SB 423 - This act authorizes the Public Service Commission (PSC) to promulgate rules by January 1, 2008 that set minimum standards for: vegetation management in and adjacent to a electric utility's easement or right-of-way; inspection, maintenance, repair, and replacement of electric utility infrastructure; and electric service reliability. Electric utilities shall reimburse customers who suffer economic loss or damages valued over $200 that result from power outages, when the power outages are in violation of the reliability standards.
The PSC shall inspect and monitor electric utilities to ensure and enforce their compliance with the standards developed under this act.
The act directs the PSC not to accept an application by an electric utility for certain rate adjustments if the electric utility is in violation of any of the standards.
The PSC shall require electric utilities to report on their activities as related to the vegetation management, infrastructure, and reliability standards, and such reports shall be made available to the public.
The PSC shall develop a schedule of penalties to be assessed against any electric utility that violates any of the standards developed under this act. No penalty shall exceed $250,000 per day per instance of violation.
The act gives the PSC authority to assess the penalties as developed under this act for electric utilities who violate any of the vegetation management, infrastructure, or reliability standards. No such penalty shall be assessed until after the PSC tries to resolve the violation through conference, conciliation, and persuasion. If the violation is resolved in this manner, no penalty shall be assessed, unless the violation was knowingly committed. In determining the amount of penalty to assess, the PSC shall take all relevant circumstances into account, including harm caused by the violation, the utility's previous compliance record with the standards, the nature of the violation, and any corrective actions taken.
Electric utilities may appeal a penalty assessment according to procedures listed in the act. The act also lists certain notification requirements to be included in any penalty order issued by the PSC. The PSC must issue a penalty within two years of discovering the violation or of the date the PSC reasonably should have discovered the violation.
The act requires that the costs associated with an electric company’s payment of any penalties or with customer reimbursements for power outages shall not be passed on to the ratepaying customers.