HB1308: Investor-owned public utility; SCC to suspend enforcement of all proposed rates, toll, charges, etc.


HOUSE BILL NO. 1308
AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE
(Proposed by the House Committee on Commerce and Labor)
?(Patrons Prior to Substitute--Delegates Carrico, Armstrong [HB 653], Griffith [HB 1190] and Merricks [HB  606])
House Amendments in [ ] ? February 9, 2010
A BILL to amend and reenact ? 56-238 of the Code of Virginia, relating to the regulation of investor-owned electric utilities.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That ? 56-238 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

? 56-238. Suspension of proposed rates, etc.; investigation; effectiveness of rates pending investigation and subject to bond; fixing reasonable rates, etc.

The Commission, either upon complaint or on its own motion, may suspend the enforcement of any or all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations, of any public utility except an investor-owned electric public utility for a period not exceeding 150 days from the date of filing, and the Commission shall suspend the enforcement of all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations of an investor-owned electric public utility until the Commission's final order in the proceeding, during which time it times the Commission shall investigate the reasonableness or justice of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations and thereupon fix and order substituted therefor such rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations as shall be just and reasonable. The Commission's final order in such a proceeding involving an investor-owned electric public utility that is filed after January 1, 2010, shall be entered not more than nine months after the date of filing, at which time the suspension period shall expire, and any revisions in rates or credits so ordered shall take effect not more than 60 days after the date of the order. Notice of the suspension of any proposed rate, toll, charge, rule or regulation shall be given by the Commission to the public utility, prior to the expiration of the thirty 30 days' notice to the Commission and the public heretofore provided for. If the proceeding has not been concluded and an order made at the expiration of the suspension period, after notice to the Commission by the public utility making the filing, the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations shall go into effect. Where increased rates, tolls or charges are thus made effective, the Commission shall, by order, require the public utility to furnish a bond, to be approved by the Commission, to refund any amounts ordered by the Commission, to keep accurate accounts in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, and upon completion of the hearing and decision, to order such public utility to refund, with interest at a rate set by the Commission, the portion of such increased rates, tolls or charges by its decision found not justified. The Commission shall prescribe all necessary rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this section on or before September 1, 1980. This section shall not apply to proceedings conducted pursuant to ? 56-245 or 56-249.6.

2. That an incumbent electric utility that was, as of July 1, 1999, not bound by a rate case settlement adopted by the State Corporation Commission that extended in its application beyond January 1, 2002, [ may shall ] suspend the collection of interim rates during the pendency of the Commission's consideration of the utility's application brought pursuant to subsection A of ? 56-585.1 of the Code of Virginia and filed on July 15, 2009. To determine if a refund is required for the period when interim rates were in effect before such suspension, the Commission shall offset any required refund, which is the amount of revenue collected while the interim rates were in effect that exceeds the amount approved by the Commission in its final order on the utility's application, by the amount of revenue that the utility would have collected had the rates ultimately approved by the Commission in its final order on the utility's application been in effect during the period between the date such suspension commenced and the effective date of the rates approved by the Commission in its final order. The Commission shall issue its final order on the utility's application not later than July 15, 2010, for rates to become effective for bills rendered on and after August 1, 2010, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of ? 56-235.4 of the Code of Virginia.

3. That an emergency exists and this act is in force from its passage.


HOUSE BILL NO. 1308
AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE
(Proposed by the House Committee on Commerce and Labor
on February 4, 2010)
(Patrons Prior to Substitute--Delegates Carrico, Armstrong [HB 653], Griffith [HB 1190] and Merricks [HB606])
A BILL to amend and reenact ? 56-238 of the Code of Virginia, relating to the regulation of investor-owned electric utilities.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That ? 56-238 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

? 56-238. Suspension of proposed rates, etc.; investigation; effectiveness of rates pending investigation and subject to bond; fixing reasonable rates, etc.

The Commission, either upon complaint or on its own motion, may suspend the enforcement of any or all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations, of any public utility except an investor-owned electric public utility for a period not exceeding 150 days from the date of filing, and the Commission shall suspend the enforcement of all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations of an investor-owned electric public utility until the Commission's final order in the proceeding, during which time it times the Commission shall investigate the reasonableness or justice of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations and thereupon fix and order substituted therefor such rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations as shall be just and reasonable. The Commission's final order in such a proceeding involving an investor-owned electric public utility that is filed after January 1, 2010, shall be entered not more than nine months after the date of filing, at which time the suspension period shall expire, and any revisions in rates or credits so ordered shall take effect not more than 60 days after the date of the order. Notice of the suspension of any proposed rate, toll, charge, rule or regulation shall be given by the Commission to the public utility, prior to the expiration of the thirty 30 days' notice to the Commission and the public heretofore provided for. If the proceeding has not been concluded and an order made at the expiration of the suspension period, after notice to the Commission by the public utility making the filing, the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations shall go into effect. Where increased rates, tolls or charges are thus made effective, the Commission shall, by order, require the public utility to furnish a bond, to be approved by the Commission, to refund any amounts ordered by the Commission, to keep accurate accounts in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, and upon completion of the hearing and decision, to order such public utility to refund, with interest at a rate set by the Commission, the portion of such increased rates, tolls or charges by its decision found not justified. The Commission shall prescribe all necessary rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this section on or before September 1, 1980. This section shall not apply to proceedings conducted pursuant to ? 56-245 or 56-249.6.

2. That an incumbent electric utility that was, as of July 1, 1999, not bound by a rate case settlement adopted by the State Corporation Commission that extended in its application beyond January 1, 2002, may suspend the collection of interim rates during the pendency of the Commission's consideration of the utility's application brought pursuant to subsection A of ? 56-585.1 of the Code of Virginia and filed on July 15, 2009. To determine if a refund is required for the period when interim rates were in effect before such suspension, the Commission shall offset any required refund, which is the amount of revenue collected while the interim rates were in effect that exceeds the amount approved by the Commission in its final order on the utility's application, by the amount of revenue that the utility would have collected had the rates ultimately approved by the Commission in its final order on the utility's application been in effect during the period between the date such suspension commenced and the effective date of the rates approved by the Commission in its final order. The Commission shall issue its final order on the utility's application not later than July 15, 2010, for rates to become effective for bills rendered on and after August 1, 2010, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of ? 56-235.4 of the Code of Virginia.

3. That an emergency exists and this act is in force from its passage.

HOUSE BILL NO. 1308
Offered January 22, 2010
A BILL to amend and reenact ?? 56-237, 56-238, and  56-240 of the Code of Virginia, relating to interim or temporary electric utility rate increases.
Patron-- Carrico

Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That ?? 56-237, 56-238, and 56-240 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

? 56-237. How changes in rates effected; notice required; changes to be indicated on schedules.

No change shall be made in any schedule filed pursuant to the preceding section (? 56-236)? 56-236, including schedules of joint rates, except after thirty 30 days' notice to the Commission, in such manner as the Commission may require, and to the public, in such manner as prescribed in ? 56-237.1, and all such changed rates, tolls, charges, rules, and regulations shall be plainly indicated upon existing schedules or by filing new schedules in lieu thereof not less than thirty 30 days prior to the time the same are to take effect; provided that, (i)the Commission may, in particular cases, authorize or prescribe a less time in which changes may be made; and provided further that, (ii) in the case of water companies, the notice to the public shall set forth the proposed rates and charges; and (iii) in the case of electric public utilities, no change shall be made in any schedule filed pursuant to ? 56-236 unless and until approved by the Commission, provided that this limitation shall not apply to any change made in accordance with ?? 56-245 and 56-249.6.

? 56-238. Suspension of proposed rates, etc.; investigation; effectiveness of rates pending investigation and subject to bond; fixing reasonable rates, etc.

The Commission, either upon complaint or on its own motion, may suspend the enforcement of any or all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations, for a period not exceeding 150 days from the date of filing, during which time it shall investigate the reasonableness or justice of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations and thereupon fix and order substituted therefor such rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations as shall be just and reasonable. Notice of the suspension of any proposed rate, toll, charge, rule or regulation shall be given by the Commission to the public utility, prior to the expiration of the thirty 30 days' notice to the Commission and the public heretofore provided for. If the proceeding has not been concluded and an order made at the expiration of the suspension period, after notice to the Commission by the public utility making the filing, the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations shall go into effect. Where increased rates, tolls or charges are thus made effective, the Commission shall, by order, require the public utility to furnish a bond, to be approved by the Commission, to refund any amounts ordered by the Commission, to keep accurate accounts in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, and upon completion of the hearing and decision, to order such public utility to refund, with interest at a rate set by the Commission, the portion of such increased rates, tolls or charges by its decision found not justified. The Commission shall prescribe all necessary rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this section on or before September 1, 1980. This section does not apply to electric public utilities, which are not authorized to make a change in any schedule filed pursuant to ? 56-236 unless and until a proposed change is approved by the Commission.

? 56-240. Proposed rates, etc., or changes thereof, not suspended effective subject to later change by Commission; refund or credit; appeal; investor-owned public utilities required to show increase complies with ? 56-235.2.

Unless the Commission so suspends such schedule of rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations, or changes thereof, the same shall go into effect as originally filed by any public utility as defined in ? 56-232other than an electric public utility, upon the date specified in the schedule subject, however, to the power of the Commission, upon investigation thereafter, to fix and order substituted therefor such rate or rates, tolls, charges, rules, or regulations, as shall be just and reasonable, as provided in ?? 56-235 and 56-247. The Commission may thereupon, in its discretion, order such public utility to refund or give credit promptly to the parties entitled thereto any portion or all of the charges originally filed by the public utility which may have been collected or received in excess of those charges finally fixed and ordered substituted therefor by the Commission. Rates of any utility found to be operating in violation of ? 56-265.3 may be deemed subject to refund by the Commission, on its own motion, as of the date of the Commission's order finding that the utility was operating in violation of ? 56-265.3. Such rates shall then be interim in nature and subject to refund until such time as the Commission has determined the appropriateness of the rates. Any amount of the rates found excessive by the Commission shall be subject to refund with interest, as may be ordered by the Commission.

From any action of the Commission in prescribing rates, refunds, credits, tolls, charges, rules and regulations or changes thereof, an appeal may be taken by the corporation whose rates, refunds, credits, tolls, charges, rules and regulations or changes thereof are affected, or by the Commonwealth, or by any person deeming himself aggrieved by such action.

No rate increase shall go into effect under the provisions of this section for an investor-owned gas, or telephone or electric public utility unless such public utility has filed with its schedule information and data designed to show that any increase complies with the just and reasonable requirements of ? 56-235.2, and unless based thereon the Commission finds a reasonable probability that the increase will be justified upon full investigation and hearing. No electric public utility shall make a change in any schedule filed pursuant to ? 56-236 (i) unless and until a proposed change is approved by the Commission or (ii) unless such change is made in accordance with ?? 56-245 and 56-249.6.  The Commission, shall issue its final order not more than 9 months after the end of the test year, and any revisions in rates or credits so ordered must take effect not later than 60 days after the date of the order and is authorized to promulgate any rules necessary to implement this provision.