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Connecticut Public Acts 1996

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Substitute Senate Bill No. 87

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-46

AN ACT CONCERNING EFFICIENCY IN DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITY CONTROL PROCEDURES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 16-32e of the general statutes, as amended by sections 12 and 21 of public act 95-257, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) As used in this section, "emergency" means any (1) hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought or fire explosion or (2) attack or series of attacks by an enemy of the United States causing, or which may cause, substantial damage or injury to civilian property or persons in the United States in any manner by sabotage or by the use of bombs, shellfire or atomic, radiological, chemical, bacteriological or biological means or other weapons or processes.

(b) Not later than June 1, [1990] 1996, and [biennially] EVERY FIVE YEARS thereafter, each public service company, as defined in section 16-1, AS AMENDED, EACH TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY, AS DEFINED IN SAID SECTION, THAT INSTALLS, MAINTAINS, OPERATES OR CONTROLS POLES, WIRES, CONDUITS OR OTHER FIXTURES UNDER OR OVER ANY PUBLIC HIGHWAY FOR THE PROVISION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 16-247c, and each municipal utility furnishing electric, gas or water service shall file with the Department of Public Utility Control, the Office of Emergency Management and each municipality located within the service area of the public service company TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY or municipal utility an updated plan for restoring service which is interrupted as a result of an emergency. Plans filed by public service companies and municipal utilities furnishing water shall be prepared in accordance with the memorandum of understanding entered into pursuant to section 4-67e, AS AMENDED. Not later than September 15, [1990] 1996, and [biennially] EVERY FIVE YEARS thereafter, the Department of Public Utility Control [shall] MAY conduct public hearings on such plans and, in consultation with the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Public Health and the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to public utilities, revise such plans to the extent necessary to provide properly for the public convenience, necessity and welfare. If the Department of Public Utility Control revises the emergency plan of a public service company TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY or municipal utility, [the] SUCH company or municipal utility shall file a copy of the revised plan with each municipality located within the service area of the company.

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 16-50r of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a)Every person engaged in generating electric power in the state, except a private power producer, as defined in section 16-243b, AS AMENDED shall, annually, on or before March first, [furnish] FILE a report [to] WHICH MAY CONSIST OF AN UPDATE OF THE PREVIOUS YEAR'S REPORT WITH the council for its review containing a twenty-year forecast of loads and resources. The report shall describe the facilities that, in the judgment of such utility, will be required to supply system demands during the forecast period. The report shall cover the twenty-year period beginning with the year of the report. [The] UPON REQUEST, THE report shall be made available to the public [and shall be furnished to the chief executive officer of each municipality in the service area of such utility, the regional planning agency which encompasses each such municipality, the Attorney General, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, each member of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to energy planning and activities, any other member of the General Assembly making a written request to the council for the report, each state department, agency and commission named in subsection (h) of section 16-50j and such other state and municipal bodies as the council may by regulation designate.] The report shall include: (1) A tabulation of estimated peak loads, resources and margins for each year; (2) data on energy use and peak loads for the five preceding calendar years; (3) a list of existing generating facilities in service; (4) a list of scheduled generating facilities for which property has been acquired, for which certificates have been issued and for which certificate applications have been filed; (5) a list of planned generating units at plant locations for which property has been acquired, or at plant locations not yet acquired, that will be needed to provide estimated additional electrical requirements, and the location of such facilities; (6) a list of planned transmission lines on which proposed route reviews are being undertaken or for which certificate applications have already been filed; (7) a description of the steps taken to upgrade existing facilities and to eliminate overhead transmission and distribution lines in accordance with the regulations and standards described in section 16-50t; and (8) for each private power producer having a facility generating more than one megawatt and from whom the person furnishing the report has purchased electricity during the preceding calendar year, a statement including the name, location, size and type of generating facility, the fuel consumed by the facility and the by-product of the consumption. [A full description of the methodology used to arrive at said load forecast shall also be filed with the council.] The council shall hold a public hearing on such FILED FORECAST reports annually. At least one session of such hearing shall be held after six-thirty p.m. UPON REVIEWING SUCH FORECAST REPORTS, THE COUNCIL MAY ISSUE ITS OWN REPORT ASSESSING THE OVERALL STATUS OF LOADS AND RESOURCES IN THE STATE. IF THE COUNCIL ISSUES SUCH A REPORT, IT SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC AND SHALL BE FURNISHED TO EACH MEMBER OF THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HAVING COGNIZANCE OF MATTERS RELATING TO ENERGY AND TECHNOLOGY, ANY OTHER MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAKING A WRITTEN REQUEST TO THE COUNCIL FOR THE REPORT AND SUCH OTHER STATE AND MUNICIPAL BODIES AS THE COUNCIL MAY DESIGNATE.

Sec. 3. Section 16-262c of the general statutes, as amended by section 1 of public act 95-39 and section 2 of public act 95-274, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes no electric, gas, telephone or water company and no municipal utility furnishing electric, gas, telephone or water service shall cause cessation of any such service by reason of delinquency in payment for such service (1) on any Friday, Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or day before any legal holiday, provided prior to July 1, 1997, such a company or municipal utility may cause cessation of such service to a nonresidential account on a Friday which is not a legal holiday or the day before a legal holiday when the business offices of the company or municipal utility are open to the public the succeeding Saturday, (2) at any time during which the business offices of said company or municipal utility are not open to the public, or (3) within one hour before the closing of the business offices of said company or municipal utility.

(b) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes, from November first to April fifteenth, inclusive, no electric or gas company and no municipal utility furnishing electricity or gas shall terminate or refuse to reinstate residential electric or gas service in hardship cases where the customer lacks the financial resources to pay his or her entire account. Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes to the contrary, no electric or gas company and no municipal utility furnishing electricity or gas shall terminate or refuse to reinstate residential electric or gas service where the customer lacks the financial resources to pay his or her entire account and for which customer or a member of the customer's household the termination or failure to reinstate such service would create a life-threatening situation. (2) After April fifteenth and before November first an electric or gas company or a municipal utility furnishing electricity or gas shall provide any residential customer whose account is delinquent an opportunity to enter into a reasonable amortization agreement with such company or utility to pay such delinquent account and to avoid termination of service. Such amortization agreement shall permit such customer adequate opportunity to apply for and receive the benefits of any available energy assistance program. Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit a company or a utility from providing a customer an opportunity to enter into a reasonable amortization agreement prior to April fifteenth. An amortization agreement shall be subject to amendment on customer request if there is a change in the customer's financial circumstances. (3) As used in this section, (A) "household income" means the combined income over a twelve-month period of the customer and all adults, except children of the customer, who are and have been members of the household for six months or more, and (B) "hardship case" includes, but is not limited to: (i) A customer receiving local, state or federal public assistance; (ii) a customer whose sole source of financial support is Social Security, Veterans' Administration or unemployment compensation benefits; (iii) a customer who is head of the household, is unemployed, and the household income is less than three hundred per cent of the poverty level determined by the federal government; (iv) a customer who is seriously ill or who has a household member who is seriously ill; (v) a customer whose income falls below one hundred twenty-five per cent of the poverty level determined by the federal government; and (vi) a customer whose circumstances threaten a deprivation of food and the necessities of life for himself or dependent children if payment of a delinquent bill is required. (4) In order for a residential customer of a gas public service company using gas for heat to be eligible to have any moneys due and owing deducted from the customer's delinquent account pursuant to this subdivision, the company furnishing gas shall require that the customer (A) apply and be eligible for benefits available under the Connecticut energy assistance program or state appropriated fuel assistance program; (B) authorize the company to send a copy of the customer's monthly bill directly to any energy assistance agency for payment; (C) enter into and comply with an amortization agreement, which agreement is consistent with decisions and policies of the Department of Public Utility Control. Such an amortization agreement shall reduce a customer's payment by the amount of the benefits reasonably anticipated from the Connecticut energy assistance program, state appropriated fuel assistance program, or other energy assistance sources. Unless the customer requests otherwise, the company shall budget a customer's payments over a twelve-month period with an affordable increment to be applied to any arrearage, provided such payment plan will not result in loss of any energy assistance benefits to the customer. If a customer authorizes the company to send a copy of his monthly bill directly to any energy assistance agency for payment, the energy assistance agency shall make payments directly to the company. If, on April thirtieth, a customer has been in compliance with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, during the period starting on the preceding November first, or from such time as the customer's account becomes delinquent, the company shall deduct from such customer's delinquent account an additional amount equal to the amount of money paid by the customer between the preceding November first and April thirtieth and paid on behalf of the customer through the Connecticut energy assistance program and state appropriated fuel assistance program. Any customer in compliance with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, on April thirtieth who continues to comply with an amortization agreement through the succeeding October thirty-first, shall also have an amount equal to the amount paid pursuant to such agreement and any amount paid on behalf of such customer between May first and the succeeding October thirty-first deducted from the customer's delinquent account. In no event shall the deduction of any amounts pursuant to this subdivision result in a credit balance to the customer's account. No customer shall be denied the benefits of this subdivision due to an error by the gas public service company. The Department of Public Utility Control shall allow the amounts deducted from the customer's account pursuant to the implementation plan, described in subdivision (5) of this subsection, to be recovered by the company in its rates as an operating expense, pursuant to said implementation plan. If the customer fails to comply with the terms of the amortization agreement or any decision of the department rendered in lieu of such agreement and the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, the company may terminate service to the customer, pursuant to all applicable regulations, provided such termination shall not occur between November first and April fifteenth. (5) Each gas public service company shall submit to the Department of Public Utility Control annually, on or before July first, an implementation plan which shall include information concerning amortization agreements, counseling, reinstatement of eligibility, rate impacts and any other information deemed relevant by the department. The Department of Public Utility Control [shall] MAY, in consultation with the Office of Policy and Management, [and after a hearing,] approve or modify such plan within ninety days of receipt of the plan. IF THE DEPARTMENT DOES NOT TAKE ANY ACTION ON SUCH PLAN WITHIN NINETY DAYS OF ITS RECEIPT, THE PLAN SHALL AUTOMATICALLY TAKE EFFECT AT THE END OF THE NINETY-DAY PERIOD, PROVIDED THE DEPARTMENT MAY EXTEND SUCH PERIOD FOR AN ADDITIONAL THIRTY DAYS, BY NOTIFYING THE GAS PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY BEFORE THE END OF THE NINETY-DAY PERIOD. Any amount recovered by a company in its rates pursuant to this subsection, shall not include any amount approved by the Department of Public Utility Control as an uncollectable expense. The department may deny all or part of the recovery required by this subsection if it determines that the company seeking recovery has been imprudent, inefficient or acting in violation of statutes or regulations regarding amortization agreements. (6) On or after January 1, 1993, the Department of Public Utility Control may require gas public service companies to expand the provisions of subdivisions (4) and (5) of this subsection to all hardship customers. Any such requirement shall not be effective until November 1, 1993. (7) (A) All electric and gas companies and municipal utilities furnishing electricity or gas shall collaborate in developing, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utility Control, standard provisions for the notice of delinquency and impending termination under subsection (a) of section 16-262d. Each such company and utility shall place on the front of such notice a provision that the company or utility may not effect termination of service to a residential dwelling for nonpayment of disputed bills during the pendency of any complaint. In addition, the notice shall state that the customer must pay current and undisputed bill amounts during the pendency of the complaint. (B) At the beginning of any discussion with a customer concerning a reasonable amortization agreement, any such company or utility shall inform the customer (i) of the availability of a process for resolving disputes over what constitutes a reasonable amortization agreement, (ii) that the company or utility will refer such a dispute to one of its review officers as the first step in attempting to resolve the dispute and (iii) that the company or utility may not effect termination of service to a residential dwelling for nonpayment of a delinquent account during the pendency of any complaint, investigation, hearing or appeal initiated by the customer, unless the customer fails to pay undisputed bills, or undisputed portions of bills, for service received during such period. (C) Each such company and utility shall inform and counsel all customers who are hardship cases as to the availability of all public and private energy conservation programs, including programs sponsored or subsidized by such companies and utilities, eligibility criteria, where to apply, and the circumstances under which such programs are available without cost. (8) The Department of Public Utility Control shall adopt regulations in accordance with chapter 54 to carry out the provisions of this subsection. Such regulations shall include, but not be limited to, criteria for determining hardship cases and for reasonable amortization agreements, including appeal of such agreements, for categories of customers. Such regulations may include the establishment of a reasonable rate of interest which a company may charge on the unpaid balance of a customer's delinquent bill.

(c) Each electric and gas public service company and municipal utility shall, not later than December first, annually, submit a report to the department and the General Assembly indicating (1) the number of customers in each of the following categories and the total delinquent balances for such customers as of the preceding April fifteenth: (A) Customers who are hardship cases and (i) who made arrangements for reasonable amortization agreements, (ii) who did not make such arrangements and (B) customers who are nonhardship cases and who made arrangements for reasonable amortization, (2) (A) the number of heating customers receiving energy assistance during the preceding heating season and the total amount of such assistance and (B) the total balance of the accounts of such customers after all energy assistance is applied to the accounts, (3) the number of hardship cases reinstated between November first of the preceding year and April fifteenth of the same year, the number of hardship cases terminated between April fifteenth of the same year and November first and the number of hardship cases reinstated during each month from April to November, inclusive, of the same year, (4) the number of reasonable amortization agreements executed and the number breached during the same year by (A) hardship cases and (B) nonhardship cases and (5) the number of accounts of (A) hardship cases and (B) nonhardship cases for which part or all of the outstanding balance is written off as uncollectable during the preceding year and the total amount of such uncollectables

(d) Nothing in this section shall (1) prohibit a public service company or municipal utility from terminating residential utility service upon request of a customer or in accordance with section 16-262d upon default by a customer on an amortization agreement or collecting delinquent accounts through legal processes, including the processes authorized by section 16-262f or (2) relieve such company or municipal utility of its responsibilities set forth in sections 16-262d and 16-262e to occupants of residential dwellings or, with respect to a public service company, the responsibilities set forth in section 19a-109.

(e) No provision of chapter 3 shall be construed to require or permit a municipal utility furnishing electric, gas or water service, a municipality furnishing water or sewer service, a district established by special act or pursuant to chapter 105 and furnishing water or sewer service or a regional authority established by special act to furnish water or sewer service to disclose under chapter 3 records which identify or could lead to identification of the utility usage or billing information of individual customers, to the extent such disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy.

Sec. 4. Section 16-358 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Every gas company, as defined in section 16-1, AS AMENDED owning or operating any underground facilities for furnishing gas shall, [annually,] EVERY TWO YEARS, BEGINNING on or before [March first] APRIL 1, 1997, furnish a report to the Department of Public Utility Control concerning the condition of such underground gas facilities FOR EACH OF THE PREVIOUS TWO CALENDAR YEARS. The report shall be made available to the public and shall be furnished to the chief executive officer of each municipality in which such underground gas facilities are located, the regional planning agency which encompasses each such municipality, the Attorney General, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to energy and public utilities, any other member of the General Assembly making a request to the department for the report and such other state and municipal bodies as the department may designate by regulation. The report shall include: (1) Information concerning the age and condition of such underground gas facilities; (2) data on all major repairs to such underground gas facilities undertaken during the reporting period; (3) plans for replacing aged, deteriorated and obsolete piping; (4) plans for the construction of new underground gas facilities; and (5) such other information as the department may require by regulation.

(b) The Department of Public Utility Control shall review and MAY conduct a public hearing on each report required by subsection (a) of this section. The department may require a gas company to submit additional information to explain or substantiate items contained in the report or to address specific matters not contained in the report and may issue such remedial orders as the department deems necessary to eliminate hazards to public safety and prevent interruptions in gas service to consumers.

Sec. 5. Section 16-359 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

[On or before January first, annually] EVERY TWO YEARS, BEGINNING OCTOBER 1, 1997, the Department of Public Utility Control [shall] MAY submit a report concerning compliance with and enforcement of the provisions contained in this chapter to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to energy and public utilities. Such reports shall be based upon data assembled for the most recent [twelve-month] TWENTY-FOUR-MONTH period and shall include, without limitation, the number of notifications made to the central clearinghouse, a detailed listing of accident, damage and injury reports and a detailed listing of enforcement actions brought and civil penalties imposed by the department. Such report shall also contain the findings and recommendations of the department with respect to the improvement of compliance with and enforcement of the provisions contained in this chapter and an evaluation of the overall condition of the state's underground gas facilities, including the potential for harm to the public and disruption of service resulting from aged, deteriorated and obsolete underground facilities. [The initial report submitted pursuant to this section shall include an evaluation of the feasibility of implementing requirements for mapping and inspecting underground utility facilities and an assessment of the need for legislative action to designate or create an authority having the power to stop an excavation in the event underground utility facilities are damaged or potentially damaged, in both emergency and non-emergency situations]

Approved May 2, 1996. Effective October 1, 1996.

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