South Carolina Legislature


 

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H 3569
Session 109 (1991-1992) 

H 3569 General Bill, By I.K. Rudnick, J.M. Baxley, H.H. Keyserling and Kirsh
 A Bill to amend Section 58-5-240, as amended, Code of Laws of South Carolina,
 1976, relating to the rates of certain gas, heat, and water companies; Section
 58-9-540, as amended, relating to the rates of telephone and telegraph
 companies; Section 58-11-70, relating to the rates of radio common carriers;
 and Section 58-27-870, as amended, relating to the rates of electric
 utilities, so as to eliminate the right of these utilities or companies to put
 requested rate increases into effect under bond during the pendency of an
 appeal; and to repeal Section 58-1-50 relating to certain interest required
 when proposed rate increases put into effect under bond are disallowed in
 whole or in part.

   02/21/91  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-4
   02/21/91  House  Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and
                     Industry HJ-5
   02/25/92  House  Tabled in committee



A BILL

TO AMEND SECTION 58-5-240, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE RATES OF CERTAIN GAS, HEAT, AND WATER COMPANIES; SECTION 58-9-540, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE RATES OF TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANIES; SECTION 58-11-70, RELATING TO THE RATES OF RADIO COMMON CARRIERS; AND SECTION 58-27-870, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE RATES OF ELECTRIC UTILITIES, SO AS TO ELIMINATE THE RIGHT OF THESE UTILITIES OR COMPANIES TO PUT REQUESTED RATE INCREASES INTO EFFECT UNDER BOND DURING THE PENDENCY OF AN APPEAL; AND TO REPEAL SECTION 58-1-50 RELATING TO CERTAIN INTEREST REQUIRED WHEN PROPOSED RATE INCREASES PUT INTO EFFECT UNDER BOND ARE DISALLOWED IN WHOLE OR IN PART.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Section 58-5-240 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 184 of 1989, is further amended to read:

"Section 58-5-240. (A) Whenever a public utility desires to put into operation a new rate, toll, rental, charge, or classification, or a new regulation, it shall give not less than thirty days' notice of its intention to file and shall, after the expiration of the notice period, shall then file with the commission a schedule setting forth the proposed changes. Subject to the provisions of subsections (D) and (E) of this section, the proposed changes must not be put into effect in full or in part until approved by the commission.

(B) After the schedule has been filed, the commission shall, after notice to the public such as the commission may prescribe, shall hold a public hearing concerning the lawfulness or reasonableness of the proposed changes.

(C) The commission shall rule and issue its order approving or disapproving the changes in full or in part within six months after the date the schedule is filed.

(D) Should the commission determine that it cannot, due to circumstances reasonably beyond its control, issue such the order within the six-month period prescribed by this section, the commission, may, by order, may extend the six-month period for an additional five days. Any such order shall must set forth such the circumstances and make appropriate findings concerning the need for the extended period.

If the commission rules and issues its order within the time aforesaid prescribed, and the utility shall appeal appeals from the order, by filing with the commission a petition for rehearing, the utility may not put the rates requested in its schedule into effect under bond only during the appeal and until final disposition of the case including court appeals, if any. Such bond must be in a reasonable amount approved by the Commission, with sureties approved by the Commission, conditioned upon the refund, in a manner to be prescribed by order of the Commission, to the persons, corporations, or municipalities, respectively, entitled to the amount of the excess, if the rate or rates put into effect are finally determined to be excessive; or there may be substituted for the bond other arrangements satisfactory to the Commission for the protection of parties interested. During any period in which a utility shall charge increased rates under bond, it shall provide records or other evidence of payments made by its subscribers or patrons under the rate or rates which the utility has put into operation in excess of the rate or rates in effect immediately prior to the filing of the schedule.

All increases in rates put into effect under the provisions of this section which are not approved and for which a refund is required shall bear interest at a rate of twelve percent per annum.

The interest shall commence on the date the disallowed increase is paid and continue until the date the refund is made.

In all cases in which a refund is due, the Commission shall order a total refund of the difference between the amount collected under bond and the amount finally approved.

(E) If the commission fails to rule or issue its order within the time prescribed in subsection (C) or subsection (D) of this section, the utility may put into effect the change in rates it requested in its schedule. The change is to be treated as an approval of the new rate schedule by the commission.

(F) After the date the schedule is filed with the commission, no further rate change request under this section may be filed until twelve months have elapsed from the date of the filing of the schedule; provided, however, this section shall does not apply to a request for a rate reduction.

(G) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the commission may allow rates or tariffs to be put into effect without a hearing upon order of the commission when such the rates or tariffs do not require a determination of the entire rate structure and overall rate of return, or when the rates or tariffs do not result in any rate increase to the public utility, or when the rates or tariffs are for experimental purposes.

(H) The commission's determination of a fair rate of return must be documented fully in its findings of fact and based exclusively on reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record. The commission shall specify an allowable operating margin in all water and wastewater orders."

SECTION 2. Section 58-9-540 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 184 of 1989, is further amended to read:

"Section 58-9-540. (A) Whenever there is filed with the commission by any telephone utility a schedule stating a new rate or rates which affect the telephone utility's general body of subscribers, the commission shall, after notice to the public such as the commission may prescribe, shall hold a hearing concerning the lawfulness or reasonableness of the rate or rates, provided, however, that when the proposed rate or tariff is a proposal to institute or modify an offering or regulation that is not part of a general rate case and does not affect the telephone utility's general body of subscribers, the commission may approve such the filing without a hearing. Whenever a new rate is requested which affects the telephone utility's general body of subscribers, the commission shall rule and issue its order approving or disapproving the changes in full or in part within six months of the time of filing.

(B) Should the commission determine that it cannot, due to circumstances reasonably beyond its control, issue such the order within the six-month period prescribed by this section, the commission, may, by order, extend the six-month period for an additional five days. Any such order shall must set forth such the circumstances and make appropriate findings concerning the need for the extended period.

If the commission rules and issues its order within the time aforesaid prescribed, and the utility shall appeal appeals from the order, by filing with the commission a petition for rehearing, the utility may not put the rates requested in its schedule into effect under bond only during the appeal and until final disposition of the case including court appeals, if any. Such bond must be in a reasonable amount approved by the Commission, with sureties approved by the Commission, conditioned upon the refund, in a manner to be prescribed by order of the Commission, to the persons, corporations, or municipalities respectively entitled to the amount of the excess, if the rate or rates put into effect are finally determined to be excessive; or there may be substituted for the bond other arrangements satisfactory to the Commission for the protection of parties interested. During any period in which a utility shall charge increased rates under bond, it shall provide records or other evidence of payments made by its subscribers or patrons under the rate or rates which the utility has put into operation in excess of the rate or rates in effect immediately prior to the filing of the schedule.

All increases in rates put into effect under the provisions of this section which are not approved and for which a refund is required shall bear interest at a rate of twelve percent per annum. The interest shall commence on the date the disallowed increase is paid and continue until the date the refund is made.

In all cases in which a refund is due, the Commission shall order a total refund of the difference between the amount collected under bond and the amount finally approved.

(C) If the commission fails to rule or issue its order within the time prescribed in subsection (A) or (B) of this section, the utility may put into effect the change in rates it requested in its schedule. The change is to be treated as an approval of the new rate schedule by the commission.

(D) After the date the schedule, which affects the telephone utility's general body of subscribers, is filed with the commission, no further rate change request which affects the telephone utility's general body of subscribers may be filed until twelve months have elapsed from the date of the filing of the schedule; provided, however, this section shall does not apply to a request for rate reduction.

(E) The commission's determination of a fair rate of return must be documented fully in its findings of fact and based exclusively on reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record."

SECTION 3. Section 58-11-70 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 58-11-70. (A) Whenever there is filed with the commission by any radio common carrier, a schedule stating a new rate or rates which affects the radio common carrier's general body of subscribers, the commission shall, after notice to the public such as the commission may prescribe, shall hold a hearing concerning the lawfulness or reasonableness of the rate or rates; provided, however, that when the proposed rate is a proposal to institute or modify an offering or regulation that is not part of a general rate case and does not affect the radio common carrier's general body of subscribers, the commission may approve such the filing with a hearing.

(B) The commission shall rule and issue its order approving or disapproving the changes in full or in part within six months of the time of filing. If the commission rules and issues its order within the time aforesaid prescribed, and the radio common carrier shall appeal from the order, by filing with the commission a petition for rehearing, the radio common carrier may not put the rate or rates requested in its schedule into effect under bond during the appeal and until final disposition of the case including court appeals, if any. The bond must be filed with the Commission and must be in a reasonable amount approved by the Commission, with sureties approved by the Commission, conditioned upon the refund, in a manner to be prescribed by order of the Commission, to the persons, corporations, or municipalities respectively entitled to the amount of excess, if the rate or rates put into effect are finally determined to be excessive. There may be substituted for the bond other arrangements satisfactory to the Commission for the protection of the parties interested.

During any period in which a radio common carrier shall charge increased rates under bond, it shall provide records or other evidence of payments made by its subscribers under the rate or rates which the radio common carrier has put into operation in excess of the rate or rates in effect immediately prior to the filing of its schedule.

All increases in rates put into effect under the provisions of this section which are not approved and for which a refund is required shall bear interest at a rate of twelve percent per annum. The interest shall commence on the date the disallowed increase is paid and continue until the date the refund is made.

In all cases in which a refund is due, the Commission shall order a total refund of the difference between the amount collected under bond and the amount finally approved.

(C) If the commission fails to rule and issue its order within six months after the date the schedule is filed, the radio common carrier may put into effect the change in rate or rates it requested in its schedule. The change is to be treated as an approval of the new rate schedule by the commission.

(D) After the date the schedule, which affects the radio common carrier's general body of subscribers, is filed with the commission, no further rate change request which affects the radio common carrier's general body of subscribers may be filed until twelve months have elapsed from the date of the filing of the schedule; provided, however, this section shall does not apply to a request for a rate reduction."

SECTION 4. Section 58-27-870 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 184 of 1989, is further amended to read:

"Section 58-27-870. (A) After a schedule setting forth the proposed changes in its rates or tariffs has been filed, the commission shall hold a public hearing concerning the lawfulness or reasonableness of the proposed changes.

(B) When the proposed changes relate to rates or tariffs the commission shall rule and issue its order approving or disapproving the changes within six months after the date the schedule is filed.

(C) Should the commission determine that it cannot, due to circumstances reasonably beyond its control, issue such the order within the six-month period prescribed by this section, the commission, may, by order, may extend the six-month period for an additional five days. Any such order shall must set forth such the circumstances and make appropriate findings concerning the need for the extended period.

If the commission rules and issues its order within the time aforesaid prescribed, and the utility shall appeal appeals from the order, by filing with the commission a petition for rehearing, the utility may not put the rates requested in its schedule into effect under bond only during the appeal and until final disposition of the case including court appeals, if any. Such bond must be in a reasonable amount approved by the Commission, with sureties approved by the Commission, conditioned upon the refund, in a manner to be prescribed by order of the Commission, to the persons, corporations, or municipalities respectively entitled to the amount of the excess, if the rate or rates put into effect are finally determined to be excessive; or there may be substituted for the bond other arrangements satisfactory to the Commission for the protection of parties interested. During any period in which a utility shall charge increased rates under bond, it shall provide records or other evidence of payments made by its subscribers or patrons under the rate or rates which the utility has put into operation in excess of the rate or rates in effect immediately prior to the filing of the schedule.

All increases in rates put into effect under the provisions of this section which are not approved and for which a refund is required shall bear interest at a rate of twelve percent per annum. The interest shall commence on the date the disallowed increase is paid and continue until the date the refund is made.

In all cases in which a refund is due the Commission shall order a total refund of the difference between the amount collected under bond and the amount finally approved.

(D) If the commission fails to rule or issue its order within the time prescribed in subsections (B) or (C) of this section, the utility may put into effect the change in rates it requested in its schedule. The change is to be treated as an approval of the new rate schedule by the commission.

(E) After the date the schedule is filed with the commission, no further rate change request under this section may be filed until twelve months have elapsed from the date of the filing of the schedule; provided, however, this section shall does not apply to a request for rate reduction.

(F) Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 58-27-860 and 58-27-870 this section, the commission may allow rates or tariffs to be put into effect without notice and hearing upon order of the commission when such these rates or tariffs do not require a determination of the entire rate structure and overall rate of return, or when the rates or tariffs do not result in any rate increase to the electrical utility, or when the rates or tariffs are for experimental purposes, or when the rates or tariffs so filed are otherwise necessary to obtain an orderly rate administration.

(G) The commission's determination of a fair rate of return must be documented fully in its findings of fact and based exclusively on reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record."

SECTION 5. Section 58-1-50 of the 1976 Code is repealed.

SECTION 6. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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