A. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the Commission shall promulgate regulations and standards under which any owner, operator, or manager of an apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground, which is not individually metered for electricity or gas for each dwelling unit, nonresidential rental unit, or campsite may install submetering equipment or energy allocation equipment for the purpose of fairly allocating (a) the cost of electrical or gas consumption for each dwelling unit, nonresidential rental unit, or campsite and (b) electrical or gas demand and customer charges made by the utility. In addition to other appropriate safeguards for the tenant, the regulations shall require (i) that an apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground owner shall not impose on the tenant any charges, over and above the cost per kilowatt hour, cubic foot or therm, plus demand and customer charges, where applicable, which are charged by the utility company to the owner, including any sales, local utility, or other taxes, if any, except that additional service charges permitted by § 55-226.2 may be collected to cover administrative costs and billing, and (ii) that the apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground owner shall maintain adequate records regarding submetering and energy allocation equipment and shall make such records available for inspection by the Commission during reasonable business hours. The provisions of this section shall not restrict the right of the owner, operator or manager to recover in periodic lease payments the tenant’s fair share of electricity or gas costs attributable to owner-paid areas and costs incurred by the owner, operator or manager in establishing and maintaining the submetering or energy allocation equipment.
B. Only for purposes of Commission enforcement of the regulations adopted under this section, the owners, operators, or managers of apartment houses, office buildings, shopping centers, or campgrounds included within the purview of this article shall be treated as public service corporations under §§ 56-5, 56-6 and 56-7. All submetering equipment shall be subject to the same regulations and standards established by the Commission for accuracy, testing, and record keeping of meters installed by electric or gas utilities and shall be subject to the meter requirements of § 56-245.1. All energy allocation equipment shall be subject to regulations and standards established by the Commission to ensure that such systems result in a reasonable determination of energy use and the resulting costs for each dwelling unit, nonresidential rental unit, or campsite. Violations of Commission regulations and orders issued under this section shall be subject to the penalty set forth in § 12.1-33.
C. In implementing this section, no apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground shall be considered a public utility or public service corporation engaged in the business of distributing or reselling electricity or gas except as provided in subsection B. The apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground may use submetering or energy allocation equipment solely to allocate the costs of electric or gas service fairly among the tenants using the apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground.
1978, c. 392; 1979, c. 313; 1980, c. 741; 1986, c. 11; 1988, c. 231; 1989, c. 188; 1991, c. 573; 1992, c. 766; 2003, c. 355; 2012, c. 338.