Utility Facilities Act§ 56-265.1. Definitions.
In this chapter the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(a) "Company" means a corporation, a limited liability company, an individual, a partnership, an association, a joint-stock company, a business trust, a cooperative, or an organized group of persons, whether incorporated or not; or any receiver, trustee or other liquidating agent of any of the foregoing in his capacity as such; but not a municipal corporation or a county, unless such municipal corporation or county has obtained a certificate pursuant to § 56-265.4:4.
(b) "Public utility" means any company which owns or operates facilities within the Commonwealth of Virginia for the generation, transmission or distribution of electric energy for sale, for the production, storage, transmission, or distribution, otherwise than in enclosed portable containers, of natural or manufactured gas or geothermal resources for sale for heat, light or power, or for the furnishing of telephone service, sewerage facilities or water; however, the term "public utility" shall not include any of the following:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in § 56-265.3:1, any company furnishing sewerage facilities, geothermal resources or water to less than 50 customers. Any company furnishing water or sewer services to 10 or more customers and excluded by this subdivision from the definition of "public utility" for purposes of this chapter nevertheless shall not abandon the water or sewer services unless and until approval is granted by the Commission or all the customers receiving such services agree to accept ownership of the company.
(2) Any company generating and distributing electric energy exclusively for its own consumption.
(3) Any company (A) which furnishes electric service together with heating and cooling services, generated at a central plant installed on the premises to be served, to the tenants of a building or buildings located on a single tract of land undivided by any publicly maintained highway, street or road at the time of installation of the central plant, and (B) which does not charge separately or by meter for electric energy used by any tenant except as part of a rental charge. Any company excluded by this subdivision from the definition of "public utility" for the purposes of this chapter nevertheless shall, within 30 days following the issuance of a building permit, notify the State Corporation Commission in writing of the ownership, capacity and location of such central plant, and it shall be subject, with regard to the quality of electric service furnished, to the provisions of Chapters 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.) and 17 (§ 56-509 et seq.) of this title and regulations thereunder and be deemed a public utility for such purposes, if such company furnishes such service to 100 or more lessees.
(4) Any company, or affiliate thereof, making a first or direct sale, or ancillary transmission or delivery service, of natural or manufactured gas to fewer than 35 commercial or industrial customers, which are not themselves "public utilities" as defined in this chapter, or to certain public schools as indicated in this subdivision, for use solely by such purchasing customers at facilities which are not located in a territory for which a certificate to provide gas service has been issued by the Commission under this chapter and which, at the time of the Commission's receipt of the notice provided under § 56-265.4:5, are not located within any area, territory, or jurisdiction served by a municipal corporation that provided gas distribution service as of January 1, 1992, provided that such company shall comply with the provisions of § 56-265.4:5. Direct sales or ancillary transmission or delivery services of natural gas to public schools in the following localities may be made without regard to the number of schools involved and shall not count against the "fewer than 35" requirement in this subdivision: the Counties of Dickenson, Wise, Russell, and Buchanan, and the City of Norton.
(5) Any company which is not a public service corporation and which provides compressed natural gas service at retail for the public.
(6) Any company selling landfill gas from a solid waste management facility permitted by the Department of Environmental Quality to a public utility certificated by the Commission to provide gas distribution service to the public in the area in which the solid waste management facility is located. If such company submits to the public utility a written offer for sale of such gas and the public utility does not agree within 60 days to purchase such gas on mutually satisfactory terms, then the company may sell such gas to (i) any facility owned and operated by the Commonwealth which is located within three miles of the solid waste management facility or (ii) any purchaser after such landfill gas has been liquefied. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to the City of Lynchburg or Fairfax County.
(7) Any authority created pursuant to the Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act (§ 15.2-5100 et seq.) making a sale or ancillary transmission or delivery service of landfill gas to a commercial or industrial customer from a solid waste management facility permitted by the Department of Environmental Quality and operated by that same authority, if such an authority limits off-premises sale, transmission or delivery service of landfill gas to no more than one purchaser. The authority may contract with other persons for the construction and operation of facilities necessary or convenient to the sale, transmission or delivery of landfill gas, and no such person shall be deemed a public utility solely by reason of its construction or operation of such facilities. If the purchaser of the landfill gas is located within the certificated service territory of a natural gas public utility, the public utility may file for Commission approval a proposed tariff to reflect any anticipated or known changes in service to the purchaser as a result of the use of landfill gas. No such tariff shall impose on the purchaser of the landfill gas terms less favorable than similarly situated customers with alternative fuel capabilities; provided, however, that such tariff may impose such requirements as are reasonably calculated to recover the cost of such service and to protect and ensure the safety and integrity of the public utility's facilities.
(8) A company selling or delivering only landfill gas, electricity generated from only landfill gas, or both, that is derived from a solid waste management facility permitted by the Department of Environmental Quality and sold or delivered from any such facility to not more than three commercial or industrial purchasers or to a natural gas or electric public utility, municipal corporation or county as authorized by this section. If a purchaser of the landfill gas is located within the certificated service territory of a natural gas public utility or within an area in which a municipal corporation provides gas distribution service and the landfill gas is to be used in facilities constructed after January 1, 2000, such company shall submit to such public utility or municipal corporation a written offer for sale of that gas prior to offering the gas for sale or delivery to a commercial or industrial purchaser. If the public utility or municipal corporation does not agree within 60 days following the date of the offer to purchase such landfill gas on mutually satisfactory terms, then the company shall be authorized to sell such landfill gas, electricity, or both, to the commercial or industrial purchaser, utility, municipal corporation, or county. Such public utility may file for Commission approval a proposed tariff to reflect any anticipated or known changes in service to the purchaser as a result of the purchaser's use of the landfill gas. No such tariff shall impose on such purchaser of the landfill gas terms less favorable than those imposed on similarly situated customers with alternative fuel capabilities; provided, however, that such tariff may impose such requirements as are reasonably calculated to recover any cost of such service and to protect and ensure the safety and integrity of the public utility's facilities.
(9) A company that is not organized as a public service company pursuant to subsection D of § 13.1-620 and that sells and delivers propane air only to one or more public utilities. Any company excluded by this subdivision from the definition of "public utility" for the purposes of this chapter nevertheless shall be subject to the Commission's jurisdiction relating to gas pipeline safety and enforcement.
(10) A farm or aggregation of farms that owns and operates facilities within the Commonwealth for the generation of electric energy from waste-to-energy technology. As used in this subdivision, (i) "farm" means any person that obtains at least 51 percent of its annual gross income from agricultural operations and produces the agricultural waste used as feedstock for the waste-to-energy technology, (ii) "agricultural waste" means biomass waste materials capable of decomposition that are produced from the raising of plants and animals during agricultural operations, including animal manures, bedding, plant stalks, hulls, and vegetable matter, and (iii) "waste-to-energy technology" means any technology, including but not limited to a methane digester, that converts agricultural waste into gas, steam, or heat that is used to generate electricity on-site.
(11) A company, other than an entity organized as a public service company, that provides non-utility gas service as provided in § 56-265.4:6.
(c) "Commission" means the State Corporation Commission.
(d) "Geothermal resources" means those resources as defined in § 45.1-179.2.
1950, p. 599; 1954, c. 354; 1970, c. 265; 1981, c. 506; 1988, c. 440; 1990, c. 488; 1991, c. 263; 1992, c. 476; 1994, cc. 652, 852; 1995, c. 643; 1997, cc. 105, 148; 1999, c. 768; 2000, cc. 528, 543; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2004, cc. 748, 1028; 2005, c. 22; 2006, c. 411; 2007, c. 813; 2009, cc. 746, 794.§ 56-265.2. Certificate of convenience and necessity required for acquisition, etc., of new facilities.
A. 1. Subject to the provisions of subdivision 2, it shall be unlawful for any public utility to construct, enlarge or acquire, by lease or otherwise, any facilities for use in public utility service, except ordinary extensions or improvements in the usual course of business, without first having obtained a certificate from the Commission that the public convenience and necessity require the exercise of such right or privilege. Any certificate required by this section shall be issued by the Commission only after opportunity for a hearing and after due notice to interested parties. The certificate for overhead electrical transmission lines of 138 kilovolts or more shall be issued by the Commission only after compliance with the provisions of § 56-46.1.
2. For construction of any transmission line of 138 kilovolts, a public utility shall either (i) obtain a certificate pursuant to subdivision 1 or (ii) obtain approval pursuant to the requirements of (a) § 15.2-2232 and (b) any applicable local zoning ordinances by the locality or localities in which the transmission line will be located.
B. In exercising its authority under this section, the Commission, notwithstanding the provisions of § 56-265.4, may permit the construction and operation of electrical generating facilities, which shall not be included in the rate base of any regulated utility whose rates are established pursuant to Chapter 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), upon a finding that such generating facility and associated facilities including transmission lines and equipment (i) will have no material adverse effect upon the rates paid by customers of any regulated public utility in the Commonwealth; (ii) will have no material adverse effect upon reliability of electric service provided by any such regulated public utility; and (iii) are not otherwise contrary to the public interest. In review of its petition for a certificate to construct and operate a generating facility described in this subsection, the Commission shall give consideration to the effect of the facility and associated facilities, including transmission lines and equipment, on the environment and establish such conditions as may be desirable or necessary to minimize adverse environmental impact as provided in § 56-46.1. Facilities authorized by a certificate issued pursuant to this subsection may be exempted by the Commission from the provisions of Chapter 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.).
C. A map showing the location of any proposed ordinary extension or improvement outside of the territory in which the public utility is lawfully authorized to operate shall be filed with the Commission, and prior notice of such ordinary extension shall be given to the public utility or other entity authorized to provide the same utility service within said territory. Ordinary extensions outside the service territory of a public utility shall be undertaken only for use in providing its public utility service and shall be constructed and operated so as not to interfere with the service or facilities of any public utility or other entity authorized to provide utility service within any other territory. If, upon objection of the affected utility or entity filed within 30 days of the aforesaid notice and after investigation and opportunity for a hearing the Commission finds an ordinary extension would not comply with this section, it may alter or amend the plan for such activity or prohibit its construction.
D. Whenever a certificate is required under this section for a pipeline for the transmission or distribution of natural or manufactured gas, the Commission may issue such a certificate only after compliance with the provisions of § 56-265.2:1. As used in this section and § 56-265.2:1, "pipeline for the transmission or distribution of manufactured or natural gas" shall include the pipeline and any related facilities incidental or necessary to the operation of the pipeline.
E. This section shall be subject to the requirements of § 56-265.3, if any, and nothing herein shall be construed to supersede § 56-265.3.
1950, p. 599; 1985, c. 282; 1995, cc. 311, 514; 1998, c. 92; 2012, cc. 54, 284.§ 56-265.2:1. Approval by Commission required for construction of certain gas pipelines and related facilities; notice and hearing.
A. Whenever a certificate is required pursuant to § 56-265.2 for the construction of a pipeline for the transmission or distribution of manufactured or natural gas, the Commission shall consider the effect of the pipeline on the environment, public safety, and economic development in the Commonwealth, and may establish such reasonably practical conditions as may be necessary to minimize any adverse environmental or public safety impact. In such proceedings, the Commission shall receive and consider all reports by state agencies concerned with environmental protection; and, if requested by any county or municipality in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed, local comprehensive plans that have been adopted pursuant to Article 3 (§ 15.2-2223 et seq.) of Chapter 22 of Title 15.2.
B. The Commission shall not approve construction of any such pipeline unless the public utility has provided 30 days' advance public notice of the proposed pipeline by (i) publishing a notice in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation in each of the counties and municipalities through which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed, (ii) providing written notice to the governing body of each such county and municipality, (iii) causing to be sent a copy of the notice by first class mail to all owners of property within the route of the proposed pipeline, as indicated on the map or sketch of the route filed with the Commission, which requirement shall be satisfied by mailing the notice to such persons at such addresses as are indicated in the land books maintained by the commissioner of revenue, director of finance or treasurer of the county or municipality, and (iv) filing a copy of any plans, specifications, or maps of the proposed pipeline with the Commission, which plans, specifications, or maps shall be made available for public inspection at the Commission's business office, during normal business hours. Any notice required by this subsection shall include a written description of the proposed route the line is to follow, a map or sketch of the route, and information regarding the time period during which persons may request a public hearing under subsection C of this section.
C. If, within 45 days after publication and mailing of the notices required in subsection B of this section, any interested party requests a public hearing, the Commission shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after such request, hold such hearing or hearings at such place as may be designated by the Commission. If written requests therefor are received from 20 or more interested parties, the Commission shall hold at least one hearing in the area that would be affected by construction of the pipeline, for the purpose of receiving public comment on the proposal. If any hearing is to be held in the area affected, the Commission shall direct that a copy of the transcripts of any previous hearings held in the case be made available for public inspection at a convenient location in the area for a reasonable time before such local hearing.
D. For the purposes of this section, "interested parties" means the governing bodies of any counties or municipalities through which the pipeline is to be constructed, and persons residing or owning property within one-half mile of such pipeline. For the purposes of this section, "environment" or "environmental" shall be deemed to include in meaning "historic."
E. If a significantly different route is determined more desirable after the giving of the notice required in subsection B of this section, the Commission shall cause notice of the new route or routes to be published and mailed in accordance with subsection B of this section. The Commission shall thereafter comply with the provisions of this section to the full extent necessary to give interested parties in the newly affected areas the same protection afforded interested parties affected by the route described in the original notice.
F. Approval of a pipeline pursuant to this section shall be deemed to satisfy and supersede the requirements of § 15.2-2232 and local zoning ordinances with respect to such pipeline and related facilities; however, the Commission shall not approve the construction of a natural gas compressor station in an area zoned exclusively for residential use unless the public utility provides certification from the local governing body that the natural gas compressor station is consistent with the zoning ordinance. The certification required by this subsection shall be deemed to have been waived unless the local governing body informs the Commission and the public utility of the natural gas compressor station's compliance or noncompliance within 45 days of the public utility's written request.
1995, c. 311; 2001, c. 758; 2014, cc. 467, 507.§ 56-265.3. Certificate to furnish public utility service; allotment of territory transfers, leases or amendments.
A. No public utility shall begin to furnish public utility service within the Commonwealth without first having obtained from the Commission a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing it to furnish such service. Any company engaged in furnishing a public utility service in this Commonwealth as of July 1, 1950, shall, upon filing maps with the Commission within ninety days from such date, showing the territory now being served by it, be entitled to receive a certificate of convenience and necessity authorizing it to begin to furnish such public utility service in such territory. Also, any company that is granted authority under the Public Utilities Securities Act, Chapter 3 (§ 56-55 et seq.) of this title to issue securities for the purpose of constructing or extending facilities described in the application for such authority, shall, if the application was filed with the State Corporation Commission before February 1, 1950, have the same right to a certificate of convenience and necessity that it would have had if the facilities had been in operation and serving the public on February 1, 1950. Any company which was engaged in furnishing a public utility service in this Commonwealth as of July 1, 1950, and which is now so engaged in providing the same kind of service, and which could have filed maps with the Commission in accordance with the requirements of this section but failed to do so, may file such maps not later than January 1, 1974, showing the territory now being served by it, and be entitled to receive a certificate of convenience and necessity authorizing it to continue to furnish the same kind of public utility service in such areas to the same extent as if it had filed maps as of July 1, 1950.
B. On initial application by any company, the Commission, after formal or informal hearing upon such notice to the public as the Commission may prescribe, may, by issuance of a certificate of convenience and necessity, allot territory for development of public utility service by the applicant if the Commission finds such action in the public interest.
C. If the initial application provides for the furnishing of water or sewerage service within any political subdivision in which there has been created an authority for either or both of such purposes pursuant to Chapter 51 (§ 15.2-5100 et seq.) of Title 15.2, the Commission shall not hold any hearing on such application or issue any certificate for the allotment of territory unless the application shall first have been approved by the governing body of the political subdivision in which the territory is located. In any area where a water company was in existence and furnishing water prior to the formation of an authority to provide water, the Commission may hold a hearing on an application and issue a certificate to the water company for that territory which was served prior to the creation of the authority whether or not the governing body of the political subdivision has approved the application. In any area where a sewer company was in existence and furnishing sewer services prior to the formation of an authority to provide sewer services, the Commission may hold a hearing on an application and issue a certificate to the sewer company for that territory which was served prior to the creation of the authority whether or not the governing body of the political subdivision has approved the application.
D. If the Commission finds it to be in the public interest, upon the application of a holder of a water or sewer certificate, such certificate may be transferred, leased or amended after such reasonable notice to the public and opportunity to be heard as the Commission by order may prescribe. The Commission may authorize the transfer, lease, or amendment of the certificate subject to such restrictions as the Commission finds will promote the public interest.
E. The Commission is authorized to promulgate any rules necessary to implement this section.
1950, c. 599; 1968, c. 720; 1973, c. 397; 1986, c. 521; 1988, c. 233.§ 56-265.3:1. Certificates to furnish water and sewer service.
A. Any company proposing to construct facilities after January 1, 1995, ultimately intended to make water or sewer service available to more than fifty residential building lots shall, prior to construction or financial commitments therefor, organize a public service corporation and seek certificates of public convenience and necessity pursuant to §§ 56-265.2 and 56-265.3. The application for such certificates shall include (i) a comprehensive business plan detailing the technical, managerial and financial resources to be devoted to operation of the water or sewer service; (ii) except in the case of a company seeking a certificate to operate a sewer service only, proof of receipt of, or application for, a permit for the facilities pursuant to Virginia Department of Health requirements under Article 2 (§ 32.1-167 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 32.1; and (iii) such other information as is now or hereafter deemed appropriate by the Commission, including proof of the issuance of a bond or the deposit of funds in escrow as may be required by the Department of Health pursuant to § 32.1-174.1.
B. Certificates of public convenience and necessity shall not be granted by the Commission unless, in addition to the findings required by §§ 56-265.2 and 56-265.3, it also finds that the comprehensive business plan presented in the application reasonably assures that system performance requirements for providing water supply can be met over the long term and at reasonable costs. The Commission may issue such certification with any conditions or restrictions as public interest may require.
C. Water or sewer companies existing on or before January 1, 1995 which extend their service at any time following the effective date of this section shall not be required to comply with the requirements thereof.
D. If any applicant under this section so requests, the Commission shall not disclose the contents of the comprehensive business plan except as necessary to perform its duties.
1994, c. 852.§ 56-265.4. Certificate to operate in territory of another certificate holder.
Except as provided in § 56-265.4:4, no certificate shall be granted to an applicant proposing to operate in the territory of any holder of a certificate unless and until it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the Commission that the service rendered by such certificate holder in such territory is inadequate to the requirements of the public necessity and convenience; and if the Commission shall be of opinion that the service rendered by such certificate holder in such territory is in any respect inadequate to the requirements of the public necessity and convenience, such certificate holder shall be given reasonable time and opportunity to remedy such inadequacy before any certificate shall be granted to an applicant proposing to operate in such territory. For the purposes of this section, the transportation of natural gas by pipeline, without providing service to end users within the territory, shall not be considered operating in the territory of another certificate holder.
1950, p. 600; 1984, c. 382; 2014, cc. 467, 507.§ 56-265.4:1. Furnishing of electric public utility service or provision of facilities therefor by municipal corporations and other governmental bodies.
If any municipal corporation or other governmental body, having legal authority by charter or other law, shall desire to supply electric public utility service, or construct, enlarge or acquire, by lease or otherwise, any electric utility facilities, outside its political boundaries, it shall have power to enter into agreements in that regard with affected public utilities which shall be binding in accordance with their terms and for the period therein provided; but no contract entered into under this section shall limit the power of the Commission to fix rates and to otherwise regulate a public utility. No such service by a municipal corporation or other governmental body shall be provided, or facilities constructed, enlarged or acquired, in territory allotted to any public utility by the Commission except in territory served by such municipal corporation or other governmental body on June 26, 1964, unless the affected public utility shall consent by such an agreement or the Commission shall grant a certificate therefor upon application by the municipal corporation or other governmental body pursuant to § 56-265.4, authority for which certification is hereby granted. Provided, however, this limitation on the extension of public utility service by any municipal corporation or governmental body outside its political boundaries shall not be applicable to cities or towns extending their service in accordance with the provisions of § 56-265.4:2. No public utility shall extend its electric public utility service, or construct, enlarge or acquire, by lease or otherwise, any electric utility facilities, in territory served exclusively by a municipal corporation or other governmental body on June 26, 1964, unless such municipal corporation or other governmental body shall consent by such an agreement. In case of question as to the scope of the territory served by a municipal corporation or other governmental body on June 26, 1964, the Commission may, and on application by either such public utility or such municipal corporation or other governmental body shall, decide such question and allot such territory accordingly, between such public utility and such municipal corporation or other governmental body, in which event any expansion of service outside the territory so allotted shall be subject to the applicable provisions of this chapter, provided, however, that nothing contained herein shall prevent any municipal corporation from constructing or maintaining facilities in county areas for the purpose of generating or purchasing electricity to be transmitted into the service area of such municipal corporation.
1964, c. 228; 1978, c. 325.§ 56-265.4:2. Extension of service by cities and towns into annexed areas.
A. Any city or town in the Commonwealth which provides electric utility service for the use of its residents may, at any time following annexation of additional territory to such city or town, acquire the distribution system facilities of the electric utility serving the annexed area in the manner provided by Title 25.1. As used in this section (i) the term "distribution system facilities" shall be deemed to include all facilities necessary to distribute electric utility service to any annexed area but shall not include substations of the public utility whose facilities are being acquired, and (ii) the terms "city" and "town" shall not include a shire, a borough or any other subdivision of a city or town. This section shall not apply to the addition of territory to a city or town by consolidation, merger, or through any other procedure that results in an effective combination with another governmental entity.
B. Upon completion of the eminent domain proceedings or upon the negotiation of a settlement between the city or town and the electric utility, the State Corporation Commission shall amend the certificate of convenience and necessity of the public utility whose distribution system facilities have been acquired to reflect the change in its territory.
1978, c. 325; 1987, c. 337; 1995, c. 36.§ 56-265.4:3. Repealed.
Repealed by Acts 2011, cc. 738 and 740, cl. 2.§ 56-265.4:4. Certificate to operate as a telephone utility.
A. The Commission may grant certificates to competing telephone companies, or any county, city or town that operates an electric distribution system, for interexchange service where it finds that such action is justified by public interest, and is in accordance with such terms, conditions, limitations, and restrictions as may be prescribed by the Commission for competitive telecommunications services. A certificate to provide interexchange services shall not authorize the holder to provide local exchange services. The Commission may grant a certificate to a carrier, or any county, city or town that operates an electric distribution system, to furnish local exchange services as provided in subsection B.
B. 1. After notice to all local exchange carriers certificated in the Commonwealth and other interested parties and following an opportunity for hearing, the Commission may grant certificates to any telephone company, or any county, city or town that operates an electric distribution system, proposing to furnish local exchange telephone service in the Commonwealth. In determining whether to grant a certificate under this subsection, the Commission may require that the applicant show that it possesses sufficient technical, financial, and managerial resources. Before granting any such certificate, the Commission shall: (i) consider whether such action reasonably protects the affordability of basic local exchange telephone service, as such service is defined by the Commission, and reasonably assures the continuation of quality local exchange telephone service; and (ii) find that such action will not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any class of telephone company customers or telephone service providers, including the new entrant and any incumbent local exchange telephone company, and is in the public interest. Except as provided in subsection A of § 15.2-2160, all local exchange certificates granted by the Commission after July 1, 2002, shall be to provide service in any territory in the Commonwealth unless the applicant specifically requests a different certificated service territory. The Commission shall amend the certificated service territory of each local exchange carrier that was previously certificated to provide service in only part of the Commonwealth to permit such carrier's provision of local exchange service throughout the Commonwealth beginning on September 1, 2002, unless that local exchange carrier notifies the Commission prior to September 1, 2002, that it elects to retain its existing certificated service territory. A local exchange carrier shall only be considered an incumbent in any certificated service territory in which it was considered an incumbent prior to July 1, 2002, except that the Commission may make changes to a local exchange carrier's incumbent certificated service territory at the request of those incumbent local exchange carriers that are directly involved in a proposed change in the certificated service territory.
2. A Commission order, including appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law, denying or approving, with or without modification, an application for certification of a new entrant shall be entered no more than 180 days from the filing of the application, except that the Commission, upon notice to all parties in interest, may extend that period in additional 30-day increments not to exceed an additional 90 days in all.
3. The Commission shall (i) promote and seek to assure the provision of competitive services to all classes of customers throughout all geographic areas of the Commonwealth by a variety of service providers; (ii) require equity in the treatment of the certificated local exchange telephone companies so as to encourage competition based on service, quality, and price differences between alternative providers; (iii) consider the impact on competition of any government-imposed restrictions limiting the markets to be served or the services offered by any provider; (iv) determine the form of rate regulation, if any, for the local exchange services to be provided by the applicant and, upon application, the form of rate regulation for the comparable services of the incumbent local exchange telephone company provided in the geographical area to be served by the applicant; and (v) promulgate standards to assure that there is no cross-subsidization of the applicant's competitive local exchange telephone services by any other of its services over which it has a monopoly, whether or not those services are telephone services. The Commission shall also adopt safeguards to ensure that the prices charged and the revenue received by a county, city or town for providing telecommunications services shall not be cross-subsidized from other revenues of the county, city or town or affiliated entities, except (i) in areas where no offers exist from for-profit providers of such telecommunications services, or (ii) as authorized pursuant to subdivision 5.
4. The Commission shall discharge the responsibilities of state commissions as set forth in the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104) (the Act) and applicable law and regulations, including, but not limited to, the arbitration of interconnection agreements between local exchange carriers; however, the Commission may exercise its discretion to defer selected issues under the Act. If the Commission incurs additional costs in arbitrating such agreements or resolving related legal actions or disputes that cannot be recovered through the maximum levy authorized pursuant to § 58.1-2660, that levy shall be increased above the levy authorized by that section to the extent necessary to recover such additional costs.
5. Upon the Commission's granting of a certificate to a county, city or town under this section, such county, city, or town (i) shall be subject to regulation by the Commission for intrastate telecommunications services, (ii) shall have the same duties and obligations as other certificated providers of telecommunications services, (iii) shall separately account for the revenues, expenses, property, and source of investment dollars associated with the provision of such services, and (iv) to ensure that there is no unreasonable advantage gained from a government agency's taxing authority and control of government-owned land, shall charge an amount for such services that (a) does not include any subsidies, unless approved by the Commission, and (b) takes into account, by imputation or allocation, equivalent charges for all taxes, pole rentals, rights of way, licenses, and similar costs incurred by for-profit providers. Each certificated county, city, or town that provides telecommunications services regulated by the Commission shall file an annual report with the Commission demonstrating that the requirements of clauses (iii) and (iv) have been met. The Commission may approve a subsidy under this section if deemed to be in the public interest and provided that such subsidy does not result in a price for the service lower than the price for the same service charged by the incumbent provider in the area.
6. A locality that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section shall (i) comply with all applicable laws and regulations for the provision of telecommunications services; (ii) make a reasonable estimate of the amount of all federal, state, and local taxes (including income taxes and consumer utility taxes) that would be required to be paid or collected for each fiscal year if the locality were a for-profit provider of telecommunications services, (iii) prepare reasonable estimates of the amount of any franchise fees and other state and local fees (including permit fees and pole rental fees), and right-of-way charges that would be incurred in each fiscal year if the locality were a for-profit provider of telecommunications services, (iv) prepare and publish annually financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles showing the results of operations of its provision of telecommunications services, and (v) maintain records demonstrating compliance with the provisions of this section that shall be made available for inspection and copying pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).
7. Each locality that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section shall provide nondiscriminatory access to for-profit providers of telecommunications services on a first-come, first-served basis to rights-of-way, poles, conduits or other permanent distribution facilities owned, leased or operated by the locality unless the facilities have insufficient capacity for such access and additional capacity cannot reasonably be added to the facilities.
8. The prices charged and the revenue received by a locality for providing telecommunications services shall not be cross-subsidized by other revenues of the locality or affiliated entities, except (i) in areas where no offers exist from for-profit providers of such telecommunications services, or (ii) as permitted by the provisions of subdivision 5. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to Internet access, broadband, information, and data transmission services provided by any locality providing telecommunications services on March 1, 2002, except for an authority created pursuant to the BVU Authority Act (§ 15.2-7200 et seq.).
9. The Commission shall promulgate rules necessary to implement this section. In no event, however, shall the rules necessary to implement clauses (iii) and (iv) of subdivision 5, clauses (ii) through (v) of subdivision 6, and subdivision 8 impose any obligations on a locality that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section, but is not yet providing telecommunications services regulated by the Commission.
10. Public records of a locality that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section, which records contain confidential proprietary information or trade secrets pertaining to the provision of telecommunications service, shall be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.). As used in this subdivision, a public record contains confidential proprietary information or trade secrets if its acquisition by a competing provider of telecommunications services would provide the competing provider with a competitive benefit. However, the exemption provided by this subdivision shall not apply to any authority created pursuant to the BVU Authority Act (§ 15.2-7200 et seq.).
C. Article 5.1 (§ 56-484.7:1 et seq.) of Chapter 15 shall not apply to a county, city, or town that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section.
D. Any county, city, or town that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section may construct, own, maintain, and operate a fiber optic or communications infrastructure to provide consumers with Internet services, data transmission services, and any other communications service that its infrastructure is capable of delivering; provided, however, nothing in this subsection shall authorize the provision of cable television services or other multi-channel video programming service. Furthermore, nothing in this subsection shall alter the authority of the Commission.
E. Any county, city, or town that has obtained a certificate pursuant to this section and that had installed a cable television headend prior to December 31, 2002, is authorized to own and operate a cable television system or other multi-channel video programming service and shall be exempt from the provisions of §§ 15.2-2108.4 through 15.2-2108.8. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the Commission to regulate cable television service.
1984, c. 382; 1995, cc. 22, 35, 187; 2001, c. 75; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2003, cc. 677, 711, 720; 2005, c. 258; 2006, cc. 73, 76; 2009, c. 330; 2016, cc. 724, 725.§ 56-265.4:5. Furnishing gas service to commercial and industrial customers in an area not certificated for public utility gas service.
A. Any company desiring to make an exempt sale, transmission or service under subdivision (b) (4) of § 56-265.1 shall notify the Commission of its plans for furnishing such gas service. The Commission shall make a determination of whether the customers' facilities are located within a territory for which a certificate has been granted, or, as of the time of the Commission's receipt of the notice provided hereunder, within any area, territory, or jurisdiction served by a municipal corporation that provided gas distribution service as of January 1, 1992, and shall prohibit the furnishing of gas service to any facility so located. The Commission shall provide notice of such plans to furnish gas service to all public utilities providing gas service in the Commonwealth. Within sixty days of such notice, any public utility so notified may make application to the Commission to provide such service. If an application is filed, the Commission shall determine, after a public hearing, which company shall furnish the gas service.
B. In the event a gas utility is issued a certificate to serve the area where customers to whom service is being provided pursuant to this section are located, the gas utility shall have the right, subject to existing contracts regarding gas service to such customers and to the gas utility's effective transportation tariff, to acquire any facilities installed to serve such customers, at a price to be mutually agreed upon, or if not so agreed, at a price to be determined by the Commission.
1990, c. 488; 1992, c. 476 .§ 56-265.4:6. Furnishing non-utility gas service.
A. In this section the following terms shall have the following meanings:
"Affiliated interest" shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 56-76 and shall be applied in this statute to non-utility gas service providers.
"Commercial customer" means any person that purchases non-utility gas service for its own consumption at one or more metering points or nonmetered points of delivery located in the Commonwealth and who if served by a natural gas utility would be classified as a nonresidential customer under the applicable natural gas utility's tariff.
"Municipally-owned gas service" means the sale and distribution of natural gas by a municipal corporation that has the authority to provide natural gas distribution service through the provisions of its charter.
"Natural gas line" means a distribution or transmission pipeline owned and operated by the natural gas utility and subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission but excluding such lines that serve only a single residence or retail establishment.
"Natural gas utility" or "utility" means an investor-owned public service company engaged in the business of furnishing natural gas service to the public and which is regulated as to rates and service pursuant to this title.
"Non-utility gas service" means the sale and distribution of propane, propane-air mixtures, or other natural or manufactured gas to two or more customers by way of underground or aboveground distribution lines by a person other than a natural gas utility or an affiliated interest of a natural gas utility, master meter operator, or any person operating in compliance with § 56-1.2.
"Non-utility gas service provider" means a person, other than a natural gas utility, providing non-utility gas service.
"Person" means any individual, corporation, partnership, association, company, business trust, joint venture or other private legal entity.
"Pipeline safety standards" means all gas pipeline safety requirements established pursuant to § 56-257.2.
"Residential customer" means any person that purchases non-utility gas service for its own consumption at one or more metering points or nonmetered points of delivery located in the Commonwealth and who if served by a natural gas utility would be classified as a residential customer under the applicable natural gas utility's tariff.
B. A person, individually or together with its affiliated interests, other than the natural gas utility that holds the certificate to provide natural gas service in a particular territory or one of its affiliated interests, shall apply to the Commission for and obtain approval prior to providing non-utility gas service to:
1. Two or more residential or commercial customers located one-half mile or less from any existing underground natural gas line operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission;
2. More than 10 residential or two commercial customers located more than one-half mile but within one mile or less from any existing underground natural gas line operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission;
3. More than 20 residential or five commercial customers located more than one mile but within three miles or less from any existing underground natural gas line operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission; or
4. More than 50 residential or 10 commercial customers located more than three miles but no more than five miles from an existing underground natural gas line operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission.
Approval of any application to provide non-utility gas service pursuant to this section shall be granted by the Commission only after opportunity for a hearing and after due notice to the natural gas utility that holds the certificate to provide service in the defined geographic area proposed to be served. The Commission shall approve an application to provide non-utility gas service upon finding that: (i) the natural gas utility that holds the certificate to provide natural gas service in the defined geographic area proposed to be served is not currently offering service to the area desired for non-utility gas service and is unable to extend natural gas utility service to the requested area within a reasonable period of time; and (ii) the provision of non-utility gas service in the defined geographic area proposed to be served, and to the estimated number of customers defined in the application, is in the public interest.
Any order approving an application to provide non-utility gas service pursuant to this section shall define the geographic area to be covered and the maximum number of customers to whom the non-utility gas service provider can provide service before having to apply to the Commission for a revised order. The order approving an application to provide non-utility gas service shall also provide for compliance with all pipeline safety standards; however, nothing in the order shall authorize the Commission to exercise jurisdiction over the rates, charges, or services being offered in conjunction with non-utility gas service by a non-utility gas service provider. Further, except as provided in this section, approval of an application to provide non-utility gas service shall not infringe upon or diminish the rights of the natural gas utility that holds the certificate to provide natural gas service in the specified area.
Any fully constructed and operational non-utility gas service system as of April 8, 2009, shall be exempt from the requirements of this subsection.
C. A non-utility gas service provider shall comply with the provisions of subsection B if any proposed new customers (i) are located in or are adjacent to a residential subdivision, commercial or mixed-use development, currently being provided non-utility gas service by that non-utility gas service provider and (ii) the number of such new customers, when added to the number of then existing customers of such non-utility gas service provider, individually or together with its affiliated interests, located in the adjacent residential subdivision, commercial or mixed-use development, would exceed the threshold number of customers for any of the geographical areas described in subsection B.
D. In any instance in which customers proposed to be served by a non-utility gas service provider, individually or together with its affiliated interests, are in the same residential subdivision, commercial or mixed-use development, or any phase thereof, and that residential subdivision, commercial or mixed use development, including all parts and phases thereof, straddles any of the distance thresholds set forth in subsection B, then all of the customers in all parts and phases of such residential subdivision, commercial or mixed-use development shall be deemed to be within the distance from the underground natural gas line operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission applicable to the customer located in such residential subdivision, commercial or mixed-use development that is located closest to such underground natural gas line operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission.
E. The distance threshold set forth in subsection B shall be measured in a linear manner and shall be based upon the underground natural gas lines operated by a utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission that are in existence at the time the non-utility gas service provider applies for Commission approval pursuant to subsection B, if applicable, or at the time the non-utility gas service provider applies for the initial local government approval necessary to construct its distribution lines required to serve the proposed new customers, whichever is earlier.
F. All non-utility gas service providers shall provide notice to the Commission of any and all non-utility gas service that is subject to pipeline safety standards and is being provided to two or more customers in the Commonwealth and shall provide notice of the construction of new non-utility gas service to the Commission no later than 30 days prior to commencing construction of such system. Any non-utility gas service provider that is required to provide such notice shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the pipeline safety standards and subject to any penalties that may be applicable under § 56-257.2. Upon request of the Commission, the non-utility gas service provider shall provide, within 30 days of such request, documentation to show compliance with the requirements of the pipeline safety standards.
G. Any municipal corporation that provides municipally-owned gas service to residential or commercial customers located within an area where a natural gas utility holds a certificate to provide service, must have written authorization from that certificate holder to provide such service which authorization shall not be unreasonably withheld. The written authorization shall define the geographic area to be served by the municipally-owned gas service provider. If authorization is withheld, the natural gas utility shall provide a written justification for the decision to the municipally-owned gas service provider. Any decision to withhold authorization shall be subject to review by the Commission upon petition by a customer seeking natural gas service. Any natural gas utility that provides written permission to a municipal corporation to provide municipally-owned gas service within a territory where it holds a certificate shall provide a written copy of the authorization to the Commission.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, a municipally-owned gas service provider shall not be required to obtain consent to i) provide natural gas service to facilities or property owned in whole or in part by the municipal corporation, or ii) install lines that serve only a single residential customer.
A municipally-owned gas service provider which fails to comply with this subsection shall be subject to relief in a court having competent jurisdiction. Nothing herein shall authorize the Commission to impose penalties or fines on any municipal corporation.
Any fully constructed and operational municipally-owned gas service system in place as of April 8, 2009, shall be exempt from the requirements of this subsection.
H. The Commission is authorized to promulgate any rules consistent with and necessary to implement this section other than subsection G.
I. The provision of non-utility gas service without complying with subsection B shall be punishable by a penalty of up to $500 per day to be imposed and collected by the Commission, in addition to any injunctive or other non-monetary penalties provided by law.
2009, c. 794.§ 56-265.5. Effective date of certificates.
Certificates issued under the provisions of this chapter shall be effective from the date of issuance unless a different date be specified therein and shall remain in effect until terminated as herein provided.
1950, p. 600.§ 56-265.6. Penalties for misrepresentations, violations of law, regulations or terms of certificates.
The Commission may, by its order duly entered after hearing, held after due notice to the holder of any such certificate and an opportunity to such holder to be heard, at which hearing it shall be proved that such holder has willfully made a misrepresentation of a material fact in obtaining such certificate or has willfully violated or refused to observe the laws of this State touching such certificate or any of the terms of the certificate, or any of the Commission's proper orders, rules or regulations, impose a penalty not exceeding $1,000, which may be collected by the process of the Commission as provided by law; or the Commission may suspend, revoke, alter or amend any such certificate for any of the causes set forth above. But no such certificate shall be revoked, altered or amended (except upon application of the holder thereof) unless the holder thereof shall wilfully fail to comply, within a reasonable time to be fixed by the Commission, with the lawful order of the Commission or with the lawful rule or regulation of the Commission, or with the term, condition or limitation of such certificate, found by the Commission to have been violated by such holder. No such certificate shall be suspended, revoked, altered or amended for any cause not stated in this section.
Proceedings looking to the imposition of any penalty provided for in this section may be commenced upon the complaint of any person or upon the Commission's own initiative.
1950, p. 600.§ 56-265.7. Appeal from order of revocations, etc.
From any order of the Commission suspending, revoking, altering or amending any certificate, the holder thereof shall have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, as a matter of right, as in other cases of appeals from the Commission.
1950, p. 601.§ 56-265.8. Proceedings before Commission on or before July 1, 1950.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to or in any way affect any proceeding before the State Corporation Commission on or before July 1, 1950, and shall not confer on said Commission any jurisdiction not now vested in it with respect to any such proceeding.
1950, p. 601.§ 56-265.8:1. Inspection and approval of certain installations not regulated pursuant to this chapter.
The owner or operator of any facility for the generation of electrical energy not subject to regulation under the Utilities Facilities Act but designed to generate electrical energy for the use by persons other than the owner or operator shall at his expense have the facility designed and inspected by a professional engineer licensed to work in the State of Virginia. Said engineer shall certify that the installation meets the standards of the National Electrical Code and the National Safety Code and that there is adequate equipment for standby purposes. The provisions of this section shall apply only to generation facilities used as a primary source of power and not to emergency supply systems. The provisions hereof shall not apply to municipally owned and operated facilities.
1970, c. 363.§ 56-265.9. Title of chapter.
This chapter may be cited as the Utility Facilities Act.
1950, p. 601.