§ 39-31-6. Utility filings with the public utilities commission.
(a) Pursuant to the procurement activities in § 39-31-5, the public utility company that provides electric distribution as defined in § 39-1-2(12), as well the public utilities that distribute natural gas as provided by § 39-1-2(20), are authorized to voluntarily file proposals with the public utilities commission for approval to implement these policies and achieve the purposes of this chapter. The company's proposals may include, but are not limited to the, following authorizations:
(1) Subject to review and approval of the commission, to enter into long-term contracts through appropriate competitive processes for large-or small-scale hydroelectric power and/or renewable energy resources that are eligible under the renewable energy standard established by chapter 26 of title 39; provided, however, that large-scale hydroelectric power shall not be eligible under the renewable energy standard established by chapter 26 of title 39, and provided that:
(i) The electric-distribution company may, subject to review and approval of the commission, select a reasonable, open, and competitive method of soliciting proposals from renewable energy developers, including domestic or international large-or small-scale hydroelectric power, that may include public solicitations and individual negotiations.
(ii) The solicitation process shall permit a reasonable amount of negotiating discretion for the parties to engage in arms-length negotiations over final contract terms.
(iii) Each long-term contract entered into pursuant to this section shall contain a condition that it shall not be effective without commission review and approval.
(iv) The electric distribution company shall file such contract(s), along with a justification for its decision, within a reasonable time after it has executed the contract following a solicitation or negotiation.
(v) Subject to review and approval of the public utilities commission, to enter into long-term contracts for natural-gas pipeline infrastructure and capacity that are commercially reasonable and advance the purposes of this chapter at levels beyond those commitments necessary to serve local gas-distribution customers, and may do so either directly, or in coordination with, other New England states and instrumentalities; utilities; generators; or other appropriate contracting parties.
(vi) The commission shall accept public comment on any contracts filed by the distribution utility, as authorized under this section, for a period no less than thirty (30) days.
(A) During this public comment period, the contracts shall be reviewed by the following state agencies, which shall provide advisory opinions to the public utilities commission on the topics specified, and the public utilities commission shall give due consideration to the advisory opinions filed:
(I) The department of environmental management (DEM) shall provide an advisory opinion on the expected greenhouse gas emissions and statewide environmental impacts resulting from the proposed contract(s).
(II) The commerce corporation shall provide an advisory opinion on the expected statewide economic impacts resulting from the proposed contract(s).
(III) The office of energy resources shall provide an advisory opinion on the expected energy security, reliability, environmental, and economic impacts resulting from the contract(s).
(B) The commission shall notify the aforementioned agencies upon the filing of any contract filed by the distribution utility pursuant to this chapter, and notify them of any related hearings and/or proceedings.
(C) Advisory opinions issued by agencies designated under (vi)(A) of this paragraph shall not be considered as final decisions of the agencies making the opinions, and shall not be subject to judicial review under § 42-35-15, or any other provision of the general laws.
(vii) The commission may approve the contract(s) if it determines that:
(A) The contract is commercially reasonable;
(B) The requirements for the solicitation have been met;
(C) The contract is consistent with the region's greenhouse gas reduction targets; and
(D) The contract is consistent with the purposes of this chapter.
(viii) Participate in a multi-state or regional sharing of costs through The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved tariffs for the costs of electric transmission and natural gas-pipeline infrastructure projects pursued under this chapter.
(b) The commission shall hold evidentiary hearings and public hearings to review any contract filing that may be made pursuant to this section and issue a written order approving or rejecting the contract within one hundred twenty (120) days of the filing; in rejecting a contract, the commission may advise the parties of the reason for the contract being rejected and provide an option for the parties to attempt to address the reasons for rejection in a revised contract within a specified period not to exceed ninety (90) days.
(P.L. 2014, ch. 424, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 477, § 1.)