1997 Regular Session

To: Public Utilities

By: Senator(s) Hawks

Senate Bill 2150

(As Sent to Governor)



SECTION 1. Section 77-3-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

77-3-37. (1) No public utility shall make any change in any rate which has been duly established under this chapter, except as provided in this chapter. A public utility seeking a change in any rate or rates shall file with the secretary of the commission and the executive director of the public utilities staff a notice of intent to change rates. The commission may promulgate rules and regulations providing for notice to customers of the filing by any public utility for a rate increase. Routine changes in rates and schedules that do not involve any substantial revenue adjustment may go into effect after thirty (30) days' notice to the commission or after such shorter period of notice as the commission, for good cause shown, may allow. In all other cases, the notice of intent shall contain a statement of the changes proposed to be made in the rates then in force, the new level of revenues sought, the reasons for the proposed changes and the date proposed for such changes to become effective, which date shall not be less than thirty (30) days after the date of filing. The proposed changes may be shown by filing new schedules, by plainly indicating the changes upon schedules filed and in force at the time and kept open to public inspection or by such other manner as will clearly indicate the rates to be changed and the rates proposed. All direct testimony, exhibits and other information which any utility will rely upon in support of the proposed changes shall be filed concurrently with the filing of the notice of intent. Such other data or documentation as the commission shall request shall be supplied by such utility.

(2) The commission shall establish by rule and regulation a standard requirement list of documentation to be filed with or to be included in every notice of intent. With respect to any notice of intent involving a major change in rates as defined in subsection (8) of this section, the standard requirement list in each case shall include:

(a) A copy of its charter or articles of incorporation, if not already on file with the commission;

(b) A schedule of the present rates, fares, tolls, charges or rentals in effect, and the changes it is desired to make;

(c) A balance sheet of the utility prepared as of the last day of the latest month in which data shall be readily available;

(d) An actual operating statement setting forth revenue and expenses by account numbers for the twelve (12) months ending as the date of the balance sheet applicable to the utility filing the notice of intent;

(e) A pro forma operating statement in the same form as the actual operating statement showing estimate of revenue and expenses for the twelve-month period beginning with the effective date of the changed rates (i) without giving effect to the changed rates and (ii) giving effect to the changed rates;

(f) A pro forma operating statement in the same form as the actual operating statement for the same period giving effect to the proposed changes in rates and adjusted for known changes in the cost of operations;

(g) A statement showing the number of stations or customers by classes affected by the * * * proposed changes in rates, the actual revenue under the old rates arising from each class and the annual amount of the proposed increase or decrease applicable to each class;

(h) A description of the utility's property, including a statement of the original cost of the property and the cost to the utility;

(i) A statement in full of the reasons why the change in rates is desired so that the commission may clearly see the justification therefor;

(j) The amount and kinds of stock authorized;

(k) The amount and kinds of stock issued and outstanding;

(l) The number and amount of bonds authorized and the number and amount issued;

(m) The rate and amount of dividends paid during the five (5) previous fiscal years, and the amount of capital stock on which dividends were paid each year;

(n) An analysis of surplus covering the period from the close of the last calendar year for which an annual report has been filed with the commission to the date of the balance sheet attached to the notice.

(3) The commission may, by rule and regulation, require the utility filing a notice of intent to change rates to supplement the above data with such other information as the commission or the public utilities staff may reasonably request.

(4) Unless the commission, upon application by a utility and for good cause shown, shall enter an order waiving one or more of the following requirements, then whenever a public utility files a notice of intent wherein an increase in the level of annual revenues in the amount of at least Fifteen Million Dollars ($15,000,000.00) is sought, the * * * standard requirement list of documentation shall include:

(a) Guidelines or directives as to the public utility's presentation provided by a controlling affiliate, parent or holding company;

(b) Marginal cost data;

(c) Alternate rate design;

(d) Conservation effectiveness;

(e) A properly prepared, complete, detailed lead-lag study for the test year for the total company, Mississippi retail, other retail jurisdictions and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wholesale rates in support of the public utility's total working capital requirement contained therein, including all working papers in support thereof;

(f) Direct testimony proposed to be offered at a hearing.

(5) The notice of intent for major changes in rates as defined in subsection (8) of this section shall state the test period adopted by the public utility in support of its proposed rate changes, which may be a twelve-month period beginning with the proposed effective date of the rates proposed in the notice. For the purpose of expediting the regulatory process, all public utilities shall keep the commission advised of their plans or needs for future requests for major rate changes.

(6) Within five (5) days after the notice of intent has been filed, the utility shall serve a copy of the notice of intent without documentation on all parties of record in its last proceeding in which a major change in rates was sought, and shall file a certificate of service with the commission. Thereafter, a copy of all material filed by the utility shall be furnished by the utility to those persons as may be provided for by the commission's rules and regulations.

(7)(a) When the rates in a notice of intent are suspended by commission order, the commission may issue a scheduling order which establishes deadlines for submitting data requests, responding to data requests, conducting prehearing conferences and hearings and disposing of other matters necessary for the orderly disposition of the case.

(b) The public utilities staff and all intervenors or protestants shall file all direct testimony, exhibits and other information which is to be relied upon regarding the proposed changes within eighty (80) days from the filing of such notice of intent. At the time of filing direct testimony, exhibits and other information, each party filing such documents shall serve copies of the documentation on all other parties of record and shall file a certificate of service with the commission.

(8) The commission, for good cause shown, may, except in the case of major changes, allow changes in rates to take effect at the end of thirty (30) days from the date of the filing and the notice of intent, or on the effective date set out in the notice, without requiring any further proceedings, under such conditions as it may prescribe. All such changes shall be immediately indicated by such public utility upon its schedules. "Major changes" means (a) an increase in rates which would increase the annual revenues of such public utility more than the greater of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) or two percent (2%), but shall not include changes in rates allowed to go into effect by the commission or made by the public utility pursuant to an order of the commission after hearings held upon notice to the public, or (b) a change in the rate design which has a significant impact on a class or classes of ratepayers.

(9) For all major changes in rates and schedules as defined in subsection (8) of this section, a public utility as defined in Section 77-3-3(d)(iv) shall provide, not later than twenty (20) days after filing the notice of intent to change rates, notice of such proposed change within each affected customer's bill or invoice and in a newspaper having general circulation in the area where service is being provided by the public utility. The notice shall state the date on which the notice of intent was filed with the commission and shall include a financial impact statement showing the average amount of increase to customers by class and usage. The filing public utility shall file a copy of the notice, along with a certificate with the executive secretary of the commission, verifying that notice to each of the utility's affected customers was provided in a timely manner.

SECTION 2. Section 77-3-47, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

77-3-47. The commission may, in addition to the hearings specifically provided for by this chapter, conduct such other hearings as may be deemed necessary in the administration of the powers and duties conferred upon it by this title.

The commission shall fix the time and place of hearings and shall serve notice thereof, not less than twenty (20) days before the time set for such hearings, unless the commission shall find that public convenience or necessity requires that such hearings be held at an earlier date. The commission may dismiss any complaint without a hearing if in its opinion a hearing is not necessary in the public interest or for the protection of substantial rights. Notice of all such hearings shall be given the persons interested therein by mailing such notice to each public utility which may be affected by any order resulting therefrom and by publication in a newspaper of general circulation published in Jackson, Mississippi, and, in a proceeding for a facility certificate or an area certificate, by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties where the facility or area is located. In addition to any other notice requirements prescribed in this section, notice of a hearing regarding a major change in rates and schedules, as defined in Section 77-3-7(8), by a public utility of the type defined in Section 77-3-3(d)(iv) shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in an area where service is being provided by the public utility.

At the time fixed for any hearing before the commission, or the time to which the same may have been continued, the complainant and the person complained of shall be entitled in person or by attorney to be heard and to introduce evidence.

SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.