Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
11/15/2019

Article 1. In General.

§ 56-1. Definitions.

Whenever used in this title, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Broadband connection," for purposes of this section, means a connection where transmission speeds exceed 200 kilobits per second in at least one direction.

"Commission" means the State Corporation Commission.

"Corporation" or "company" includes all corporations created by acts of the General Assembly of Virginia, or under the general incorporation laws of this Commonwealth, or doing business therein, and shall exclude all municipal corporations, other political subdivisions, and public institutions owned or controlled by the Commonwealth.

"Electric vehicle charging service" means the replenishment of the battery of a plug-in electric motor vehicle, which replenishment occurs by plugging the motor vehicle into an electric power source in order to charge or recharge its battery.

"Interexchange telephone service" means telephone service between points in two or more exchanges that is not classified as local exchange telephone service. "Interexchange telephone service" shall not include Voice-over-Internet protocol service for purposes of regulation by the Commission, including the imposition of certification processing fees and other administrative requirements, and the filing or approval of tariffs. Nothing herein shall be construed to either mandate or prohibit the payment of switched network access rates or other intercarrier compensation, if any, related to Voice-over-Internet protocol service.

"Local exchange telephone service" means telephone service provided in a geographical area established for the administration of communication services and consists of one or more central offices together with associated facilities which are used in providing local exchange service. Local exchange service, as opposed to interexchange service, consists of telecommunications between points within an exchange or between exchanges which are within an area where customers may call at specified rates and charges. "Local exchange telephone service" shall not include Voice-over-Internet protocol service for purposes of regulation by the Commission, including the imposition of certification processing fees and other administrative requirements, and the filing or approval of tariffs. Nothing herein shall be construed to either mandate or prohibit the payment of switched network access rates or other intercarrier compensation, if any, related to Voice-over-Internet protocol service.

"Mail" includes electronic mail and other forms of electronic communication when the customer has requested or authorized electronic bill delivery or other electronic communications.

"Municipality" or "municipal corporation" shall include an authority created by a governmental unit exempt from the referendum requirement of § 15.2-5403.

"Person" includes individuals, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations.

"Plug-in electric motor vehicle" means an on-road motor vehicle that draws propulsion using a traction battery that has at least four kilowatt hours of capacity, uses an external source of electric energy to charge or recharge the battery, has a gross vehicle weight of not more than 14,000 pounds, and meets any applicable emissions standards.

"Public service corporation" or "public service company" includes gas, pipeline, electric light, heat, power and water supply companies, sewer companies, telephone companies, and all persons authorized to transport passengers or property as a common carrier. "Public service corporation" or "public service company" shall not include (i) a municipal corporation, other political subdivision or public institution owned or controlled by the Commonwealth; however, if such an entity has obtained a certificate to provide services pursuant to § 56-265.4:4, then such entity shall be deemed to be a public service corporation or public service company and subject to the authority of the Commission with respect only to its provision of the services it is authorized to provide pursuant to such certificate; or (ii) any company described in subdivision (b)(10) of § 56-265.1.

"Railroad" includes all railroad or railway lines, whether operated by steam, electricity, or other motive power, except when otherwise specifically designated.

"Railroad company" includes any company, trustee or other person owning, leasing or operating a railroad.

"Rate" means rate charged for any service rendered or to be rendered.

"Rate," "charge" and "regulation" include joint rates, joint charges and joint regulations, respectively.

"Regulated operating revenue" includes only revenue from services not found to be competitive.

"Transportation company" includes any railroad company, any company transporting express by railroad, and any ship or boat company.

"Virginia limited liability company" has the same meaning ascribed to "limited liability company" in § 13.1-1002. A foreign limited liability company, as that term is defined in § 13.1-1002, may become a Virginia limited liability company, even though also being a limited liability company organized under laws other than the laws of the Commonwealth, by filing articles of organization that meet the requirements of §§ 13.1-1003 and 13.1-1011 and include (i) the name of the foreign limited liability company immediately prior to the filing of the articles of organization; (ii) the date on which and the jurisdiction in which the foreign limited liability company was first formed, organized, created or otherwise came into being; and (iii) the jurisdiction that constituted the seat, siege social, or principal place of business or central administration of the foreign limited liability company, or any equivalent thereto under applicable law, immediately prior to the filing of the articles of organization. With respect to a foreign limited liability company that is also organized as a Virginia limited liability company, the terms and conditions of its organization as a Virginia limited liability company shall be approved in the manner provided for by the document, instrument, agreement or other writing, as the case may be, governing the internal affairs of the foreign limited liability company in the conduct of its business or by applicable law other than the law of the Commonwealth, as appropriate.

"Voice-over-Internet protocol service" or "VoIP service" means any service that: (i) enables real-time, two-way voice communications that originate or terminate from the user's location using Internet protocol or any successor protocol and (ii) uses a broadband connection from the user's location. This definition includes any such service that permits users generally to receive calls that originate on the public switched telephone network and to terminate calls to the public switched telephone network.

Code 1919, §§ 3693, 3881; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 23; 1984, c. 382; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2004, c. 1028; 2006, cc. 691, 912, 929, 941; 2007, c. 619; 2009, c. 746; 2011, cc. 408, 738, 740; 2016, c. 288.

§ 56-1.1. Designation as public service corporation.

The State Corporation Commission may designate a business enterprise operating as a telephone or telecommunications company to be a public service corporation when, upon appropriate inquiry and public hearing, the Commission determines that the enterprise is engaged in any of the public utility services described in § 56-1. However, this section shall not apply to any mutual telephone association existing prior to January 1, 1984.

1984, c. 648.

§ 56-1.2. (Effective October 1, 2019) Persons, localities, and school boards not designated as public utility, public service corporation, etc.

The terms public utility, public service corporation, or public service company, as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) of this title, shall not refer to:

1. Any person who owns or operates property and provides electricity, natural gas, water, or sewer service to residents or tenants on the property, provided that (i) the electricity, natural gas, water, or sewer service provided to the residents or tenants is purchased by the person from a public utility, public service corporation, public service company, or person licensed by the Commission as a competitive provider of energy services, or a county, city or town, or other publicly regulated political subdivision or public body, (ii) the person or his agent charges to the resident or tenant on the property only that portion of the person's utility charges for the electricity, natural gas, water, or sewer service which is attributable to usage by the resident or tenant on the property, and additional service charges permitted by § 55.1-1212 or 55.1-1404, as applicable, and (iii) the person maintains three years' billing records for such charges.

2. Any (i) person who is not a public service corporation and who provides electric vehicle charging service at retail, (ii) school board that operates retail fee-based electric vehicle charging stations on school property pursuant to § 22.1-131, (iii) locality that operates a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on property owned or leased by the locality pursuant to § 15.2-967.2, or (iv) board of visitors of any baccalaureate public institution of higher education that operates a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on the grounds of such institution pursuant to § 23.1-1301.1. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, and the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render such person, school board, locality, or board of visitors a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

3. The Department of Conservation and Recreation when operating a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on property of any existing state park or similar recreational facility the Department controls pursuant to § 10.1-104.01. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, or the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render the Department of Conservation and Recreation a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

4. The Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System when operating a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on the grounds of any comprehensive community college pursuant to § 23.1-2908.1. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, or the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render the Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

5. The Department of General Services, Department of Motor Vehicles, or Department of Transportation when operating a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on any property or facility that such agency controls. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, or the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render the agency a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

1993, c. 265; 1999, c. 778; 2000, c. 994; 2003, c. 355; 2011, c. 408; 2017, c. 239; 2018, cc. 295, 446; 2019, c. 248.

§ 56-1.2. (Effective until October 1, 2019) Persons, localities, and school boards not designated as public utility, public service corporation, etc.

The terms public utility, public service corporation, or public service company, as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) of this title, shall not refer to:

1. Any person who owns or operates property and provides electricity, natural gas, water, or sewer service to residents or tenants on the property, provided that (i) the electricity, natural gas, water, or sewer service provided to the residents or tenants is purchased by the person from a public utility, public service corporation, public service company, or person licensed by the Commission as a competitive provider of energy services, or a county, city or town, or other publicly regulated political subdivision or public body, (ii) the person or his agent charges to the resident or tenant on the property only that portion of the person's utility charges for the electricity, natural gas, water, or sewer service which is attributable to usage by the resident or tenant on the property, and additional service charges permitted by § 55-226.2, and (iii) the person maintains three years' billing records for such charges.

2. Any (i) person who is not a public service corporation and who provides electric vehicle charging service at retail, (ii) school board that operates retail fee-based electric vehicle charging stations on school property pursuant to § 22.1-131, (iii) locality that operates a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on property owned or leased by the locality pursuant to § 15.2-967.2, or (iv) board of visitors of any baccalaureate public institution of higher education that operates a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on the grounds of such institution pursuant to § 23.1-1301.1. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, and the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render such person, school board, locality, or board of visitors a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

3. The Department of Conservation and Recreation when operating a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on property of any existing state park or similar recreational facility the Department controls pursuant to § 10.1-104.01. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, or the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render the Department of Conservation and Recreation a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

4. The Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System when operating a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on the grounds of any comprehensive community college pursuant to § 23.1-2908.1. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, or the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render the Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

5. The Department of General Services, Department of Motor Vehicles, or Department of Transportation when operating a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on any property or facility that such agency controls. The ownership or operation of a facility at which electric vehicle charging service is sold, or the selling of electric vehicle charging service from that facility, does not render the agency a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company as used in Chapters 1 (§ 56-1 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.), 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.), and 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation.

1993, c. 265; 1999, c. 778; 2000, c. 994; 2003, c. 355; 2011, c. 408; 2017, c. 239; 2018, cc. 295, 446; 2019, c. 248.

§ 56-1.2:1. Retail sale of electricity in connection with the provision of electric vehicle charging service.

A. The provision of electric vehicle charging service by a person, locality, public institution of higher education, or a school board that is not a public utility, public service corporation, or public service company, or by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of General Services, Department of Motor Vehicles, or Department of Transportation, shall not constitute the retail sale of electricity if:

1. The electricity furnished in connection with the provision of electric vehicle charging service is used solely for transportation purposes; and

2. The person, locality, public institution of higher education, or school board providing the electric vehicle charging service, or the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of General Services, Department of Motor Vehicles, or Department of Transportation, has procured the furnished electricity from the public utility that is authorized by the Commission to engage in the retail sale of electricity within the exclusive service territory in which the electric vehicle charging service is provided.

B. The provision of electric vehicle charging service shall:

1. Be a permitted electric utility activity of a certificated electric utility; and

2. Not affect the status as a public utility of a certificated public utility that provides such service.

2011, c. 408; 2017, c. 239; 2018, cc. 295, 446; 2019, c. 248.

§ 56-1.3. Regulation of Voice-over-Internet protocol service.

Notwithstanding any provision of law, except § 58.1-1730, to the contrary:

1. "Telecommunications service" and "telephone service" shall not include the provision of Voice-over-Internet protocol service for purposes of regulation by the Commission.

2. The Commission shall not have jurisdiction with respect to the regulation of Voice-over-Internet protocol service, including but not limited to the imposition of regulatory fees, certification requirements, and the filing or approval of tariffs.

3. Nothing herein shall be construed to either mandate or prohibit the payment of switched network access rates or other intercarrier compensation, if any, related to Voice-over-Internet protocol service, as may be determined by the Commission.

2006, c. 691; 2018, cc. 532, 533.

§ 56-2. Public service corporations, etc., governed by provisions of this title.

Every public service corporation heretofore or hereafter incorporated and authorized to construct, maintain, or operate, in this Commonwealth, any work of public service, and every association, person, or partnership constructing, maintaining, or operating any such work, shall be governed by the provisions of this title and Title 13.1, so far as they apply to such corporations, associations, persons, and partnerships, as well as by any laws that may hereafter be enacted relating to such corporations.

Code 1919, § 3900.

§ 56-3. Expenses prior to organization.

The expenses incurred prior to the organization of any public service corporation, for preliminary surveys, or for stationery or advertising, or any other necessary matter or thing, may, if deemed reasonable by the president and directors, be paid by their order.

Code 1919, § 3901.

§ 56-4. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1954, c. 188.

§ 56-5. Triple damages for injury to property of public service corporation.

Any person who shall wilfully destroy, injure, or obstruct any of the works or property of a public service corporation shall be liable to such corporation for three times the amount of the actual damage thereby sustained. This section shall not relieve such person of any liability to criminal prosecution for such offense, or of any fine or imprisonment imposed by law therefor.

Code 1919, § 3894.

§ 56-5.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2005, c. 35.

§ 56-6. Remedies of persons aggrieved by public service corporation's violation of law.

Any person or corporation aggrieved by anything done or omitted in violation of any of the provisions of this or any other chapter under this title, by any public service corporation chartered or doing business in this Commonwealth, shall have the right to make complaint of the grievance and seek relief by petition against such public service corporation before the State Corporation Commission, sitting as a court of record. If the grievance complained of be established, the Commission, sitting as a court of record, shall have jurisdiction, by injunction, to restrain such public service corporation from continuing the same, and to enjoin obedience to the requirements of this law, and the Commission, sitting as a court of record, shall also have jurisdiction, by mandamus, to compel any public service corporation to observe and perform any public duty imposed upon public service corporations by the laws of this Commonwealth, subject as to any matter arising under this section to the right of appeal to the Supreme Court by either party as of right in the mode prescribed by law; but nothing in this section shall be construed to confer any power upon the Commission which is forbidden to the courts by § 56-429.

Code 1919, § 3902.

§ 56-7. Common law, etc., remedies not altered or abridged.

Nothing contained in this title shall in any way abridge or alter existing remedies at common law or under any other statute, but the new remedies given shall be deemed to be in addition to those already existing.

Code 1919, § 3903.

§ 56-8. Repeal of charter.

The charter of every public service corporation heretofore or hereafter incorporated may be repealed by any future General Assembly; but no law shall be passed for taking from a company its works or property without making to it just compensation.

Code 1919, § 3891.

§ 56-8.1. Free services to members of General Assembly and others prohibited.

No public service corporation doing business in this Commonwealth shall grant to any member of the General Assembly or to any state, county, district, or municipal officer any free pass, free transportation, or any rebate or reduction in the rates charged by such corporation to the general public. Any public service corporation violating this section and any person receiving any privilege or benefit prohibited by this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall each be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000 for each such offense. This section shall not be construed to prevent any public service corporation from granting free transportation, services or free passes to any person including those set forth herein who would by virtue of their employment or service as an officer, director or otherwise be entitled thereto, or to members of any police force or fire department while in the discharge of their official duties.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 9.

§ 56-8.2. Appeals in rate cases.

Any public service corporation which is required by law to file a schedule of rates with the Commission, or the Commonwealth, or any other party in interest or party aggrieved may appeal to the Supreme Court from any final decision or order of the Commission concerning such rates. Upon the granting of such appeal, the Supreme Court may award or refuse a writ of supersedeas, and, if a writ of supersedeas be awarded, it may suspend the operation of the action appealed from in whole or in part. Alternatively, the Supreme Court in its discretion may authorize putting into effect of the schedule of rates so filed and suspended by the Commission or the schedule of rates existing at the time of the filing of the schedule upon which the investigation and hearing have been had, or require the inauguration of the schedule of rates as ordered by the Commission, until the final disposition of the appeal. But, prior to the final reversal by the Supreme Court of the order appealed to the Supreme Court, no action of the Commission prescribing or affecting rates or charges shall be delayed, or suspended in its operation, by reason of any appeal by the party whose rates or charges are affected, or by reason of any proceeding resulting from such appeal until a suspending bond payable to the Commonwealth has been executed and filed with the Commission with such conditions, in such penalty, and with such surety thereon as the Commission, subject to review by the Supreme Court, may deem sufficient. In any appeal from action of the Commission prescribing or affecting the rates or charges of a public service corporation, such bond, or if no bond is required, the order of the Supreme Court, shall expressly provide for the prompt refunding to the parties entitled thereto of all charges which may have been collected or received, pending the appeal, in excess of those fixed, or authorized by the final decision on appeal, with interest from the date of the collection thereon. But no bond shall be required of the Commonwealth. Any bond required under this section shall be enforced in the name of the Commonwealth before the Commission or before any court having jurisdiction, and the process and proceedings thereon shall be as provided by law upon bonds of like character required to be taken by courts of record of this Commonwealth.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 227.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

The Virginia General Assembly is offering access to the Code of Virginia on the Internet as a service to the public. We are unable to assist users of this service with legal questions nor respond to requests for legal advice or the application of the law to specific facts. Therefore, to understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.

The Code of Virginia online database excludes material copyrighted by the publisher, Michie, a division of Matthew Bender. Copyrighted material includes annotations and revisors' notes, which may be found in the print version of the Code of Virginia. Annotated print copies of the Code of Virginia are available in most Virginia public library systems, from LexisNexis (1-800-446-3410), and from West, a Thomson-Reuters business (1-800-344-5008).