as introduced - 82nd Legislature (2001 - 2002) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A bill for an act 1.2 relating to energy; imposing a duty on the public 1.3 utilities commission to ensure accurate, clear, and 1.4 informative utility bills; requiring public utilities 1.5 to offer budget plans, subject to commission approval 1.6 and oversight; requiring the public utilities 1.7 commission to investigate public utility billing 1.8 practices; providing for penalties; making technical 1.9 and clarifying changes; amending Minnesota Statutes 1.10 2000, section 216B.08; proposing coding for new law in 1.11 Minnesota Statutes, chapter 216B. 1.12 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 1.13 Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 216B.08, is 1.14 amended to read: 1.15 216B.08 [DUTIES OF COMMISSION.] 1.16 Subdivision 1. [DUTIES GENERALLY.] The commission is 1.17
herebyvested with the powers, rights, functions, and 1.18 jurisdiction to regulate, in accordance with the provisions of1.19 Laws 1974,this chapter 429, every public utility as defined 1.20 hereinin section 216B.02, subdivision 4. The exercise of such1.21 these powers, rights, functions, and jurisdiction is prescribed 1.22 as a duty of the commission. The commission is authorized to 1.23 make rules in furtherance of the purposes of Laws 1974,this 1.24 chapter 429. 1.25 Subd. 2. [BILLING PRACTICES.] The commission has a duty to 1.26 ensure that communications, including customer bills, between a 1.27 public utility and a customer of the utility are accurate, 1.28 clear, and informative. The commission shall, by rule or order, 2.1 establish and maintain standards for utility communications and 2.2 billing practices and, notwithstanding any provision to the 2.3 contrary, may impose any appropriate penalty on a public utility 2.4 that is determined by the commission to be in substantial 2.5 violation of these standards. 2.6 Sec. 2. [216B.098] [UTILITY BUDGET PLANS.] 2.7 (a) A public utility shall offer a residential customer the 2.8 option of paying an average monthly bill, based on the 2.9 customer's past energy use or other appropriate estimate, rather 2.10 than the customer's regular monthly bill. The utility shall 2.11 continue to provide the customer's usage and rate information to 2.12 the customer on a monthly basis while the customer is on the 2.13 budget plan, but the customer will only be obligated to pay the 2.14 average monthly payment. The utility shall review the estimated 2.15 usage and rate on a quarterly basis and adjust the budgeted 2.16 amount accordingly. Before adjusting a customer's average 2.17 monthly payment under the budget plan, the utility must seek and 2.18 receive commission approval and give the customer prominent 2.19 prior notice. 2.20 (b) Each public utility shall report to the commission 2.21 annually, on a schedule established by the commission by order, 2.22 on the policies and practices of the public utility with regard 2.23 to the budget option offered under this section. 2.24 Sec. 3. [BILLING PRACTICES; INVESTIGATION.] 2.25 The public utilities commission shall investigate the 2.26 billing practices of the public utilities regulated by the 2.27 commission, to ensure that the billing practices result in 2.28 accurate, clear, and informative bills and that a residential or 2.29 small business utility consumer is paying only the amount due 2.30 its utility for services rendered. The commission shall pay 2.31 specific attention to the fuel costs incurred by each utility, 2.32 as well as each utility's procurement practices. The attorney 2.33 general and the commissioner of commerce shall participate in 2.34 this investigation. The commission shall report its findings 2.35 and conclusions, along with any recommendations for future 2.36 regulatory or legislative action, to the legislature by August 3.1 1, 2001. 3.2 Sec. 4. [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 3.3 Sections 1 to 3 are effective the day following final 3.4 enactment.