Public Utilities and Carriers

Public Utilities Commission

SECTION 39-1-1

§ 39-1-1. Declaration of policy – Purposes.

(a) The general assembly finds and therefore declares that:

(1) The businesses of distributing electrical energy, producing and transporting manufactured and natural gas, operating water works and furnishing supplies of water for domestic, industrial, and commercial use, offering to the public transportation of persons and property, furnishing and servicing telephonic and wireless audio and visual communication systems, and operation of community antenna television systems are affected with a public interest;

(2) Supervision and reasonable regulation by the state of the manner in which the businesses construct their systems and carry on their operations within the state are necessary to protect and promote the convenience, health, comfort, safety, accommodation, and welfare of the people, and are a proper exercise of the police power of the state; and

(3) Preservation of the state's resources, commerce, and industry requires the assurance of adequate public transportation and communication facilities, water supplies, and an abundance of energy, all supplied to the people with reliability, at economical cost, and with due regard for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, the conservation of natural resources, including scenic, historic, and recreational assets, and the strengthening of long-range, land-use planning.

(b) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide fair regulation of public utilities and carriers in the interest of the public, to promote availability of adequate, efficient, and economical energy, communication, and transportation services and water supplies to the inhabitants of the state, to provide just and reasonable rates and charges for such services and supplies, without unjust discrimination, undue preferences or advantages, or unfair or destructive competitive practices, and to cooperate with other states and agencies of the federal government in promoting and coordinating efforts to achieve realization of this policy.

(c) To this end, there is hereby vested in the public utilities commission and the division of public utilities and carriers the exclusive power and authority to supervise, regulate, and make orders governing the conduct of companies offering to the public in intrastate commerce energy, communication, and transportation services and water supplies for the purpose of increasing and maintaining the efficiency of the companies, according desirable safeguards and convenience to their employees and to the public, and protecting them and the public against improper and unreasonable rates, tolls, and charges by providing full, fair, and adequate administrative procedures and remedies, and by securing a judicial review to any party aggrieved by such an administrative proceeding or ruling.

(d) The legislature also finds and declares, as of 1996, the following:

(1) That lower retail electricity rates would promote the state's economy and the health and general welfare of the citizens of Rhode Island;

(2) That current research and experience indicates that greater competition in the electricity industry would result in a decrease in electricity rates over time;

(3) That greater competition in the electricity industry would stimulate economic growth;

(4) That it is in the public interest to promote competition in the electricity industry and to establish performance-based ratemaking for regulated utilities;

(5) That in connection with the transition to a more competitive electric utility industry, public utilities should have a reasonable opportunity to recover transitional costs associated with commitments prudently incurred in the past pursuant to their legal obligations to provide reliable electric service at reasonable costs;

(6) That it shall be the policy of the state to encourage, through all feasible means and measures, states where fossil-fueled, electric- generating units producing air emissions affecting Rhode Island air quality are located to reduce such emissions over time to levels that enable cost-effective attainment of environmental standards within Rhode Island; and

(7) That in a restructured electrical industry the same protections currently afforded to low-income customers shall continue.

(e) The legislature further finds and declares as of 2006:

(1) That prices of energy, including especially fossil-fuels and electricity, are rising faster than the cost of living and are subject to sharp fluctuations, which conditions create hardships for many households, institutions, organizations, and businesses in the state;

(2) That while utility restructuring has brought some benefits, notably in transmission and distribution costs and more efficient use of generating capacities, it has not resulted in competitive markets for residential and small commercial-industrial customers, lower overall prices, or greater diversification of energy resources used for electrical generation;

(3) That the state's economy and the health and general welfare of the people of Rhode Island benefit when energy supplies are reliable and least-cost; and

(4) That it is a necessary move beyond basic utility restructuring in order to secure for Rhode Island, to the maximum extent reasonably feasible, the benefits of reasonable and stable rates, least-cost procurement, and system reliability that includes energy resource diversification, distributed generation, and load management.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1969, ch. 240, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 316, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 236, § 5; P.L. 2006, ch. 237, § 5.)