Senate Bill No. 623
(By Senator Sypolt)
[Originating in the Committee on Government Organization;
reported February 23, 2012.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §24-2-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating generally to the power of the Public Service Commission to regulate public utilities; and authorizing the Public Service Commission to promulgate rules establishing requirements for capacity improvement fees.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §24-2-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. POWERS AND DUTIES OF PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.
§24-2-2. General power of commission to regulate public utilities.
(a) The commission is hereby given power to investigate all rates, methods and practices of public utilities subject to the provisions of this chapter; to require them to conform to the laws of this state and to all rules, regulations and orders of the commission not contrary to law; and to require copies of all reports, rates, classifications, schedules and timetables in effect and used by the public utility or other person, to be filed with the commission, and all other information desired by the commission relating to the investigation and requirements, including inventories of all property in such form and detail as the commission may prescribe. The commission may compel obedience to its lawful orders by mandamus or injunction or other proper proceedings in the name of the state in any circuit court having jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter, or the Supreme Court of Appeals direct, and the proceedings shall have priority over all pending cases. The commission may change any intrastate rate, charge or toll which is unjust or unreasonable or any interstate charge with respect to matters of a purely local nature which have not been regulated by or pursuant to an act of Congress and may prescribe a rate, charge or toll that is just and reasonable, and change or prohibit any practice, device or method of service in order to prevent undue discrimination or favoritism between persons and between localities and between commodities for a like and contemporaneous service. But in no case shall the rate, toll or charge be more than the service is reasonably worth, considering the cost of the service. Every order entered by the commission shall continue in force until the expiration of the time, if any, named by the commission in the order, or until revoked or modified by the commission, unless the order is suspended, modified or revoked by order or decree of a court of competent jurisdiction: Provided, That in the case of utilities used by emergency shelter providers, the commission shall prescribe such rates, charges or tolls that are the lowest available. "Emergency shelter provider" means any nonprofit entity which provides temporary emergency housing and services to the homeless or to victims of domestic violence or other abuse.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, rates are not discriminatory if, when considering the debt costs associated with a future water or sewer project which would not benefit existing customers, the commission establishes rates which ensure that the future customers to be served by the new project are solely responsible for the debt costs associated with the project.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, the Commission shall promulgate and adopt rules to establish or modify a capacity improvement fee or existing capacity improvement fee for residential and commercial customers for inclusion in the tariff of a private, public or municipal water or sewer utility. The rules shall include the following:
(1) A capacity improvement fee based upon the estimated cost of future additions or upgrades for capacity required to serve the capacity demand by the new connection compared to the overall demand due to customer growth;
(2) The fee that applies to developers and owners of structures that seek to connect to water and sewer systems;
(3) The criteria for establishing the fee, including, but not limited to, expected growth in population that will be served by the utility, the capacity requirement to serve that population growth and the expected exhaustion date of existing capacity;
(4) The reasonableness of establishing differentials in the fee or limitations on the amount of or calculation of fees based upon a relative cost of housing index created pursuant to the provisions of section two-b, article one, chapter eleven of this code, and the fee differentials shall not be considered discriminatory rates within the meaning of this chapter;
(5) An affordable housing component with a discount capacity improvement fee schedule based upon the new home’s value compared to the most recent annual single dwelling residential housing index created pursuant to the provisions of section two-b, article one, chapter eleven of this code;
(6) A lower fee for manufactured housing equal to twenty-five percent of the otherwise applicable fee for a standard residential housing unit;
(7) A fee schedule and maximum fee for a commercial development and a residential development with multiple units;
(8) A requirement that the revenue from the capacity improvement fees be deposited in a separate account to be used only for future capital improvements; and
(9) Any other criteria relating to existing and proposed capacity improvement fees the commission deems necessary to effectuate the provisions of this subsection.