AN ACT TO PROVIDE RECOVERY OF CAPITAL RELATED COSTS INCURRED BY A NATURAL GAS UTILITY FOR CONSTRUCTING NATURAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE FOR A LARGE MANUFACTURING EMPLOYER, AND TO AMEND THE LAWS RELATED TO ENERGY POLICY.
Enacts new GS 62-133.13, "Cost recovery for natural gas economic development infrastructure," in Article 7 of GS Chapter 62 (Public Utilities). Provides that the purpose of this statute is to prescribe a procedure for a natural gas local distribution company to recover cost as a part of a project identified by the Department of Commerce (Department) as an eligible project under GS 143B-437.021 (enacted in this act). Directs the North Carolina Utilities Commission (Commission) to adopt rules to implement GS 62-133.13.
Limits eligibility for cost recovery under this section to natural gas economic development infrastructure determined by the Commission to satisfy all of the specified conditions which include specifications as to eligible locations, binding commitments such as a commercial contract, and determining if there are insufficient projected non-gas revenues from the eligible project to cover the cost associated with the project.
Also includes specifications regarding determining: (1) the economic feasibility ofthe construction of the infrastructure (2) the recoverable costs of an eligible project, and (3) the recovery of eligible economic development infrastructure costs in a rate adjustment surcharge mechanism. In addition, sets a limitation prohibiting a natural gas local distribution company from investing more than $25 million of eligible infrastructure development costs in any year and prohibits cumulative rate adjustments from exceeding 5% of the total annual service non-gas revenues approved by the Commission in the natural gas local distribution company's last general rate case.
Enacts new GS 143B-437.021, "Natural gas economic development infrastructure," in Article 10 of GS Chapter 143B (Executive Organization Act of 1973). States that the purpose of GS 143B-437.021 is to provide criteria for use by the Department of Commerce (Department) in determining the eligibility of an economic development project that requires natural gas service infrastructure.
Describes an eligible project as an economic development project that is determined by the Department to satisfy all of the following conditions: (1) provides opportunities for natural gas usage, jobs, and other economic development benefits in addition to those provided by the project; (2) has invested or intends to invest at least $200 million in private funds in improvements to real property and additions to tangible personal property in the project; and (3) the business employees at least 1,500 full-time employees or equivalent full-time employees at the project at the time the application is made, and the business agrees to maintain at minimum 1,500 full-time employees or equivalent full-time contract employees at the project.
Provides that a project may be considered as an eligible project under this section only if it is a project of a business that satisfies a wage standard, identified as an average weekly wage equal to at least 110% of the average wage for all insured private employers in the county. Provides additional criteria for the calculation of and annual publication and certification of the satisfaction of wage standard by the business.
Requires an eligible project to be one undertaken by a business that makes health insurance available to all full-time employees and equivalent full-time contract employees. Also provides that to be deemed an eligible project, the business undertaking the project must have no citations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act that have become a final order within the last three years for willful serious violations or for failing to abate "serious violations" (as defined in GS 95-127) with respect to the location for which the eligible project is located. Also requires that an eligible project be undertaken by a business that satisfies, at the time of the application, the environmental impact standard under GS 105-129.83.
Makes this act effective when it becomes law and provides that the act expires effective July 1, 2020; however, also provides that the expiration of the act does not affect the validity of any rate adjustment surcharge mechanism imposed or authorized under this act before the effective date of the expiration.