A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 56-235.4, a natural gas utility may file a system expansion plan as provided in this chapter. Such a plan shall provide for (i) a business rationale explaining that the expansion plan is in the public interest and of benefit to the affected customers served under the system expansion plan, (ii) the period the system expansion rider is proposed to be in effect, (iii) the estimated eligible system expansion infrastructure costs and a maximum level of investment to be included in the program, (iv) a maximum level of investment per affected customer, (v) the projected number of customers by rate class that will be served by the proposed investment, (vi) a schedule for recovery of the related eligible system expansion infrastructure costs through a system expansion rider, (vii) a methodology for deferral of unrecovered eligible system expansion infrastructure costs, calculated as determined pursuant to § 56-612, (viii) the class or classes of customers eligible to participate in a system expansion plan, and (ix) the period of time that a customer at a premises receiving natural gas service from eligible system expansion infrastructure will be considered an affected customer for purposes of this chapter. The natural gas utility shall demonstrate that the system expansion plan is prudent and reasonable. The Commission may approve such a plan after such notice and opportunity for a hearing as the Commission may prescribe, subject to the provisions of this chapter.
B. The Commission shall approve a natural gas utility’s system expansion plan if it finds that the plan (i) includes the components set forth in subsection A, (ii) provides for the recovery of eligible system expansion infrastructure costs in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, and (iii) is prudent and reasonable. In a final order approving a natural gas utility’s system expansion plan, the Commission may require the natural gas utility to file an annual report with the Commission demonstrating whether the natural gas utility’s recovery of eligible system expansion infrastructure costs pursuant to its system expansion plan complies with the requirements of clause (ii). Upon a finding by the Commission that a natural gas utility’s system expansion plan does not comply with the requirements of clause (ii), the Commission may direct, by order, the natural gas utility to exclude from deferral any unrecovered costs in excess of costs that may be recovered by a system expansion rider.
C. The Commission shall act on a natural gas utility’s initial application for a system expansion plan within 180 days. Within that time period, the Commission shall approve, deny, or modify the plan as required by the public interest. A plan filed pursuant to this section shall not require the filing of rate schedules typically filed in conjunction with a rate case using the cost-of-service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2 or a performance-based rate regulation plan authorized by § 56-235.6. The Commission shall act on a natural gas utility’s application to amend a previously approved plan within 120 days. Within that time period, the Commission shall approve, deny, or modify the amended plan as required by the public interest. If the Commission denies such a plan or amendment or any part thereof, it shall set forth with specificity the reasons for such denial, and the utility shall have the right to refile, without prejudice, an amended plan or amendment within 60 days, and the Commission shall thereafter have 90 days to approve or deny the amended plan or amendment. The time period for Commission review provided for in this subsection shall not apply if the system expansion plan is filed in conjunction with a rate case using the cost-of-service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2 or a performance-based rate regulation plan authorized by § 56-235.6.
D. Any system expansion plan and any system expansion rider that is submitted to and approved by the Commission shall allocate and charge costs in accordance with the appropriate cost causation principles in order to avoid any undue cross-subsidization between rate classes.
F. Costs recovered pursuant to this chapter shall be in addition to all other costs that the natural gas utility is permitted to recover, shall not be considered an offset to other Commission-approved costs of service or revenue requirements, and shall not be included in any computation relative to a performance-based regulation plan revenue-sharing mechanism.
G. A natural gas utility shall have the opportunity to seek recovery of any costs associated with eligible expansion investment not yet recovered at the end of a system expansion plan in a rate case using the cost-of-service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2 or performance-based regulation plan authorized by § 56-235.6. Such recovery shall be subject to Commission approval based upon a determination that the benefits provided by affected customers added under the system expansion plan or plans equal or exceed the impact of recovering such costs from existing customers of the natural gas utility.
2015, cc. 28, 231.