Chapter 051


Enacted 06/20/07





     Introduced By: Representatives Handy, Pacheco, Slater, Kilmartin, and Silva

     Date Introduced: March 01, 2007


It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Section 39-1-27.10 of the General Laws in Chapter 39-1 entitled "Public

Utilities Commission" is hereby amended to read as follows:


     39-1-27.10. Electric and gas distribution companies required to file affordable

energy plans. -- (a) On or before January 2, 2007, each gas and electric distribution company

shall submit to the commission a plan for affordable energy for low income households, including

very low income households as defined in section 42-141-3 42-141-2. The plan shall provide for

the implementation of the affordable energy fund and shall include provisions for discounted

distribution rates and customer charges, payments on arrearages and unpaid balances by low

income households, and energy efficiency and weatherization, to the extent that funding is

allocated by the commissioner pursuant to subsection 42-141-5(d). Any amendments or revisions

to said plan after December 1, 2007, shall provide for referral of eligible households, as

appropriate, to community action agencies or other entities designated by the office of energy

resources for weatherization assistance.

      (b) On or before April 30, 2007, the commission shall review the plan and issue an order

with regard to the plan not later than May 31, 2007. The order shall be effective not later than

November 1, 2007. The commission shall cause a review, and as appropriate an amendment, of

the plan at least every three (3) years between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2016.

      (c) On or before November 1, 2007, each gas and electric distribution company shall

implement an affordable energy plan in accordance with the order of the commission.


     SECTION 2. Section 39-2-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 39-2 entitled "Duties of

Utilities and Carriers" is hereby amended to read as follows:


     39-2-1. Reasonable and adequate services -- Reasonable and just charges. -- (a)

Every public utility is required to furnish safe, reasonable, and adequate services and facilities.

The rate, toll, or charge, or any joint rate made, exacted, demanded, or collected by any public

utility for the conveyance or transportation of any persons or property, including sewage, between

points within the state, or for any heat, light, water, or power produced, transmitted, distributed,

delivered, or furnished, or for any telephone or telegraph message conveyed or for any service

rendered or to be rendered in connection therewith, shall be reasonable and just, and every unjust

or unreasonable charge for the service is prohibited and declared unlawful, and no public utility

providing heat, light, water, or power produced, transmitted, distributed, delivered, or furnished

shall terminate the service or deprive any home or building, or whatsoever, of service if the

reason therefor is nonpayment of the service without first notifying the user of the service, or the

owner or owners of the building as recorded with the utility of the impending service termination

by written notice at least ten (10) days prior to the effective date of the proposed termination of


      (b) Any existing rules and regulations dealing with the termination of utility service and

establishing reasonable methods of debt collection promulgated by the commission pursuant to

this chapter and the provisions of section 39-1.1-3, including but not limited to, any rules and

regulations dealing with deposit and deferred payment arrangements, winter moratorium and

medical emergency protections, and customer dispute resolution procedures, shall be applicable

to any public utility which distributes electricity.

      (c) The commission shall promulgate such further rules and regulations as are necessary

to protect consumers following the introduction of competition in the electric industry and which

are consistent with this chapter and the provisions of section 39-1.1-3. In promulgating such rules

and regulations, the commission shall confer with the Retail Electric Licensing Commission and

shall give reasonable consideration to any and all recommendations of the Retail Electric

Licensing Commission.

      (d) On or before May 1, 2007, the commission shall administer such rules and

regulations as may be necessary to implement the purpose of this section and to provide for

restoration of electric and/or gas service to very low income households as defined by section 42-


      (1) Effective July 1, 2007, notwithstanding the provisions of part V sections 4(E)(1)(B)

and (C) of the public utilities commission rules and regulations governing the termination of

residential electric, gas, and water utility service, a very low income customer who is terminated

from gas and/or electric service or is recognized pursuant to a rule or decision by the division as

being scheduled for actual shut-off of service on a date specified, shall be eligible one time to

have electric and/or gas utility service restored providing the following conditions are met:

      (i) the customer pays twenty-five percent (25%) of the customer's unpaid balance;

      (ii) the customer agrees to pay one thirty-sixth (1/36) of one half (1/2) of the customer's

remaining balance per month for thirty-six (36) months;

      (iii) the customer agrees to remain current with payments for current usage; .For

purposes of this subsection remaining current with payments shall mean that the customer: (a)

misses no more than a total of three (3) payments in the thirty-six (36) month period covered by

the agreement; (b) misses more than two (2) payments in any one calendar year, provided that

such missed payments in a calendar year are not consecutive and that payments for the year are

up-to-date by October 31st; and (c) that the amount due under that agreement is paid in full by the

conclusion of the period of the agreement; and

      (iv) the customer has shown, to the satisfaction of the division, that the customer is

reasonably capable of meeting the payment schedule provided for by the provisions of

subdivision 39-2-1(d)(1)(i) and (ii) in this section. The restoration of service provided for by this

subsection shall be a one-time right; failure to comply with the payment provisions set forth in

this subsection shall be grounds for the customer to be dropped from the repayment program

established by this subsection, and the balance due on the unpaid balance shall be due in full and

shall be payable in accordance with the rules of the commission governing the termination of

residential electric, gas, and water utility service. A customer who completes the schedule of

payments pursuant to this subsection, shall have the balance of any arrearage forgiven, and the

customer's obligation to the gas and/or electric company for such balance shall be deemed to be

fully satisfied. The amount of the arrearage so forgiven shall be treated as bad debt for purposes

of cost recovery by the gas or the electric company.

      (2) A customer terminated from service under the provisions of subdivision 39-2-1(d)(1)

shall be eligible for restoration of service in accordance with the applicable provisions of part V

section 4(E)(1)(C), or its successor provision, of the public utilities commission rules and

regulations governing the termination of residential electric, gas, and water service.


     SECTION 3. Section 42-141-5 of the General Laws in Chapter 42-141 entitled

"Affordable Energy" is hereby amended to read as follows:


     42-141-5. Affordable energy fund. -- (a) Fund established.

      (1) A special account is hereby established in the state treasury to be called the

"affordable energy fund."

      (2) Money remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall remain available for

expenditure in successive fiscal years.

      (3) The fund shall be used for only those purposes enumerated in subsection (d).

      (b) Financing of the fund. - The fund shall consist of the following sources:

      (1) Sums the legislature may appropriate;

      (2) Moneys received from federal, state, private donor or other sources for the purpose of

energy affordability by low income households;

      (3) Fees required pursuant to subsection (c); and

      (4) Any interest earned on the moneys in the fund.

      (c) Affordable energy fees.

      (1) An affordable energy fee in an amount set forth in this subsection shall be imposed

on gross receipts of electricity and gas companies and gross receipts on the sale of heating fuels

not used for residential heating. The fee shall be remitted to the division of taxation according to

the applicable schedule for the remission of the gross receipts tax as provided for in chapter 44-13

or the sales and use as provided for in chapter 44-18. The fees shall be as follows:

      (i) Gas. - One percent (1%) of the gross receipts of gas companies subject to the

provisions of chapter 44-13, "Public Service Corporation Tax".

      (ii) Electricity. - One percent (1%) of the gross receipts of electric companies subject to

the provisions of chapter 44-13. "Public Service Corporation Tax".

      (iii) Heating fuel other than natural gas and electricity. - Two percent (2%) of gross

receipts from the sales and use of heating fuel subject to the provisions of chapter 44-18. "Sales

and Use Taxes -- Liability and Computation".

      (2) Every person from whom an affordable energy fee is due shall be liable for the fee

until it has been paid to the state.

      (d) Purposes of the fund.

      (1) The commissioner may use money from the fund to:

      (i) Support weatherization and energy conservation educational programs and

weatherization and energy conservation services for low-income and very low income


      (ii) Compensate electric and gas distribution companies for revenues lost due to the

reductions in distribution and customer charges, in accordance with a plan approved by the

commission, to very low income households, and if feasible to low income households, which

shall, as a first priority, be used to provide up to a fifty percent (50%) reduction in the distribution

and customer charges for a reasonable and prudent use by very low-income households of gas

and electricity that does not exceed average use for comparable dwelling units.

      (iii) Defray the cost of heating fuel delivered to very low income households by an

amount not to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the allowable cost of heating fuel and a total

usage by the household, supported assistance from all sources overseen by the commissioner, that

is reasonable and prudent and does not exceed average use for comparable dwelling units.

      (iv) It Provide supplemental funds as may be necessary to augment the LIHEAP program

in order to accomplish the purposes of this chapter; it is not the purpose of the fund to reduce the

amount of assistance a household would otherwise receive from LIHEAP and other sources in the

absence of the fund or to subsidize utility rates in effect as of July 1, 2006, and provided for by


      (2) If the commissioner determines it is in the public interest to allocate funds for the

purposes set forth in subparagraph (1)(ii) above, the commissioner shall notify the commission of

the amount of funds to be allocated for a specified period. The commission shall then direct the

electric and/or gas distribution companies to file amendments to the appropriate tariffs to

implement rate reductions designed to provide the rate reduction consistent with the amount

allocated for the period designated, which amendments are subject to the review and approval of

the commission. Once approval is given, the allocated funds shall be transferred to the gas and/or

electric distribution company. Any funds held after transfer shall accumulate interest at the

customer deposit rate ("interest"). If, at the end of the rate reduction period, there are any unused

dollars from the fund, such dollars shall be returned to the affordable energy fund with interest.

Likewise, if at the end of the rate reduction period, there were not enough funds allocated to

cover the rate reduction as designed, the shortfall will be reimbursed from the affordable energy

fund with interest; provided, however, if there are no additional funds available from the fund,

such shortfall or uncovered balance of such shortfall will be recovered with interest from all

customers in a manner and over the period approved by the commission.

      (e) Administration and records of the fund.

      (1) The commissioner shall administer the fund in accordance with this chapter.

      (2) The commissioner in consultation with the department shall adopt procedures

governing the expenditure of, and accounting for, money expended from the fund.

      (3) The commissioner is responsible for insuring that there are adequate moneys

available in the fund to carry out the purposes of this section.

      (4) The commissioner shall maintain accounting records showing the income and

expenses of the fund.

      (f) Expenditure of fund money. - Disbursements may be made from the fund for the

following purposes:

      (1) Necessary administrative expenses, personnel expenses and equipment costs of the

office related to this section which shall not exceed ten percent (10%) of the revenue of the fund;

      (2) All costs to effectuate the purposes of the fund as set forth in subsection (d).

      (g) Report to the legislature. - The commissioner shall submit a report to the legislature

not later than the tenth (10th) day following the convening of each regular session of the

legislature. The report may include information considered significant by the commissioner but

must include:

      (1) The amount of money expended under section 42-141-5 during the preceding fiscal


      (2) The amount and source of money received during the preceding fiscal year;

      (3) A detailed summary of activities funded by the fund during the preceding fiscal year;

      (4) The projected cost to the fund for affordable energy programs in the next fiscal year.


     SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon passage.



LC01544/SUB A