Division of Utility and Railroad Safety (division). The reports of probable violations may be submitted to the division in writing, by phone or email, or in person. All written reports of probable violations shall include the information requested on SCC Form DPA-1, if available. All probable violations shall be reported to the division within 30 days of a person becoming aware of the circumstances constituting the probable violations.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 2, eff. December 30, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 9, eff. July 1, 2001, and Volume 17, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 20, Issue 15, eff. March 12, 2004; Volume 40, Issue 16, eff. April 1, 2024.

20VAC5-309-30. Commission staff investigation of probable violations.

Upon receipt of a report of a probable violation, the State Corporation Commission staff (staff) shall conduct an investigation to examine all the relevant facts regarding the reported probable violation. The investigation may include, among other things, records verification, informal meetings, teleconferences, and photo-documentation. Responses to reports of probable violations may be provided to the division in writing, by phone or email, or in person. Upon completion of the investigation, the staff shall review its findings and recommendations with the Advisory Committee established in accordance with § 56-265.31 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 3, eff. December 30, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 9, eff. July 1, 2001, and Volume 17, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 40, Issue 16, eff. April 1, 2024.

20VAC5-309-40. Advisory Committee review of probable violations.

A. The Advisory Committee (committee), established by the State Corporation Commission (commission), shall meet on a periodic basis to review probable violations of the Act, this chapter, and the commission staff's (staff) findings and recommendations relative to such violations. Upon determination of either the staff or the committee that a violation may have occurred, and that an enforcement action is required, the staff shall take one or more of the following actions:

1. Issue a warning letter to the person alleged to have committed the violation ( defendant);

2. Issue an information letter to a county, city, or town alleged to have committed the violation;

3. Enter settlement negotiations with the defendant. Upon reaching agreement on settlement terms, the division shall present the proposed settlement to the commission for final acceptance or rejection; or

4. Request the issuance of a "Rule to Show Cause" order pursuant to 5VAC5-20-90 of the commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

B. In the event that the staff but not the committee recommends enforcement action against a probable violator, notwithstanding subdivision A 3 of this section, the staff may not pursue a settlement with the probable violator absent the initiation of a rule to show cause. As part of its request for a rule to show cause, staff shall report to the commission the committee's recommendations and reason for the committee's recommendations.

C. As soon as practicable after its establishment, the committee shall develop and implement a set of bylaws. These bylaws shall delineate the committee's practice and procedures relative to performing the duties assigned by the commission, including the review of probable violations of the Act and this chapter.

D. If deemed necessary, the committee shall establish one or more subcommittees of experts in the operations covered by the Act. These subcommittees shall assist the committee in performing its assigned duties.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 4, eff. December 30, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 9, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 17, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 20, Issue 15, eff. March 12, 2004; Volume 40, Issue 16, eff. April 1, 2024.

20VAC5-309-50. Commission action.

A. The State Corporation Commission (commission) may accept or reject a proposed settlement to resolve probable violations of the Act and this chapter. If the commission rejects a proposed settlement, a public hearing will be scheduled to receive evidence and take appropriate enforcement action as provided by the commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (5VAC5-20).

B. If the commission finds, after a hearing, that a violation has occurred or is continuing, it may issue a remedial order. The remedial order may direct the party to take any action that is consistent with such party's obligations under the Act, including the payment of a civil penalty as provided by § 56-265.32 of the Code of Virginia. A remedial order issued by the commission under this section shall be effective upon issuance, in accordance with its terms, unless stayed, suspended, modified, or rescinded.

C. If the commission finds that a violation has occurred or is continuing and presents an immediate potential danger to life, health, property, or essential public service, the commission may issue a temporary injunction and schedule a hearing and require the respondent to show cause why it should not be enjoined on account of the alleged violation of the Act and this chapter.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 5, eff. December 30, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 9, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 17, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 40, Issue 16, eff. April 1, 2024.

20VAC5-309-60. Sanctions.

A. The State Corporation Commission (commission) may, by judgment entered after a hearing on notice duly served on any person not less than 30 days before the date of the hearing, enjoin or impose sanctions not inconsistent with Chapter 3 (§ 12.1-12 et seq.) of Title 12.1 and § 56-265.32 of the Code of Virginia if it is proved that the person violated any of the provisions of this chapter as a result of a failure to exercise reasonable care. Any proceeding or civil penalty undertaken pursuant to this section shall not prevent nor preempt the right of any party to obtain civil damages for personal injury or property damage in private causes of action. This subsection shall not authorize the commission to impose civil penalties on any county, city, town, or other political subdivision. However, the commission shall inform the counties, cities, towns, and other political subdivisions of reports of alleged violations involving the locality or political subdivision and, at the request of the locality or political subdivision, suggest corrective action.

B. In determining the amount of any civil penalty included in a settlement, the nature, circumstances, and gravity of the violation; the degree of the defendant's culpability; the defendant's history of prior offenses; and such other factors as may be appropriate shall be considered.

C. The defendant shall pay a civil penalty that has been assessed or compromised by submitting to the division a certified check made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia in the correct amount. All such penalties shall be deposited in the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Special Fund.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 6, eff. December 30, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 40, Issue 16, eff. April 1, 2024.

20VAC5-309-70. Petition for reconsideration.

Any person subject to an order from the Virginia State Corporation Commission may petition the commission for reconsideration of its order under 5VAC5-20-220 of the commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 7, eff. December 30, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 9, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 17, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 20, Issue 15, eff. March 12, 2004.

20VAC5-309-80. Appeals generally.

Any final finding, decision setting the substantive law, order or judgment of the commission may be appealed only to the Supreme Court of Virginia, subject to § 12.1-39 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, and to Rule 5:21 of that Court.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE940071 § 8, eff. December 30, 1994.

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