§ 56-235.6

Optional performance-based regulation of certain utilities

A. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Commission may approve a performance-based ratemaking methodology for any public utility engaged in the business of furnishing gas service (for the purposes of this section a “gas utility”) or electricity service (for the purposes of this section an “electric utility”), upon application of the gas utility or electric utility, and after such notice and opportunity for hearing as the Commission may prescribe. For the purposes of this section, “performance-based ratemaking methodology” shall mean a method of establishing rates and charges that are in the public interest, and that departs in whole or in part from the cost-of-service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2.

B. The Commission shall approve such performance-based ratemaking methodology if it finds that it: (i) preserves adequate service to all classes of customers ( including transportation-only customers if for a gas utility); (ii) does not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any class of gas utility or electric utility customers; (iii) provides incentives for improved performance by the gas utility or electric utility in the conduct of its public duties; (iv) results in rates that are not excessive; and (v) is in the public interest. Performance-based forms of regulation may include, but not be limited to, fixed or capped base rates, the use of revenue indexing, price indexing, ranges of authorized return, gas cost indexing for gas utilities, and innovative utilization of utility-related assets and activities (such as a gas utility’s off-system sales of excess gas supplies and release of upstream pipeline capacity, performance of billing services for other gas or electricity suppliers, and reduction or elimination of regulatory requirements) in ways that benefit both the utility and its customers and may include a mechanism for automatic annual adjustments to revenues or prices to reflect changes in any index adopted for the implementation of such performance-based form of regulation. In making the findings required by this subsection, the Commission shall include, but not be limited to, in its considerations: (i) any proposed measures, including investments in infrastructure, that are reasonably estimated to preserve or improve system reliability, safety, supply diversity, and gas utility transportation options; and (ii) other customer benefits that are reasonably estimated to accrue from the gas or electric utility’s proposal.

C. Each gas utility or electric utility shall have the option to apply for implementation of a performance-based form of regulation. If the Commission approves the application with modifications, the gas utility or electric utility may, at its option, withdraw its application and continue to be regulated under the form of regulation that existed immediately prior to the filing of the application. The Commission may, after notice and opportunity for hearing, alter, amend or revoke, or authorize a gas utility or electric utility to discontinue, a performance-based form of regulation previously implemented under this section if it finds that (i) service to one or more classes of customers has deteriorated, or will deteriorate, to the point that the public interest will not be served by continuation of the performance-based form of regulation; (ii) any class of gas utility customer or electric utility customer is being unreasonably prejudiced or disadvantaged by the performance-based form of regulation; (iii) the performance-based form of regulation does not, or will not, provide reasonable incentives for improved performance by a gas utility or electric utility in the conduct of its public duties (which determination may include, but not be limited to, consideration of whether rates are inadequate to recover a gas utility’s or electric utility’s cost of service); (iv) the performance-based form of regulation is resulting in rates that are excessive compared to a gas utility’s or electric utility’s cost of service and any benefits that accrue from the performance-based plan; (v) the terms ordered by the Commission in connection with approval of a gas utility’s or electric utility’s implementation of a performance-based form of regulation have been violated; or (vi) the performance-based form of regulation is no longer in the public interest. Any request by a gas utility or electric utility to discontinue its implementation of a performance-based form of regulation may include application pursuant to this chapter for approval of new rates under the standards of § 56-235.2 for a gas utility or pursuant to § 56-585.1 for an investor-owned incumbent electric utility.

D. The Commission shall use the annual review process established in § 56-234.2 to monitor each performance-based form of regulation approved under this section and to make any annual prospective adjustments to revenues or prices necessary to reflect increases or decreases in any index adopted for the implementation of such performance-based form of regulation.

History

1996, c. 350; 2006, c. 574; 2007, cc. 888, 933.

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