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SB19-236

Sunset Public Utilities Commission

Concerning the continuation of the public utilities commission, and, in connection therewith, implementing the recommendations contained in the 2018 sunset report by the department of regulatory agencies and making an appropriation.
Session:
2019 Regular Session
Subject:
Energy
Bill Summary

Sunset Process - Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. The bill implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies' sunset review and report on the public utilities commission (commission) by:

  • Authorizing the commission to promulgate rules to delegate routine, administrative transportation matters to staff and clarifying that the commission provides initial review of each case submitted for adjudication and determines whether it wishes to retain the case or to assign it to an administrative law judge or to an individual commissioner ( section 10 of the bill);
  • Providing for alternate forms of communication that a public utility may utilize to notify its customers of rate changes, including text message and e-mail, and requiring the public utility to post notice of the rate change on its public website, including a reference to the docket numbers of relevant rules or adjudicatory matters. ( section 6 );
  • Transferring the administration of the legal services offset fund from the department of law to the department of regulatory agencies ( section 11 );
  • Making technical changes regarding criminal history record checks and telecommunications ( sections 13 and 15 through 18 );
  • Repealing a requirement that an electric utility, as part of the electric utility's plan for acquisition of renewable resources, purchase a certain amount of energy from community solar gardens in the years 2011 through 2013, but delaying the repeal until 2043 to keep the legislation in place until contracts entered into pursuant to the requirement have likely all expired ( section 4 );
  • Repealing the requirement that the commission, in considering electric utilities' proposals for generation acquisition, give consideration to proposals to propose, fund, and construct integrated gasification combined cycle generation facilities ( section 3 ); and
  • Clarifying that the commission may impose a civil penalty for a violation of railroad crossing safety regulations ( section 9 ).

The bill also:

  • Directs the commission to promulgate rules to require an investor-owned utility to file with the commission, for the commission's approval, a distribution system plan regarding the utility's anticipated distribution system investments ( section 5 );
  • Requires an investor-owned utility, when submitting a filing to the commission that includes a proposed retirement of an electric generating facility, to include in the filing a workforce transition plan that provides estimates of workforce transitions that will occur as a result of retiring the electric generating facility ( section 5 );
  • Directs the commission to conduct an investigation of financial performance-based incentives and performance-based metric tracking to identify mechanisms for aligning utility operations and investments with various public benefit goals, including safety, cost efficiency, and emissions reduction. The commission must report the findings of its investigation to the general assembly 18 months after the bill's passage ( section 7 );
  • Requires the commission to open a nonadjudicatory proceeding to conduct a survey of public utility retail rates and to consider recommendations for providing rate relief in geographic areas with retail rates that are materially greater than the state average ( section 7 );
  • Directs the commission to evaluate the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in certain proceedings related to a public utility subject to the commission's jurisdiction and to promulgate rules to require those public utilities, when submitting filings to include the cost of carbon dioxide emissions related to the evaluation of electric generation and heating resources. Starting in 2020, the commission is required to establish a base cost of carbon dioxide emissions in an amount not less than $46 and shall modify the cost thereafter based on escalation rates established by a federal interagency working group; ( section 8 ); and
  • Authorizes the commission to regulate vehicle booting companies, which are private entities in the business of immobilizing motor vehicles through use of a boot, through issuance of permits and enforcement mechanisms including inspections, imposition of a civil penalty, and revocation of a permit ( sections 12 and 14 ).

The bill continues the functions of the commission for 7 years, until 2026 ( sections 1 and 2 ). The bill appropriates $467,034 for state fiscal year 2019-20 to the department of regulatory agencies for use by the public utilities commission for personal services, operating expenses, and the purchase of legal services ( section 21 ).
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)

Status

Introduced
Passed
Became Law

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