Senate Bill No. 623
(By Senator Sypolt)
[Introduced February 17, 2012; referred to the Committee on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
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 requiring reduced capital improvements fees under certain circumstances.
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, on or before July 1, 2012, the commission shall promulgate an emergency legislative rule or enter an order that provides an affordable housing rate differential in capital improvement fees charged by operating water and sewer systems. The rule or order shall provide that capital improvement fees charged for water or sewer connections shall provide a differential rate for manufactured housing and, in lieu of a one-time fee, may provide for a hook-up fee on the same lot or parcel of land using the same sewer hook-up. The rule or order shall limit the capital improvement fee for manufactured housing to be no more than ten percent of the capital improvement fee charged to a standard residential unit. The rule or order shall require that any water or sewer utility currently imposing an capital improvement fee revise its capital improvement fee within ninety days after promulgation of the rule or entry of the order to comply with this subsection and the emergency rule promulgated or order entered by the commission pursuant to this subsection. The rule or order shall apply to manufactured housing projects where the owner of the manufactured home rents or leases the real estate upon which the manufactured home is placed. The manufactured housing project shall be located in a manufactured housing subdivision approved by the county planning commission of the county in which the project is located and it is further required that the county shall have adopted subdivision regulations for the purpose of regulating manufactured housing subdivisions. As used in this subsection (c), “manufactured home” or “manufactured housing” have the meaning set forth in section one-qq, article one, chapter seventeen-a of this code.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the Public Service Commission to require capital improvement fees that include an affordable housing rate differential.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.