TITLE 39
Public Utilities and Carriers

CHAPTER 39-1
Public Utilities Commission

SECTION 39-1-2


§ 39-1-2 Definitions.

Terms used in this title shall be construed as follows, unless another meaning is expressed or is clearly apparent from the language or context:

(1) "Administrator" means the administrator of the division of public utilities and carriers;

(2) "Airport" and "landing field" mean and include all airports and landing fields other than those owned by the state;

(3) "Chairperson" means the chairperson of the public utilities commission;

(4) "Charter carrier" means and includes all carriers for hire or compensation within this state not included in the definition of common carrier;

(5) "Commission" means the public utilities commission;

(6) "Commissioner" means a member of the public utilities commission;

(7) "Common carrier", except when used in chapters 12, 13, and 14 of this title, means and includes all carriers for hire or compensation including railroads, street railways, express, freight and freight line companies, dining car companies, steam boat, motor boat, power boat, hydrofoil, and ferry companies and all other companies operating any agency or facility for public use in this conveyance over fixed routes, or between fixed termini within this state or persons or property by or by a combination of land, air, or water;

(8) "Company" means and includes a person, firm, partnership, corporation, quasi-municipal corporation, association, joint stock association or company, and his, her, its, or their lessees, trustees, or receivers appointed by any court;

(9) "Customer" means a company taking service from an electric distribution company at a single point of delivery or meter location;

(10) "Distribution facility" means plant or equipment used for the distribution of electricity and which is not a transmission facility;

(11) "Division" means the division of public utilities and carriers;

(12) "Electric distribution company" means a company engaging in the distribution of electricity or owning, operating, or controlling distribution facilities and shall be a public utility pursuant to § 39-1-2(20);

(13) "Electric transmission company" means a company engaging in the transmission of electricity or owning, operating, or controlling transmission facilities. An electric transmission company shall not be subject to regulation as a public utility except as specifically provided in the general laws, but shall be regulated by the federal energy regulatory commission and shall provide transmission service to all nonregulated power producers and customers, whether affiliated or not, on comparable, nondiscriminatory prices and terms. Electric transmission companies shall have the power of eminent domain exercisable following a petition to the commission pursuant to § 39-1-31;

(14) "Liquefied natural gas" means a fluid in the liquid state composed predominantly of methane and which may contain minor quantities of ethane, propane, nitrogen, or other components normally found in natural gas;

(15) "Manufacturing customers" means all customers that have on file with an electric distribution company a valid certificate of exemption from the Rhode Island sales tax indicating the customer's status as a manufacturer pursuant to § 44-18-30;

(16) "Motor carriers" means any carrier regulated by the administrator pursuant to Chapters 3, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of this title;

(17) "Natural gas" means the combustible gaseous mixture of low-molecular-weight, paraffin hydrocarbons, generated below the surface of the earth containing mostly methane and ethane with small amounts of propane, butane, and hydrocarbons, and sometimes nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and helium;

(18) "Nonprofit housing development corporation" means a nonprofit corporation, which has been approved as a § 501(c)(3), 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3), corporation by the internal revenue service, and which is organized and operated primarily for the purpose of providing housing for low and moderate income persons;

(19) "Nonregulated power producer" means a company engaging in the business of producing, manufacturing, generating, buying, aggregating, marketing or brokering electricity for sale at wholesale or for retail sale to the public; provided however, that companies which negotiate the purchase of electric generation services on behalf of customers and do not engage in the purchase and resale of electric generation services shall be excluded from this definition. A nonregulated power producer shall not be subject to regulation as a public utility except as specifically provided in the general laws;

(20) "Public utility" means and includes every company that is an electric distribution company and every company operating or doing business in intrastate commerce and in this state as a railroad, street railway, common carrier, gas, liquefied natural gas, water, telephone, telegraph, and pipeline company, and every company owning, leasing, maintaining, managing, or controlling any plant or equipment or any part of any plant or equipment within this state for manufacturing, producing, transmitting, distributing, delivering, or furnishing natural or manufactured gas, directly or indirectly to or for the public, or any cars or equipment employed on or in connection with any railroad or street railway for public or general use within this state, or any pipes, mains, poles, wires, conduits, fixtures, through, over, across, under, or along any public highways, parkways or streets, public lands, waters, or parks for the transmission, transportation, or distribution of gas for sale to the public for light, heat, cooling, or power for providing audio or visual telephonic or telegraphic communication service within this state or any pond, lake, reservoir, stream, well, or distributing plant or system employed for the distribution of water to the consuming public within this state including the water supply board of the city of Providence; provided, that, except as provided in § 39-16-9 and in chapter 2072 of the public laws, 1933, as amended, this definition shall not be construed to apply to any public waterworks or water service owned and furnished by any city, town, water district, fire district, or any other municipal or quasi-municipal corporation, excepting the water supply board of the city of Providence, unless any city, town, water district, fire district, municipal, or quasi-municipal corporation obtains water from a source owned or leased by the water resources board, either directly or indirectly, or obtains a loan from the board pursuant to the provisions of chapter 15 of title 46, or sells water, on a wholesale or retail basis, inside and outside the territorial limits of the city or town, water district, fire district, municipal or quasi-municipal corporation, except, however, that a public waterworks or water service owned and furnished by any city, town, water district, fire district, or any other municipal or quasi-municipal corporation which sells water, on a wholesale or retail basis, inside and outside its territorial limits shall not be construed as a public utility if it has fewer than one-thousand five hundred (1,500) total customer service connections and provided outside sales do not exceed ten percent (10%) of the total water service connections or volumetric sales and provided the price charged to outside customers, per unit of water, is not greater than the price charged to inside customers for the same unit of water, nor to the Rhode Island public transit authority, or to the production and/or distribution of steam, heat, or water by Rhode Island port authority and economic development corporation in the town of North Kingstown; and the term "public utility" shall also mean and include the Narragansett Bay water quality management district commission; and provided that the ownership or operation of a facility by a company which dispenses alternative fuel or energy sources at retail for use as a motor vehicle fuel or energy source, and the dispensing of alternative fuel or energy sources at retail from such a facility, does not make the company a public utility within the meaning of this title solely because of that ownership, operation, or sale; and provided further that this exemption shall not apply to presently regulated public utilities which sell natural gas or are dispensers of other energy sources; and provided further, that the term "public utility" shall not include any company;

(i) Producing or distributing steam or heat from a fossil fuel fired cogeneration plant located at the university of Rhode Island South Kingstown, Rhode Island;

(ii) Producing and/or distributing thermal energy and/or electricity to a state owned facility from a plant located on an adjacent site regardless of whether steam lines cross a public highway; and

(iii) Providing wireless service.

(21) "Purchasing cooperatives" shall mean any association of electricity consumers which join for the purpose of negotiating the purchase of power from a nonregulated power producer, provided however, that purchasing cooperatives shall not be required to be legal entities and are prohibited from being engaged in the re-sale of electric power;

(22) "Railroad" means and includes every railroad other than a street railway, by whatsoever power operated for public use in the conveyance in this state of persons or property for compensation, with all bridges, ferries, tunnels, switches, spurs, tracks, stations, wharves, and terminal facilities of every kind, used, operated, controlled, leased, or owned by or in connection with any railroad;

(23) "Retail access" means the use of transmission and distribution facilities owned by an electric transmission company or an electric distribution company to transport electricity sold by a nonregulated power producer to retail customers pursuant to § 39-1-27.3;

(24) "Street railway" means and includes every railway by whatsoever power operated or any extension or extensions, branch, or branches thereof, for public use in the conveyance in this state of persons or property for compensation, being mainly upon, along, above, or below any street, avenue, road, highway, bridge, or public place in any city or town, and including all switches, spurs, tracks, rights of trackage, subways, tunnels, stations, terminals and terminal facilities of every kind, used, operated, controlled, or owned by or in connection with any street railway;

(25) "Transmission facility" means plant or equipment used for the transmission of electricity as determined by the federal energy regulatory commission pursuant to federal law as of the date of the property transfers pursuant to § 39-1-27(c);

(26) Notwithstanding any provision of this section or any provision of the act entitled, "An Act Relating to the Utility Restructuring Act of 1996" (hereinafter "Utility Restructuring Act"), upon request by the affected electric utility, the commission may exempt from the Utility Restructuring Act or any provision(s) thereof, an electric utility which meets the following requirements: (i) the utility is not selling or distributing electricity outside of the service territory in effect for that utility on the date of passage of the Utility Restructuring Act; and (ii) the number of kilowatt hours sold or distributed annually by the utility to the public is less than five percent (5%) of the total kilowatt hours consumed annually by the state. Provided however that nothing contained in this section shall prevent the commission from allowing competition in the generation of electricity in service territories of utilities exempted in whole or in part from the Utility Restructuring Act pursuant to this section, as long as such allowance of competition is conditioned upon payment to the exempted electric utility of a nonbypassable transition charge calculated to recover the elements comparable in nature to the elements in § 39-1-27.4(b) and (c) taking into consideration any unique circumstances applicable to the exempted electric utility.

(27) "Wireless service" means communication services provided over spectrum licensed by or subject to the jurisdiction of the federal communications commission.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1912, ch. 795, § 2; G.L. 1923, ch. 253, § 2; P.L. 1936 (s. s.), ch. 2438, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 122, § 2; impl. am. P.L. 1939, ch. 660, §§ 120, 122; impl. am. P.L. 1952, ch. 2876, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 39-1-2; P.L. 1967, ch. 156, § 2; P.L. 1969, ch. 240, § 1; P.L. 1971, ch. 265, § 1; P.L. 1972, ch. 205, § 1; P.L. 1976, ch. 270, § 1; P.L. 1976, ch. 277, § 11; P.L. 1980, ch. 335, § 6; P.L. 1983, ch. 235, § 2; P.L. 1988, ch. 421, § 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 580, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 49, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 133, art. 34, § 2; P.L. 1993, ch. 103, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 227, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 316, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 357, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 331, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 121, § 2; P.L. 2013, ch. 135, § 2.)