SB 869 Modifies provisions pertaining to the Public Service Commission, Office of Public Counsel, and nuclear plant development cost recovery
Sponsor: Kehoe Co-Sponsor(s)
LR Number: 5999S.01I Fiscal Note not available
Committee: Veterans' Affairs, Emerging Issues, Pensions and Urban Affairs
Last Action: 3/8/2012 - Second Read and Referred S Veterans' Affairs, Emerging Issues, Pensions and Urban Affairs Committee Journal Page: S433
Title: Calendar Position:
Effective Date: Emergency clause

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Current Bill Summary


SB 869 - This act modifies provisions pertaining to public utilities.

SECTION 386.370 - PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Under current law, the Public Service Commission (PSC) receives funding from a fee assessed to each regulated public utility based on the proportionate amount of time and expenses spent by the PSC on each utility. The act lowers the total amount that may be collected for the PSC from the fee, from its current maximum of .25% of the total gross intrastate operating revenue to .23% of total gross intrastate operating revenue.

SECTION 386.715 - OFFICE OF PUBLIC COUNSEL

The act requires the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) to, prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, inform the PSC of its estimated expenses for the upcoming fiscal year. The OPC must specify how much of its estimated expenses are directly attributable to its work with each type of PSC-regulated public utility (i.e., electric, gas, water, heating, telephone, and sewer) as well as the amount of expenses that are not directly attributable to one specific type of utility. Costs for telephone companies, water companies, and gas companies may not exceed 3%, 8%, and 15%, respectively, of the total directly attributable costs, with the remainder allocated to electric companies. Costs not directly attributable to one specific type of utility must be proportionately attributed to each utility type based on each utility type's percentage of total gross intrastate operating revenues across all utilities.

The PSC must levy an assessment to each regulated public utility to cover its share of the OPC's costs. The total amount levied to all utilities must not exceed 400ths of 1% of the total gross intrastate operating revenues of all regulated utilities. The PSC must issue a statement of the assessment amount to each utility by July 1st of each year, which the utility may pay in full by July 15th or in 4 equal quarterly installments.

The payments are to be deposited in the Public Counsel Fund, created in the act, and may only be used to pay the expenses of the OPC. Any balance remaining in the fund at the end of the fiscal year must be proportionately credited to the next year's assessments.

The act does not grant authority to the PSC to determine how the OPC estimates its expenses or how the OPC will spend the assessments collected from the utilities.

By March 31st of each year, each regulated utility must file a statement with the PSC of its gross intrastate operating revenues for the preceding calendar year.

SECTION 393.135 - EARLY SITE PERMIT COST RECOVERY

If an electric company obtains an Early Site Permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the PSC must allow the company to recover from its ratepayers up to $45 million of prudently-incurred expenditures spent by the company to obtain the permit. The company may recover such expenditures from its ratepayers through rates and charges over a period not to exceed 6 years. The company may begin the cost recovery on the effective date of tariffs approved by the PSC at the company's first general rate proceeding following the NRC's issuance of the permit. Cost recovery is limited to only costs that are prudently incurred; if a cost is challenged, the company has the burden of proof to show the cost was prudent. In any challenge to the prudency of the company's decision to obtain an Early Site Permit, the burden of proof is on the party raising the challenge.

If an electric company has recovered costs from its ratepayers for an Early Site Permit but the company's interest in the Early Site Permit is subsequently sold or transferred, the company must refund its ratepayers up to the amount that the company collected from the ratepayers for the permit, plus interest. The PSC may award up to 25% of any excess profits above the amount paid by ratepayers to the company.

The act creates the Governor's Task Force on Electrical Generation Options, which shall review energy generation options to include other options in addition to large baseload nuclear plants. The act specifies representation on the task force. The task force must issue its report by September 30, 2012.

SECTION 620.010 - OFFICE OF PUBLIC COUNSEL

The act removes the requirement that the Office of Public Counsel is funded by general revenue.

The act contains an emergency clause.

This act contains provisions similar to SS/SCS/HB 462 (2011), SB 321 (2011), and SB 406 (2011).

ERIKA JAQUES