Bill Summary for H 217 (2021-2022)

Summary date: 

Mar 3 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 217 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 3, 2021
AN ACT TO MAKE TECHNICAL, CLARIFYING, CONFORMING, AND ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES TO THE LAWS RELATED TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND TO INCREASE THE NONUTILITY FILING FEE FOR A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY.
Intro. by Arp, B. Jones, Szoka, Winslow.

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Bill summary

Section 1

Amends GS 20-398 concerning the marking of vehicles transporting household goods to make the provisions applicable to attempts to operate. Adds that any law enforcement officer with territorial jurisdiction is authorized to enforce the statute.  

Section 2

Amends GS 62-3 by amending the definitions used in GS Chapter 62 (Public Utilities) as follows. Provides that a certificate of public convenience and necessity can be issued to a person. Provides that public utility does not include a municipality, county, or a city, town, or village, or a special district, public authority, or unit of local government subject to the budget and fiscal control provisions of Subchapter III, Article 3, GS Chapter 159, among other entities excluded by existing language (previously excluded municipalities and authorities organized under the NC Water and Sewer Authorities Act). Adds that public utility does not include any person or company whose sole operation consists of selling sewer service to less than 15 residential customers, with an exception for those constructing a sewer system in a subdivision of the specified size. Also excludes from public utility the State, Department of Information Technology, or the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina in the provision or sharing of broadband telecommunications services (was, switched broadband telecommunications services) with non-state entities or organizations of the kind set out in GS 143B-1371 (was, in GS 143B-426.39).

Section 3

Amends GS 62-15 to require that the Utilities Commission public staff be hired (was, appointed) by the executive director. Amends the duties of the public staff to: (1) include petitioning to initiate proceeds to review and take appropriate actions with respect to the operations and management of public utilities, (2) delete investigating and making recommendations with respect to application for certificates by radio common carriers, and (3) add appearing before courts and agencies in matters affecting public utility service when deemed necessary by the executive director.

Section 4

Amends GS 62-60 by providing that only upon request must the Utilities Commission (Commission) give the Attorney General copies of all applications, petitions, pleadings, orders, and decisions filed with or entered by the Commission. 

Section 5

Amends GS 62-34 by adding that the Public Staff has the right to examine confidential information in exercising any power or performing any duty authorized by GS Chapter 62. Prohibits the Public Staff from disclosing confidential information except as authorized by specified entities. Subjects any information not designated in writing as confidential to disclosure. 

Section 6

Amends GS 62-39 concerning crossings of telephone, telegraph, electric power lines, and pipelines and rights-of-way of railroads and other utilities by another utility by no longer specifying that the statute does not limit the right and duty conferred by law with respect to railroads crossing railroads.

Section 7

Amends GS 62-49 to no longer require the biennial supplements to the publication of utility laws. 

Section 8

Amends GS 62-74 to clarify that public utilities have the right to file a complaint against any other public utility or another person. 

Section 9

Amends GS 62-79 to require that copies of final orders or decisions be served in the manner prescribed by the Commission (was, by registered or certified mail).

Section 10

Amends GS 62-81 by requiring that all cases or proceedings that are general rate cases or which will substantially affect any utility's overall level of earnings or rate of return, be set for trial or hearing by the Commission commence within 180 days (was, six months) of the institution or filing thereof. Deletes the required timing of the issuance of a final order. Requires a public utility applying for an increase in rates for sewer service to notify customers within the specified timeline and through the listed procedure. Authorizes the Commission to refer a proceeding to a panel of three commissioners, a hearing commissioner, or a hearing examiner for hearing in cases or proceedings filed with and pending before the Commission where either the total annual revenue requested or the total annual revenue increase requested is less than $2 million (was $300,000), even though all or a substantial portion of the rate structure is being initially established or is under review. Updates statutory references. No longer sets out the requirements for determining applications for permission to adjust utility rates and charges based only on the cost of fuel used in the generation or production of electric power. Makes conforming changes.

Section 11

Amends GS 62-82, governing application for a certificate for construction of a facility for the generation of electricity. Requires the Commission to furnish a transcript of evidence and testimony submitted to the Commission at a hearing on an application following complaint by the end of the second business day after the taking of each day of testimony, only upon request of the applicant (currently, a general requirement that does not require request by the applicant). Eliminates the existing exemption of applicants for a certificate for solar photovoltaic facilities of 10 kilowatts or less from the requirement to publish notice in newspapers.

Section 12

Amends GS 62-110.1 to require that the Commission confer and consult with the specified entities when developing a long-range need for facility expansion analysis only as the Commission deems necessary. Adds the Public Staff and intervenors to those that may attend any formal conference on developing a plan for the future requirements of electricity in the state or region. Modifies the existing requirement for the Commission to conduct one or more public hearings in the course of making the analysis of and developing a long-range need for facility expansion, to now require the Commission to conduct a public hearing on the plan in the year a biennial integrated resource plan is filed, and permit the Commission to conduct a public hearing on the plan in a year that an annual update of an integrated resource plan is filed.

Section 13

Amends GS 62-111 by clarifying that a person may not obtain a franchise or certificate for the purpose of transferring the same to another and that an offer of such transfer within one year after the same was obtained, prima facie evidence that such franchise or certificate was obtained for the purpose of sale.

Section 14

Repeals GS 62-130(c), which allowed the Commission to make, require, or approve, after public hearing, for intrastate shipments what are known as milling-in-transit, processing-in-transit, or warehousing-in-transit rates on grain, lumber to be dressed, cotton, peanuts, tobacco, or such other commodities as the Commission may designate.

Section 15

Amends GS 62-133.4 regarding gas cost adjustment for natural gas local distribution companies to authorize the Commission to order a utility to make an appropriate adjustment or no adjustment to its rates, consistent with public interest, if the Commission finds an overrecovery or deficiency of its prudently incurred costs has been or is likely to be substantially reduced, negated, or reversed before or during a period in which it would be credited or recovered. 

Section 16

Repeals GS 62-133.8(j), which requires annual reporting by the Commission regarding Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) requirements.

Section 17

Repeals GS 62-133.10, which requires the Commission to permit an electric public utility that purchases or constructs a carbon offset facility to adjust its fuel and fuel-related costs to retain the North Carolina retail allocation of the system fuel and fuel-related cost savings resulting from the purchase or construction of the facility, not to exceed the annual revenue requirement associated with the allocated North Carolina retail portion of the facility.

Section 18

Amends GS 62-140 by deleting outdated language.

Section 19

Amends GS 62-280.1 to make it a Class 3 misdemeanor to knowingly aid and abet another person in taking the specified actions to falsely represent a household goods carrier certificate. Gives any law enforcement officer with territorial jurisdiction authority to enforce the statute. 

Section 20

Enacts GS 62-352 to require senior resident superior court judges to provide suitable facilities for Commission hearings, including security upon request. Provides for prompt reimbursement by the Commission.

Section 21

Amends GS 143-166.13 by no longer making Utilities Commission Transportation Inspectors and Special Investigators subject to the Criminal Justice Training and Standards.

Section 22

Amends GS 143B-963 to allow the Utilities Commission to provide the information obtained under subsection (a) of the statute (concerning the criminal history of any applicant for or current holder of a certificate to transport household goods) to the Public Staff for use in proceedings before the Commission and requires the Public Staff to keep that information confidential.

Section 23

Repeals GS 156-91(b), which addresses when the superintendent of construction and the railroad company are not able to agree as to the exact time at which such work can be done, leading to an investigation and determination by the Commission.

Section 24

Authorizes the Revisor of Statutes to substitute "Public Staff" for "public staff" wherever the term appears in GS Chapter 62.

Section 25

Authorizes the Revisor of Statutes to substitute "rate-making" for "rate making" wherever the term appears in GS Chapter 62.

Section 26

Amends GS 62-300 to increase from $25 to $250 the application fee for a person (other than Class A, B, C, or D utilities) seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity, effective July 1, 2021.

Section 27

Enacts GS 62-110(j) to authorize the Commission to allow a lessor of a multi-unit apartment building, with approval of the Commission, to use a master meter to charge each tenant for the electricity or natural gas used by a central system on each tenant's metered or measured share. Provides for additional provisions of the statute that apply to electricity used by a central system and natural gas used by a central system. Makes conforming changes to GS 42-42.1, and amends the statute to prohibit a landlord from terminating a lessee's receipt of the benefits of the use of a central system due to the lessee's nonpayment of the amount due for electric service, water or sewer services, or natural gas service. Makes conforming changes to GS 143-151.42 concerning the prohibition of master meters for electric and natural gas service, and amends the statute to exempt from the statute's provisions a multi-unit residential building or building complex where natural gas service delivered to a master meter for use by the occupants of the units is limited to cooking, ventless fireplaces, or other ancillary purposes. Effective October 1, 2021.

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