Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Subtitle .
Chapter 10. Heat, Light, Power, Water and Other Utility Companies Generally
12/5/2022

Chapter 10. Heat, Light, Power, Water and Other Utility Companies Generally.

Article 1. Definitions.

§ 56-232. Public utility and schedules defined.

A. The term "public utility" as used in §§ 56-233 to 56-240 and 56-246 to 56-250:

1. Shall mean and embrace every corporation (other than a municipality), company, individual, or association of individuals or cooperative, their lessees, trustees, or receivers, appointed by any court whatsoever, that now or hereafter may own, manage or control any plant or equipment or any part of a plant or equipment within the Commonwealth for the conveyance of telephone messages or for the production, transmission, delivery, or furnishing of heat, chilled air, chilled water, light, power, or water, or sewerage facilities, either directly or indirectly, to or for the public.

2. Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision 1 of this subsection or subsection G of § 13.1-620, shall also include any governmental entity established pursuant to the laws of any other state, corporation (other than a municipality established under the laws of this Commonwealth), company, individual, or association of individuals or cooperative, their lessees, trustees, or receivers, appointed by any court whatsoever, that at any time owns, manages or controls any plant or equipment, or any part thereof, located within the Commonwealth, which plant or equipment is used in the provision of sewage treatment services to or for an authority as defined in § 15.2-5101; however, the Commission shall have no jurisdiction to regulate the rates, terms and conditions of sewage treatment services that are provided by any such public utility directly to persons pursuant to the terms of a franchise agreement between the public utility and a municipality established under the laws of this Commonwealth.

3. Except as provided in subdivision 2, shall not be construed to include any corporation created under the provisions of Title 13.1 unless the articles of incorporation expressly state that the corporation is to conduct business as a public service company.

B. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no person, firm, corporation, or other entity shall be deemed a public utility or public service company, solely by virtue of engaging in production, transmission, or sale at retail of electric power as a qualifying small power producer using renewable or nondepletable primary energy sources within the meaning of regulations adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-617) and not exceeding 7.5 megawatts of rated capacity, nor solely by virtue of serving as an aggregator of the production of such small power producers, provided that the portion of the output of any qualifying small power producer which is sold at retail shall not be sold to residential consumers.

C. No qualifying small power producer, within the meaning of regulations adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, shall be deemed a public utility within the meaning of Chapter 7 (§ 62.1-80 et seq.) of Title 62.1.

D. The term "public utility" as herein defined shall not be construed to include any chilled water air-conditioning cooperative serving residences in less than a one square mile area, or any company that is excluded from the definition of "public utility" by subdivision (b)(4), (b)(8), (b)(9), or (b)(10) of § 56-265.1.

E. Subject to the provisions of § 56-232.1, the term "schedules" as used in §§ 56-234 through 56-245 shall include schedules of rates and charges for service to the public and also contracts for rates and charges in sales at wholesale to other public utilities or for divisions of rates between public utilities, but shall not include contracts of telephone companies with the state government or contracts of other public utilities with municipal corporations or the federal or state government, or any contract executed prior to July 1, 1950.

Code 1919, § 4067; 1918, p. 413; 1922, p. 887; 1942, p. 20; 1950, pp. 54, 481; 1954, c. 525; 1956, c. 436; 1964, c. 195; 1966, c. 620; 1975, c. 358; 1981, c. 385; 1984, c. 341; 1985, cc. 2, 41; 1990, c. 488; 1999, c. 419; 2000, cc. 528, 543; 2002, c. 813; 2003, c. 172; 2006, c. 411; 2009, c. 746.

§ 56-232.1. Regulation of service by certain gas pipeline companies to municipalities.

Notwithstanding any provision of law the Commission shall regulate, to the same extent as it regulates other public utilities, the utility service furnished to any municipal corporation by a natural gas pipeline transmission company, all of whose facilities are located within the Commonwealth, and the rates, charges and facilities of such company used to furnish such service.

1985, c. 41.

§ 56-232.2. Regulation of compressed natural gas service.

The Commission may refrain from regulating and prescribing the rates, charges, and fees for the provision of retail compressed natural gas service provided by corporations other than public service corporations. Wholesale compressed natural gas sales provided by public service corporations shall continue to be regulated by the Commission to the same extent as are services provided by other public utilities under this chapter. The Commission may adopt regulations implementing this statute.

1991, c. 263.

§ 56-232.2:1. Regulation of electric vehicle charging service.

The Commission shall not regulate or prescribe the rates, charges, and fees for the provision of retail electric vehicle charging service provided by any agency as defined in § 2.2-128, persons, localities, park authority created by a locality pursuant to § 15.2-5702, or school boards other than public service corporations. Sales of electricity by public utilities to an agency as defined in § 2.2-128, a person, a locality, park authority created by a locality pursuant to § 15.2-5702, or a school board that (i) is not a public service corporation and (ii) provides electric vehicle charging service shall continue to be regulated by the Commission to the same extent as are other services provided by public utilities. The Commission may adopt regulations implementing this section.

2011, c. 408; 2017, c. 239; 2018, cc. 295, 446; 2019, c. 248; 2020, c. 490; 2022, c. 255.

§ 56-232.3. Regulation of service by certain gas distribution companies to federal, state and local governmental facilities.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 56-232, the Commission shall regulate, to the same extent as it regulates other public utility service, the utility service furnished to any federal, state or local governmental facility by a natural gas distribution company for which a service area has been determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or its predecessor, under Section 717(f)(1) of the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. § 717(f)(1).

1995, c. 454.

§ 56-233. Service defined.

The term "service" is used in this chapter in its broadest and most inclusive sense and includes not only the use and quality of accommodations afforded consumers or patrons, but also any product or commodity furnished by any public utility and equipment, apparatus, appliances and facilities devoted to the purposes in which such public utility is engaged and to the use and accommodation of the public.

Code 1919, § 4068; 1980, c. 249.

Article 1.1. Purchasing Practices.

§ 56-233.1. Public utilities purchasing practices.

Every public utility subject to the annual or biennial review provisions of Title 56 shall use competitive bidding to the extent practicable in its purchasing and construction practices. In addition, all such public utilities shall file with the Commission and keep current a description of its purchasing and construction practices.

1978, c. 627; 2007, cc. 888, 933; 2008, c. 522.

Article 2. Services, Rates, Charges, Etc.

§ 56-234. Duty to furnish adequate service at reasonable and uniform rates.

A. It shall be the duty of every public utility to furnish reasonably adequate service and facilities at reasonable and just rates to any person, firm or corporation along its lines desiring same. Notwithstanding any other provision of law:

1. A telephone company shall not have the duty to extend or expand its facilities to furnish service and facilities when the person, firm or corporation has service available from one or more alternative providers of wireline or terrestrial wireless communications services at prevailing market rates; and

2. A telephone company may meet its duty to furnish reasonably adequate service and facilities through the use of any and all available wireline and terrestrial wireless technologies; however, a telephone company, when restoring service to an existing wireline customer, shall offer the option to furnish service using wireline facilities.

For purposes of subdivisions 1 and 2, the Commission shall have the authority upon request of an individual, corporation, or other entity, or a telephone company, to determine whether the wireline or terrestrial wireless communications service available to the party requesting service is a reasonably adequate alternative to local exchange telephone service.

The use by a telephone company of wireline and terrestrial wireless technologies shall not be construed to grant any additional jurisdiction or authority to the Commission over such technologies.

For purposes of subdivision 1, "prevailing market rates" means rates similar to those generally available to consumers in competitive areas for the same services.

B. It shall be the duty of every public utility to charge uniformly therefor all persons, corporations or municipal corporations using such service under like conditions. However, no provision of law shall be deemed to preclude voluntary rate or rate design tests or experiments, or other experiments involving the use of special rates, where such experiments have been approved by order of the Commission after notice and hearing and a finding that such experiments are necessary in order to acquire information which is or may be in furtherance of the public interest. The Commission's final order regarding any petition filed by an investor-owned electric utility for approval of a voluntary rate or rate design test or experiment shall be entered the earlier of not more than six months after the filing of the petition or not more than three months after the date of any evidentiary hearing concerning such petition. The charge for such service shall be at the lowest rate applicable for such service in accordance with schedules filed with the Commission pursuant to § 56-236. But, subject to the provisions of § 56-232.1, nothing contained herein or in § 56-481.1 shall apply to (i) schedules of rates for any telecommunications service provided to the public by virtue of any contract with, (ii) for any service provided under or relating to a contract for telecommunications services with, or (iii) contracts for service rendered by any telephone company to, the state government or any agency thereof, or by any other public utility to any municipal corporation or to the state or federal government. The provisions hereof shall not apply to or in any way affect any proceeding pending in the State Corporation Commission on or before July 1, 1950, and shall not confer on the Commission any jurisdiction not now vested in it with respect to any such proceeding.

C. The Commission may conclude that competition can effectively ensure reasonably adequate retail services in competitive exchanges and may carry out its duty to ensure that a public utility is furnishing reasonably adequate retail service in its competitive exchanges by monitoring individual customer complaints and requiring appropriate responses to such complaints.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 675; 1924, p. 540; 1927, p. 125; 1950, p. 55; 1964, c. 195; 1970, c. 258; 1976, c. 290; 1985, cc. 2, 41; 2002, c. 833; 2011, cc. 738, 740; 2018, c. 296.

§ 56-234.1. Liability to customer for violation of duty to determine and charge lowest rate applicable.

It shall be the duty of every public utility, upon written request by the customer, to determine the lowest rate applicable, provided that such public utility shall not be required to make such a determination for any single customer more frequently than annually. If the rate charged thereafter is not such lowest rate applicable, such public utility shall be liable to the customer for the amount of the difference between the amount paid by the customer and the amount that would have been paid if the customer had been charged the lowest rate applicable from and after the customer's request; provided that the public utility may require and rely on written information from the customer relating to the customer's expected demand for and use of the utility service where such information is relevant to the determination required hereunder. Where a contract for a specified period of time is lawfully required by the public utility, the rates prescribed by such contract shall be lawful during the term of such contract so long as they are the lowest applicable to the conditions of service specified in the contract, unless the actual conditions of service require the application of a higher rate. This section shall not be applicable to rates charged by any public utility prior to July 1, 1970.

1970, c. 258.

§ 56-234.2. Review of rates.

The Commission shall review the rates of any public utility on an annual basis when, in the opinion of the Commission, such annual review is in the public interest, provided that the rates of a public utility subject to § 56-585.1 shall be reviewed in accordance with subsection A of that section.

1972, c. 537; 2007, cc. 888, 933.

§ 56-234.3. Approval of expenditures for and monitoring of new generation facilities and projected operation programs of electric utilities.

Prior to construction or financial commitments therefor, any electric utility subject to the jurisdiction of the State Corporation Commission intending to construct any new generation facility capable of producing 100 megawatts or more of electric energy shall submit to the State Corporation Commission a petition setting forth the nature of the proposed construction and the necessity therefor in relation to its projected forecast of programs of operation. Such petition shall include (i) the utility's preliminary construction plans, (ii) the methods by which the work will be contracted, by competitive bid or otherwise, (iii) the names and addresses of the contractors and subcontractors, when known, proposed to do such work, and (iv) the plan by which the public utility will monitor such construction to ensure that the work will be done in a proper, expeditious and efficient manner. The Commission, upon receipt of the petition, shall order that a public hearing be held to assist it in accumulating as much relevant data as possible in reaching its determination for the necessity of the proposed generation facility. The Commission shall review the petition, consider the testimony given at the public hearing, and determine whether the proposed improvements are necessary to enable the public utility to furnish reasonably adequate service and facilities at reasonable and just rates. After making its determination, the Commission shall enter an order within nine months after the filing of such petition either approving or disapproving the proposed expenditure. Upon approval, the Commission shall set forth in its order terms and conditions it deems necessary for the efficient and proper construction of the generation facility.

Every electric utility capable of producing 100 megawatts or more of electric energy shall file with the Commission a projected forecast of its programs of operation, on such terms and for such time periods as directed by the Commission. Such a forecast shall include, but not be limited to, the anticipated required capacity to fulfill the requirements of the forecast, how the utility will achieve such capacity, the financial requirements for the period covered, the anticipated sources of those financial requirements, the research and development procedures, where appropriate, of new energy sources, and the budget for the research and development program.

In addition, the Commission shall investigate and monitor the major construction projects of any public utility to assure that such projects are being conducted in an economical, expeditious, and efficient manner.

Whenever uneconomical, inefficient or wasteful practices, procedures, designs or planning are found to exist, the Commission shall have the authority to employ, at the sole expense of the utility, qualified persons, answerable solely to the Commission, who shall audit and investigate such practices, procedures, designs or planning and recommend to the Commission measures necessary to correct or eliminate such practices, procedures, designs or planning.

Consistent with § 56-235.3, any public utility, electric or otherwise, seeking to pass through the cost of any capital project to its customers, shall have the burden of proving that such cost was incurred through reasonable, proper and efficient practices, and to the extent that such public utility fails to bear such burden of proof, such costs shall not be passed on to its customers in its rate base.

The Commission shall have the authority to approve, disapprove, or alter the utility's program in a manner consistent with the best interest of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The petitioning or filing public utility may appeal the decision of the Commission to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

1976, c. 701; 1977, c. 261; 1978, c. 700; 1984, cc. 453, 454; 1997, c. 138.

§ 56-234.4. Authority to investigate utility operations to determine efficiency.

The Commission shall have the authority to investigate public utilities for the purpose of determining efficiency and economy of operations.

1977, c. 261.

§ 56-234.5. Required disclosure by certain officers and directors of certain utilities.

If it comes to the attention of any elected officer or director of a public utility, as defined in § 56-232, that such public utility has, during the preceding calendar year, let a construction, engineering or equipment contract, including any subcontract, of a value in excess of $750,000 to a contractor or subcontractor in which such officer or director, or the spouse of such officer or director living in the same household, owns stocks or bonds or an equity interest, constituting more than five percent of the ownership of such contractor or subcontractor or valued at more than $50,000, whichever is less, such officer or director shall file with the Commission, by April 30 of each year, a list of every such contractor or subcontractor. This requirement shall only apply to the elected officer or director of a public utility that has its rates, tolls, charges, or schedules set by the Commission based on the public utility's cost of providing service.

1979, c. 9; 2010, c. 581.

§ 56-235. When Commission may fix rates, schedules, etc.; conformance with chapter.

If upon investigation the rates, tolls, charges, schedules, or joint rates of any public utility operating in this Commonwealth shall be found to be unjust, unreasonable, insufficient or unjustly discriminatory or to be preferential or otherwise in violation of any of the provisions of law, the State Corporation Commission shall have power to fix and order substituted therefor such rate or rates, tolls, charges or schedules as shall be just and reasonable. All rates, tolls, charges or schedules set by the Commission shall be valid only if they are in full conformance with the provisions of this chapter.

Code 1919, § 4071; 1977, c. 336.

§ 56-235.1. Conservation of energy and capital resources.

It shall be the duty of the Commission to investigate from time to time the acts, practices, rates or charges of public utilities so as to determine whether such acts, practices, rates or charges are reasonably calculated to promote the maximum effective conservation and use of energy and capital resources used by public utilities in rendering utility service. Where the Commission finds that the public interest would be served, it may order any public utility to eliminate, alter or adopt a substitute for any act, practice, rate or charge which is not reasonably calculated to promote the maximum effective conservation and use of energy and capital resources used by public utilities in providing utility service and it may further provide for the dissemination of information to the public, either through the Commission staff or through a public utility, in order to promote public understanding and cooperation in achieving effective conservation of such resources; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the adoption of any rate or charge which is clearly not cost-based or which is in the nature of a penalty for otherwise permissible use of utility services. This section shall not apply to telephone companies.

1976, c. 379; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-235.1:1. Rates for stand-by electric service at renewable cogeneration facilities.

A. The Commission shall adopt regulations pursuant to its rules of practice and procedure that require an electric utility to provide a rate for stand-by service to customers that operate a cogeneration facility in the Commonwealth that generates renewable energy, as defined in § 56-576. Such regulations shall allow the electric utility to recover all of the costs that are identified by the electric utility and determined by the Commission to be related to the provision of the stand-by service, including but not limited to the costs of transformers and other equipment required to provide stand-by service and the costs of capacity and generation, including but not limited to fuel costs.

B. Within 90 days following the effective date of the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection A, each public utility providing electric service in the Commonwealth shall submit a plan setting forth how the utility will comply with the regulations if it does not already have stand-by provisions approved by the Commission that comply with the regulations. The Commission shall, after notice and the opportunity for hearing, determine whether a utility's plan complies with the regulations.

2009, c. 745.

§ 56-235.1:2. Costs of using small, women-owned, or minority-owned businesses.

In any proceeding under this title in which the Commission is required to determine whether costs incurred by a public utility in its delivery or provision of any goods or service are reasonable or prudent, the incremental portion of the costs incurred as a result of the public utility's contracting with a small, woman-owned, or minority-owned business to deliver or provide the goods or service rather than contracting with a business that could have delivered or provided the goods or service at lower costs shall not be found to be unreasonable or imprudently incurred, provided that the costs of the delivery or provision of the goods or services by the small, woman-owned, or minority-owned business do not exceed, by more than three percent, the costs thereof that would have been incurred had the public utility contracted with the lowest-cost qualified business. As used in this section, "small, woman-owned, or minority-owned business" means a business that is certified by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity as a small, women-owned, or minority-owned business pursuant to the conditions and provisions in § 2.2-1604.

2020, c. 744.

§ 56-235.2. All rates, tolls, etc., to be just and reasonable to jurisdictional customers; findings and conclusions to be set forth; alternative forms of regulation for electric companies.

A. Any rate, toll, charge or schedule of any public utility operating in this Commonwealth shall be considered to be just and reasonable only if: (1) the public utility has demonstrated that such rates, tolls, charges or schedules in the aggregate provide revenues not in excess of the aggregate actual costs incurred by the public utility in serving customers within the jurisdiction of the Commission, including such normalization for nonrecurring costs and annualized adjustments for future costs as the Commission finds reasonably can be predicted to occur during the rate year, and a fair return on the public utility's rate base used to serve those jurisdictional customers, which return shall be calculated in accordance with § 56-585.1 for utilities subject to such section; (1a) the investor-owned public electric utility has demonstrated that no part of such rates, tolls, charges or schedules includes costs for advertisement, except for advertisements either required by law or rule or regulation, or for advertisements which solely promote the public interest, conservation or more efficient use of energy; and (2) the public utility has demonstrated that such rates, tolls, charges or schedules contain reasonable classifications of customers. Notwithstanding § 56-234, the Commission may approve, either in the context of or apart from a rate proceeding after notice to all affected parties and hearing, special rates, contracts or incentives to individual customers or classes of customers where it finds such measures are in the public interest. Such special charges shall not be limited by the provisions of § 56-235.4. In determining costs of service, the Commission may use the test year method of estimating revenue needs. In any Commission order establishing a fair and reasonable rate of return for an investor-owned gas, telephone or electric public utility, the Commission shall set forth the findings of fact and conclusions of law upon which such order is based.

For ratemaking purposes, the Commission shall determine the federal and state income tax costs for investor-owned water, gas, or electric utility that is part of a publicly-traded, consolidated group as follows: (i) such utility's apportioned state income tax costs shall be calculated according to the applicable statutory rate, as if the utility had not filed a consolidated return with its affiliates, and (ii) such utility's federal income tax costs shall be calculated according to the applicable federal income tax rate and shall exclude any consolidated tax liability or benefit adjustments originating from any taxable income or loss of its affiliates.

In any ratemaking proceeding for an investor-owned utility authorized to furnish water or water and sewer service initiated after January 1, 2022, the Commission shall evaluate such utility on a stand-alone basis and, for purposes of establishing any revenue requirement and rates, utilize such utility's actual end-of-test period capital structure and cost of capital without regard to the cost of capital, capital structure, or investments of any other entities with which such utility may be affiliated, unless the Commission finds based on evidence in the record that the debt to equity ratio of the actual end-of-test period capital structure of such utility is unreasonable, in which case the Commission may utilize a debt to equity ratio that it finds to be reasonable. In all proceedings initiated after January 1, 2022, in which the Commission reviews the rates and associated earnings of an investor-owned utility authorized to furnish water or water and sewer service, the Commission shall conduct such review utilizing the same cost of capital and capital structure adopted in the utility's most recent rate case in which such rates were set, without regard to any later changes in the cost of capital or capital structure.

B. The Commission shall, before approving special rates, contracts, incentives or other alternative regulatory plans under subsection A, ensure that such action (i) protects the public interest, (ii) will not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any customer or class of customers, and (iii) will not jeopardize the continuation of reliable electric service.

C. After notice and public hearing, the Commission shall issue guidelines for special rates adopted pursuant to subsection A that will ensure that other customers are not caused to bear increased rates as a result of such special rates.

1977, c. 336; 1984, c. 312; 1996, c. 156; 2007, cc. 537, 888, 933; 2022, cc. 581, 582.

§ 56-235.3. Procedures for investigation of rate applications.

At any hearing on the application of a public utility for a change in a rate, toll, charge or schedule, the burden of proof to show that the proposed change is just and reasonable, shall be upon the public utility. The Commission shall be authorized to prescribe all necessary rules and regulations for the conduct of such hearings which shall provide for full and fair participation in such hearings by any interested person subject to such guidelines as the Commission may deem appropriate. Upon the conclusion of such hearings, the Commission shall issue an order and such opinion as is necessary to set forth fully the Commission's findings of fact and conclusions of law. Copies of the transcripts of public hearings held to establish a fair rate of return and changes in rates, tolls and charges for investor-owned public utilities involving significant public interest shall be placed in no less than one location nor more than three locations in the geographic area served by the utility. The Commission shall determine which proceedings are of sufficient interest to require the placing of such transcripts and the location or locations to be used; provided, however, that proceedings involving investor-owned utilities serving 25,000 or more customers shall be deemed to be of sufficient public interest.

1977, c. 336.

§ 56-235.4. Prohibition of multiple rate increases within any twelve-month period; exception.

A. The regulated operating revenues of a public utility shall not be increased pursuant to Chapter 9.1 (§ 56-231.15 et seq.), 10 (§ 56-232 et seq.) or 19 (§ 56-531 et seq.) of this title more than once within any twelve-month period. This limitation shall not apply to increases in regulated operating revenues resulting from (i) increases in rates pursuant to § 56-245 or § 56-249.6, (ii) any automatic rate adjustment clause approved by the Commission, (iii) new rate schedules for service not offered under existing rate schedules or for expansion, reduction, or termination of existing services, (iv) initiation, modification or termination of experimental rates under § 56-234, or (v) the making permanent of an experimental program. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, a telephone company may apply to the Commission to pass on to its customers as a part of its rates any changes approved by the Commission in the carrier access charges.

B. The Commission may adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. The Commission may specify, by rule, the time during the calendar year when application may be filed by electric utility and cooperatives, gas utilities, telephone utilities and cooperatives, and other utilities.

The Commission may by rule provide standards and procedures for expedited handling of rate increase applications, and such rules may provide that an expedited rate increase may take effect in less than twelve months after the preceding increase so long as regulated operating revenues are not increased pursuant to the provisions of subsection A of this section more than once in any calendar year.

1984, c. 725; 1989, c. 666; 1990, c. 787; 1995, c. 382; 1997, c. 707; 2000, c. 994.

§ 56-235.5. Telephone regulatory alternatives.

A. As used in this section, "telephone company" means any public service corporation or public service company which holds a certificate of public convenience and necessity to furnish local exchange telephone service, except that companies which are regulated pursuant to Chapter 16 (§ 56-485 et seq.) or 19 (§ 56-531 et seq.) of this title are not included within this definition.

B. In regulating telephone services of any telephone company, and notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Commission, after giving notice and an opportunity for hearing, may replace the ratemaking methodology set forth in § 56-235.2 with any alternative form of regulation which: (i) protects the affordability of basic local exchange telephone service, as such service is defined by the Commission; (ii) reasonably ensures the continuation of quality local exchange telephone service; (iii) will not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any class of telephone company customers or other providers of competitive services; and (iv) is in the public interest. Alternatives may differ among telephone companies and may include, but are not limited to, the use of price regulation, ranges of authorized returns, categories of services, price indexing or other alternative forms of regulation. A hearing under this section shall include the right to present evidence and be heard. Prior to any hearing under this section, the Commission shall provide parties an opportunity to conduct discovery.

C. Any telephone company or company regulated pursuant to Chapter 16 (§ 56-485 et seq.) or 19 (§ 56-531 et seq.) of this title may apply to the Commission at any time to obtain an alternative form of regulation. The Commission shall approve the application if it finds, after notice to all affected parties and hearing, that the proposal meets the standards for an alternative form of regulation set forth in subsection B.

1. A Commission order, including appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law, denying or approving, with or without modification, an application for an alternative form of regulation shall be entered no more than 90 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.

2. If the Commission approves the application with modifications, the telephone company, or company regulated pursuant to Chapter 16 (§ 56-485 et seq.) or 19 (§ 56-531 et seq.) of this title, may, at its option, withdraw its application and continue to be regulated under the form of regulation that existed immediately prior to the filing of the application, unless it is modified for a telephone company by the Commission pursuant to subsection B.

D. The Commission may, after notice and opportunity for hearing, alter, amend or revoke any alternative form of regulation previously implemented if it finds that (i) the affordability of basic local exchange service, as such service is defined by the Commission, is threatened by the alternative form of regulation; (ii) the quality of local exchange telephone service has deteriorated or will deteriorate to the point that the public interest will not be served by continuation of the alternative form of regulation; (iii) the terms ordered by the Commission in connection with approval of a company's application for alternative form of regulation have been violated; (iv) any class of telephone company customers or other providers of competitive services are being unreasonably prejudiced or disadvantaged by the alternative form of regulation; or (v) the alternative form of regulation is no longer in the public interest.

E. The Commission shall have the authority, after notice to all affected parties and an opportunity for hearing, to determine whether any telephone service of a telephone company is subject to competition and to provide, either by rule or case-by-case determination, for deregulation, detariffing, or modified regulation determined by the Commission to be in the public interest for such competitive services.

F. The Commission may determine telephone services of any telephone company to be competitive when it finds competition or the potential for competition in the market place is or can be an effective regulator of the price of those services. Such determination may be made by the Commission on a statewide or a more limited geographic basis, such as one or more political subdivisions or one or more telephone exchange areas, or on the basis of a category of customers, such as business or residential customers, or customers exceeding a revenue or service quantity threshold, or some combination thereof. The Commission may also determine bundles composed of a combination of competitive and noncompetitive services to be competitive if the noncompetitive services are available separately pursuant to tariff or otherwise. In determining whether competition effectively regulates the prices of services, the Commission shall consider: (i) the ease of market entry, (ii) the presence of other providers reasonably meeting the needs of consumers, and (iii) other factors the Commission considers relevant. For purposes of this section, the Commission shall consider all wireless communications providers that offer voice communications services to be facilities-based competitors owning wireline network facilities and reasonably meeting the needs of consumers, regardless of whether such wireless providers own wireline network facilities. In its determination, the Commission shall not exclude as a competitor any affiliate of the telephone company. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this subsection, any telephone services that are the functional equivalent of the services offered individually or as part of a bundle of services by a county, city or town pursuant to § 56-265.4:4 or Article 5.1 (§ 56-484.7:1 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of this title, either directly or pursuant to a public-private partnership, shall be deemed competitive services in the geographic area where the services of the county, city or town are offered for purposes of this article and any alternate regulatory plans approved by the Commission.

G. The Commission shall monitor the competitiveness of any telephone service previously found by it to be competitive under any provision of subsection F above and may change that conclusion, if, after notice and an opportunity for hearing, it finds that competition no longer effectively regulates the price of that service.

H. Whenever the Commission adopts an alternative form of regulation pursuant to subsection B or C above, or determines that a service is competitive pursuant to subsections E and F above, the Commission shall adopt safeguards to protect consumers and competitive markets. At a minimum these safeguards must ensure that there is no cross subsidization of competitive services by monopoly services.

I. If the Commission determines pursuant to subsections E and F that 75 percent or more of residential households or businesses in a telephone company's incumbent territory are in areas that have been determined by the Commission to be competitive for a telephone service, the Commission shall expand, for that telephone service throughout the company's incumbent territory, its competitive determination and apply the same regulatory treatment already adopted by the Commission for that telephone service in competitive areas, including any safeguards under subsection H.

J. If a telephone company provides 90 percent or more of its residential and business lines access to fiber optic or copper-based broadband service, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission, within an exchange area, the Commission shall expand, for basic and associated telephone services in that exchange area, its competitive determination and apply the same regulatory treatment already adopted by the Commission for those services in competitive areas, including any safeguards under subsection H.

1993, c. 21; 1996, c. 18; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2003, c. 711; 2009, c. 788.

§ 56-235.5:1. Local exchange telephone service competition policy.

A. The Commission, in resolving issues and cases concerning local exchange telephone service under the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104), this title, or both, shall, consistent with federal and state laws, consider it in the public interest to, as appropriate, (i) treat all providers of local exchange telephone services in an equitable fashion and without undue discrimination and, to the greatest extent possible, apply the same rules to all providers of local exchange telephone services; (ii) promote competitive product offerings, investments, and innovations from all providers of local exchange telephone services in all areas of the Commonwealth; and (iii) reduce or eliminate any requirement to price retail and wholesale products and services at levels that do not permit providers of local exchange telephone services to recover their costs of those products and services.

B. In order to treat all providers of local exchange telephone service more equitably and without undue discrimination by ensuring that they are subject to the same rules:

1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commission shall (i) for incumbent local exchange carriers serving more than 15,000 access lines in its incumbent territory, establish a schedule that eliminates the carrier common line charge element of intrastate carrier switched access charges no later than July 1, 2013, provided that (a) any such carrier that directly receives no later than April 1, 2010, a Broadband Initiatives Program grant and loan for use in the Commonwealth from the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) shall be considered under clause (ii), and (b) any such carrier that has not been the subject of a Commission proceeding to investigate its carrier common line charge may apply to the Commission for an opportunity to be heard as to why it is in the public interest and why it will not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage telephone customers throughout the Commonwealth to extend the deadline for the elimination of its carrier common line charge to a date determined by the Commission, but in no case later than July 1, 2014; and (ii) for incumbent local exchange carriers with 15,000 or fewer access lines in its incumbent territory, determine, no later than July 1, 2011, and after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, a schedule for the elimination of the carrier common line charge element of intrastate carrier switched access charges in a manner to be determined by the Commission.

2. The Commission shall permit any incumbent local exchange carrier to increase its retail rates to recover a reasonable amount of carrier common line charge revenue lost due to the reductions required in subdivision 1.

2004, c. 151; 2010, c. 748; 2013, c. 26.

§ 56-235.6. Optional performance-based regulation of certain utilities.

A. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Commission may approve a performance-based ratemaking methodology for any public utility engaged in the business of furnishing gas service (for the purposes of this section a "gas utility") or electricity service (for the purposes of this section an "electric utility"), upon application of the gas utility or electric utility, and after such notice and opportunity for hearing as the Commission may prescribe. For the purposes of this section, "performance-based ratemaking methodology" shall mean a method of establishing rates and charges that are in the public interest, and that departs in whole or in part from the cost-of-service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2.

B. The Commission shall approve such performance-based ratemaking methodology if it finds that it: (i) preserves adequate service to all classes of customers ( including transportation-only customers if for a gas utility); (ii) does not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any class of gas utility or electric utility customers; (iii) provides incentives for improved performance by the gas utility or electric utility in the conduct of its public duties; (iv) results in rates that are not excessive; and (v) is in the public interest. Performance-based forms of regulation may include, but not be limited to, fixed or capped base rates, the use of revenue indexing, price indexing, ranges of authorized return, gas cost indexing for gas utilities, and innovative utilization of utility-related assets and activities (such as a gas utility's off-system sales of excess gas supplies and release of upstream pipeline capacity, performance of billing services for other gas or electricity suppliers, and reduction or elimination of regulatory requirements) in ways that benefit both the utility and its customers and may include a mechanism for automatic annual adjustments to revenues or prices to reflect changes in any index adopted for the implementation of such performance-based form of regulation. In making the findings required by this subsection, the Commission shall include, but not be limited to, in its considerations: (i) any proposed measures, including investments in infrastructure, that are reasonably estimated to preserve or improve system reliability, safety, supply diversity, and gas utility transportation options; and (ii) other customer benefits that are reasonably estimated to accrue from the gas or electric utility's proposal.

C. Each gas utility or electric utility shall have the option to apply for implementation of a performance-based form of regulation. If the Commission approves the application with modifications, the gas utility or electric utility may, at its option, withdraw its application and continue to be regulated under the form of regulation that existed immediately prior to the filing of the application. The Commission may, after notice and opportunity for hearing, alter, amend or revoke, or authorize a gas utility or electric utility to discontinue, a performance-based form of regulation previously implemented under this section if it finds that (i) service to one or more classes of customers has deteriorated, or will deteriorate, to the point that the public interest will not be served by continuation of the performance-based form of regulation; (ii) any class of gas utility customer or electric utility customer is being unreasonably prejudiced or disadvantaged by the performance-based form of regulation; (iii) the performance-based form of regulation does not, or will not, provide reasonable incentives for improved performance by a gas utility or electric utility in the conduct of its public duties (which determination may include, but not be limited to, consideration of whether rates are inadequate to recover a gas utility's or electric utility's cost of service); (iv) the performance-based form of regulation is resulting in rates that are excessive compared to a gas utility's or electric utility's cost of service and any benefits that accrue from the performance-based plan; (v) the terms ordered by the Commission in connection with approval of a gas utility's or electric utility's implementation of a performance-based form of regulation have been violated; or (vi) the performance-based form of regulation is no longer in the public interest. Any request by a gas utility or electric utility to discontinue its implementation of a performance-based form of regulation may include application pursuant to this chapter for approval of new rates under the standards of § 56-235.2 for a gas utility or pursuant to § 56-585.1 for an investor-owned incumbent electric utility.

D. The Commission shall use the annual review process established in § 56-234.2 to monitor each performance-based form of regulation approved under this section and to make any annual prospective adjustments to revenues or prices necessary to reflect increases or decreases in any index adopted for the implementation of such performance-based form of regulation.

1996, c. 350; 2006, c. 574; 2007, cc. 888, 933.

§ 56-235.7. Jurisdiction of Commission when federal governmental facility ceases to be retail customer of electric utility.

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in § 56-234, the rates and charges for service to any federal governmental facility that is a retail customer of any electric utility prior to January 1, 1996, and which ceases, in whole or in part, to be a retail customer of that electric utility after January 1, 1996, because of its purchase of electricity from another supplier shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission for the limited purpose of determining the proper rate, if any, to be paid by the federal government to the electric utility for any and all costs stranded due to the cessation of such retail service, and payments of such costs shall be made pursuant to a tariff filed and approved by the Commission; provided, however, the Commission's jurisdiction shall not arise unless and until the effective date of any federal action that allows any federal governmental facility to purchase electricity from a supplier other than the electric public service company now providing electric service to such federal facility.

1996, c. 466.

§ 56-235.8. Retail supply choice for natural gas customers.

A. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, each public utility authorized to furnish natural gas service in Virginia (gas utility) is authorized to offer to all of the gas utility's customers not eligible for transportation service under tariffs in effect on the effective date of this section, direct access to gas suppliers (retail supply choice) by filing a plan for implementing retail supply choice with the State Corporation Commission for approval. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any retail supply choice pilot program in effect on July 1, 1999. The Commission shall accept such a plan for filing within thirty days of filing if it contains, at a minimum:

1. A schedule for implementing retail supply choice for all of its customers;

2. Tariff revisions, including proposed unbundled rates for firm and interruptible service (which may utilize a cost allocation and rate design formulated to recover the gas utility's nongas fixed costs on a nonvolumetric basis) and terms and conditions of service designed to provide nondiscriminatory open access over its transportation system, comparable to the transportation service provided by the gas utility to itself, to allow competitive suppliers to sell natural gas directly to the gas utility's customers. Any proposed unbundling rates shall include an explanation of the methodology used to develop the rates and a calculation of revenues, by customer class, thereby produced;

3. Nonbypassable, competitively neutral annual surcharges for the gas utility to properly allocate and recover from its firm service customers not eligible for nonpilot transportation service under tariffs in effect on the effective date of this section, its nonmitigable costs associated with the provision of retail supply choice, including prudently incurred contract obligation costs and transition costs. For the purposes of this section, contract obligation costs are costs associated with acquiring, maintaining or terminating interstate and intrastate pipeline and storage capacity contracts, less revenues generated by mitigating such contract obligations, whether by off-system sales, capacity release, pipeline supplier refunds or otherwise; and transition costs are costs incurred by the gas utility associated with educating the public on retail supply choice and redesigning its facilities, operations and systems to permit retail supply choice;

4. Tariff provisions to balance the receipts and deliveries of gas supplies to retail supply choice customers and allocate the gas utility's gas costs so that one class of customers is not subsidized by another class of customers;

5. Tariff provisions requiring the gas utility, at a minimum, to offer gas suppliers or retail supply choice customers the right to acquire the gas utility's upstream transmission and/or storage capacity in a manner that assures that one class of customers is not subsidized by another class of customers, provided that nothing contained herein shall deny the gas utility the right to request Commission approval of such tariff provisions as are designed to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to firm service customers on its system, including provisions requiring gas suppliers to accept assignment of upstream transportation and storage capacity, and/or allowing the gas utility to retain a portion of its upstream transportation and storage capacity to ensure safe and reliable natural gas service to its customers;

6. A code of conduct governing the activities and relationships between the gas utility and gas suppliers to prevent anticompetitive or discriminatory conduct and the unlawful exercise of market power. Such codes of conduct shall incorporate or be consistent with any rule or guideline established by the Commission; and

7. Any other requirement established by Commission rule or regulation.

The Commission may, by rule or regulation, impose such additional filing requirements as it deems necessary in the public interest. The Commission may also require a gas utility to continue to serve as a gas supplier to its customers after the gas utility's plan becomes effective and under such terms and conditions as are necessary to protect the public interest.

B. After the Commission has accepted a filing as provided in subsection A, the Commission shall review and approve a plan filed by a gas utility unless it determines, after notice and an opportunity for public hearing, that the plan would:

1. Adversely affect the quality, safety, or reliability of natural gas service by the gas utility or the provision of adequate service to the gas utility's customers;

2. Result in rates charged by the gas utility that are not just and reasonable rates within the contemplation of § 56-235.2 or that are in excess of levels approved by the Commission under § 56-235.6, as the case may be;

3. Adversely affect the gas utility's customers not participating in the retail supply choice plan;

4. Unreasonably discriminate against one class of the gas utility's customers in favor of another class (provided, however, that a gas utility's recovery of nongas fixed costs on a nonvolumetric basis shall not necessarily constitute unreasonable discrimination); or

5. Not be in the public interest.

The Commission shall, after the acceptance of a filing of a retail supply choice plan, approve or disapprove the plan within 120 days. The 120-day period may be extended by Commission order for an additional period not to exceed sixty days. The retail supply choice plan shall be deemed approved if the Commission fails to act within 120 days or any extended period ordered by the Commission. The Commission shall approve a retail supply choice plan filed by a gas utility pursuant to this subsection regardless of whether it has promulgated rules and regulations pursuant to subsection A. The Commission may also modify a plan filed by a gas utility to ensure that it conforms to the provisions of this subsection and is otherwise in the public interest. Plans approved pursuant to this section shall not be placed into effect before July 1, 2000.

C. The Commission may, on its own motion, direct a gas utility to file a retail supply choice plan, which shall comply with subsection A, shall include such other details in the plan as the Commission may require, and does not cause the effects set forth in subsection B, or the Commission may, on its own motion, propose a plan for a gas utility for retail supply choice that complies with the requirements of subsection A and does not cause the effects set forth in subsection B. The Commission may approve any plans under this subsection after notice to all affected parties and an opportunity for hearing.

D. Once a plan becomes effective pursuant to this section, if the Commission determines, after notice and opportunity for hearing, that the plan is causing, or is reasonably likely to cause, the effects set forth in subsection B, it may order revisions to the plan to remove such effects. Any such revisions to the plan will operate prospectively only.

E. If, upon application of at least twenty-five percent of retail supply choice customers or of 500 retail choice customers, whichever number is lesser, or by the gas utility, it is alleged that the marketplace for retail supply choice customer is not reasonably competitive or results in rates unreasonably in excess of what would otherwise be charged by the gas utility, or if the Commission renders such a determination upon its own motion, then the Commission may, after notice, and opportunity for hearing, terminate the gas utility's retail supply choice program and provide for an orderly return of the retail choice customers to the gas utility's traditional retail natural gas sales service. In such event, the gas utility shall be given the opportunity to acquire, under reasonable and competitive terms and conditions and within a reasonable time period, such upstream transportation and storage capacity as is necessary for it to provide traditional retail natural gas sales service to former retail supply choice customers.

F. Licensure of gas suppliers.

1. No person, other than a gas utility, shall engage in the business of selling natural gas to the residential and small commercial customers of a gas utility that has an approved plan implementing retail supply choice unless such person (for the purpose of this section, gas supplier) holds a license issued by the Commission. An application for a gas supplier license must be made to the Commission in writing, be verified by oath or affirmation and be in such form and contain such information as the Commission may, by rule or regulation, require. For purposes of this subsection, the Commission shall require a gas supplier to demonstrate that it has the means to provide natural gas to essential human needs customers. A gas supplier license shall be issued to any qualified applicant within forty-five days of the date of filing such application, authorizing in whole or in part the service covered by the application, unless the Commission determines otherwise for good cause shown. A person holding such a license shall not be considered a "public service corporation," "public service company" or a "public utility" and shall not be subject to regulation as such; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed to affect the liability of such a person for any license tax levied pursuant to Article 2 (§ 58.1-2620 et seq.) of Chapter 26 of Title 58.1. No license issued under this chapter shall be transferred without prior Commission approval finding that such transfer is not inconsistent with the public interest. If the Commission determines, after notice and opportunity for public hearing, that a gas supplier has failed to comply with the provisions of this subsection or the Commission's rules, regulations or orders, the Commission may enjoin, fine, or punish any such failure pursuant to the Commission's authority under this statute and under Title 12.1 of the Code of Virginia. The Commission may also suspend or revoke the gas supplier's license or take such other action as is necessary to protect the public interest.

2. The Commission shall establish rules and regulations for the implementation of this subsection, provided that:

a. The Commission's rules and regulations shall not govern the rates charged by licensed gas suppliers, except that the Commission's rules and regulations may govern the terms and conditions of service of licensed gas suppliers to protect the gas utility's customers from commercially unreasonable terms and conditions; and

b. The Commission's rules and regulations shall permit an affiliate of the gas utility to be licensed as a gas supplier and to participate in the gas utility's retail supply choice program under the same terms and conditions as gas suppliers not affiliated with the gas utility.

3. The Commission shall also have the authority to issue rules and regulations governing the marketing practices of gas suppliers.

G. Retail customers' private right of action; marketing practices.

1. No gas supplier shall use any deception, fraud, false pretense, misrepresentation, or any deceptive or unfair practices in providing or marketing gas service.

2. Any person who suffers loss (i) as the result of fraudulent marketing practices, including telemarketing practices, engaged in by any gas supplier providing any service made competitive under this section, or of any violation of rules and regulations issued by the Commission pursuant to subdivision F 3, or (ii) as the result of any violation of subdivision 1 of this subsection, shall be entitled to initiate an action to recover actual damages, or $500, whichever is greater. If the trier of fact finds that the violation was willful, it may increase damages to an amount not exceeding three times the actual damages sustained, or $1,000, whichever is greater. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, in addition to any damages awarded, such person also may be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.

3. The Attorney General, the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for the city, county or town may cause an action to be brought in the appropriate circuit court for relief of violations referenced in subdivision 2 of this subsection.

4. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in addition to any damages awarded, such person or governmental agency initiating an action pursuant to this section may be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.

5. Any action pursuant to this subsection shall be commenced by persons other than the Commission within two years after its accrual. The cause of action shall accrue as provided in § 8.01-230. However, if the Commission initiates proceedings, or any other governmental agency files suit for violations under this section, the time during which such proceeding or governmental suit and all appeals therefrom are pending shall not be counted as any part of the period within which an action under this section shall be brought.

6. The circuit court may make such additional orders or decrees as may be necessary to restore to any identifiable person any money or property, real, personal, or mixed, tangible or intangible, which may have been acquired from such person by means of any act or practice violative of this subsection, provided that such person shall be identified by order of the court within 180 days from the date of any order permanently enjoining the unlawful act or practice.

7. In any case arising under this subsection, no liability shall be imposed upon any gas supplier who shows by a preponderance of the evidence that (i) the act or practice alleged to be in violation of subdivision 1 of this subsection was an act or practice over which the same had no control or (ii) the alleged violation resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid a violation. However, nothing in this section shall prevent the court from ordering restitution and payment of reasonable attorney's fees and court costs pursuant to subdivision 4 of this subsection to individuals aggrieved as a result of an unintentional violation of this subsection.

H. Authorized public utilities shall file with the Commission tariff revisions reflecting the net effect of the elimination of taxes pursuant to subsection B of § 58.1-2904 and the addition of state income taxes pursuant to § 58.1-400. Such tariffs shall be effective for service rendered on and after January 1, 2001, and shall be filed at least forty-five days prior to the effective date. Such filing shall not constitute a rate increase for the purposes of § 56-235.4.

I. Consumer education.

1. The Commission shall develop a consumer education program designed to provide the following information to retail customers concerning retail supply choice for natural gas customers:

a. Opportunities and options in choosing natural gas suppliers;

b. Marketing and billing information gas suppliers will be required to furnish retail customers;

c. Retail customers' rights and obligations concerning the purchase of natural gas and related services; and

d. Such other information as the Commission may deem necessary and appropriate and in the public interest.

2. The consumer education program authorized herein may be conducted in conjunction with the program provided for in § 56-592.

3. The Commission shall establish or maintain a complaint bureau for the purpose of receiving, reviewing and investigating complaints by retail customers against gas utilities, public service companies, licensed suppliers and other providers of any services affected by this section. Upon the request of any interested person or the Attorney General, or upon its own motion, the Commission shall be authorized to inquire into possible violations of § 56-235.8 and to enjoin or punish any violations thereof pursuant to its authority under § 56-235.8, this title, or Title 12.1. The Attorney General shall have a right to participate in such proceedings consistent with the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

4. For all billing statements sent on and after August 1, 2000, all gas utilities, as defined in subsection A, shall enclose the following information in all billing statements for retail natural gas service:

a. Gas utilities shall separately state an approximate amount of the tax imposed under §§ 58.1-2626, 58.1-2660 and 58.1-3731 which is included in the customer's bill until such tax is no longer imposed; and

b. For all such billing statements, a statement which reads as follows shall be included: "Beginning January 1, 2001, the current state and local gross receipts taxes on sales of natural gas will be replaced by a tax based on the consumption of natural gas by consumers. In the past, the current gross receipts tax has always been included in the rate charged for natural gas. Now, this tax is being separately stated. The total gross receipts tax imposed by Virginia and the localities is approximately two percent of the amount charged to consumers. The new state and local consumption tax will be charged at an approximate rate of $0.02 per 100 cubic feet (CCF) of natural gas consumed. While this rate was designed to be less than, or equal to, the effect of the current gross receipts tax which is being replaced, the tax you pay may actually be higher in your locality. This statement is being provided for your information."

1999, c. 494; 2000, cc. 691, 706.

§ 56-235.9. Recovery of funds used for capital projects prior to a rate case for strategic natural gas facilities.

A. As used in this section:

"Capitalized carrying cost" includes the return on the investment, depreciation, and tax.

"Natural gas transmission company" means any investor-owned public service company engaged in the business of transporting natural gas to more than one electric utility, natural gas utility, or non-jurisdictional customer.

"Natural gas utility" means any investor-owned public service company engaged in the business of furnishing natural gas service to the public.

"Strategic natural gas facility" includes, without limitation, a natural gas distribution or transmission pipeline, storage facility, compressor station, liquefied natural gas facility, peaking facility or other appurtenant facility, used to furnish natural gas service in the Commonwealth that, for a natural gas utility with fewer than 150,000 customers, adds stand-alone design day deliverability or designed send-out of at least 10,000 dekaTherms per day or two or more such facilities, regardless of size, that add design day deliverability or designed send out of at least 75,000 dekaTherms per day in the aggregate, and for a natural gas utility with 150,000 or more customers, adds stand-alone design day deliverability or designed send out of at least 20,000 dekaTherms per day or two or more such facilities, regardless of size, that add design day deliverability or designed send out of at least 100,000 dekaTherms per day in the aggregate, and for a natural gas transmission company, adds design day deliverability or designed send out of at least 100,000 dekaTherms per day in the aggregate.

B. Any natural gas utility that places a strategic natural gas facility into service on or after July 1, 2008, or natural gas transmission company that places a strategic natural gas facility into service on or after July 1, 2014, to serve its customers shall have the right to recover through its rates charged to those customers the entire prudently incurred costs of the facility including: planning, development and construction costs; costs of infrastructure associated therewith; an allowance for funds used during construction; and the capitalized carrying cost from the time construction is completed and the asset is placed into service until the time that the Commission establishes new rates that include recovery of all costs as defined herein. Such recovery shall be permitted by allowing such costs to be recorded in the utility's plant accounts and included in rate base for purposes of cost recovery (i) in new rate schedules for service not offered under existing rate schedules or new rate schedules for expansion of existing services as permitted by § 56-235.4, (ii) in a rate case using the cost of service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2, or (iii) in a performance-based regulation plan authorized by § 56-235.6, subject to Commission determination that such costs were prudently incurred. The allowance for funds used during construction and the return on investment shall be calculated utilizing the weighted average cost of capital, including the cost of debt and cost of equity used in determining the natural gas utility's base rates in effect during the construction period of the strategic natural gas facility.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Commission from granting similar treatment to other natural gas facilities when the Commission deems such treatment to be in the public interest.

2008, c. 867; 2014, cc. 467, 507.

§ 56-235.10. Recovery of eligible safety activity costs; administration; procedure.

A. As used in this section:

"Eligible safety activity costs" means a natural gas utility's operation and maintenance expenditures that are related to (i) the development, implementation, or execution of the natural gas utility's integrity management program developed in conformance with 49 CFR Part 192, Subpart P -- Gas Distribution Pipeline Integrity Management or (ii) programs or measures implemented to comply with regulations issued by the Commission or a federal regulatory body with jurisdiction over pipeline safety.

"Natural gas utility" means any investor-owned public service company engaged in the business of furnishing natural gas service to the public.

B. In order to enhance pipeline safety in the Commonwealth, when the requirements of this section have been satisfied, a natural gas utility shall be permitted to recover eligible safety activity costs incurred on and after January 1, 2013, in future rates as provided in this section. The natural gas utility shall maintain the burden of demonstrating that the eligible safety activity costs have been reasonably and prudently incurred and that the criteria of this section have been satisfied.

C. A natural gas utility may account for eligible safety activity costs to be recovered pursuant to this section as deferred costs. The accumulated unrecovered balance of eligible safety activity costs deferred pursuant to this section shall not exceed four percent of the natural gas utility's net plant investment that was utilized in establishing or confirming base rates in the natural gas utility's most recent rate case using the cost of service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2 or performance-based regulation plan authorized by § 56-235.6. The eligible safety activity costs deferred hereunder shall be included in new base rates and charges instituted pursuant to a Commission order establishing or confirming customer rates in a rate case using the cost of service methodology set forth in § 56-235.2 or a performance-based regulation plan authorized by § 56-235.6. Such deferred costs shall not be subject to write-off or write-down by the Commission in an earnings test filing made pursuant to Commission rules governing utility rate increases and annual informational filings except as provided in this subsection. The natural gas utility shall be deemed to have recovered eligible safety activity costs to the extent that the return on equity earned by the natural gas utility in an earnings test filing for a given year, after consideration of the treatment of regulatory assets, is in excess of the mid-point of the rate of return on equity range specified or confirmed in the natural gas utility's most recent rate case or performance-based regulation plan. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event that a utility's base rates include eligible safety activity costs, the utility shall only be permitted to defer the level of eligible safety activity costs that are in excess of the level reflected in base rates.

D. Any natural gas utility that has on its books eligible safety activity costs deferred pursuant to this section shall include an earnings test filing as part of any application for an annual informational filing or rate proceeding.

2013, cc. 281, 406.

§ 56-235.11. Retail rates of affiliated water utilities.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Affiliate" of a specific water utility or a water utility "affiliated" with a specific water utility means a water utility that directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the water utility specified.

"Control," including the terms "controlling," "controlled by," and "under common control with," means direct or indirect possession of the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of a water utility through the ownership of an equity interest. Control shall be presumed to exist with respect to another water utility if any water utility directly or indirectly owns, controls, or holds with the power to vote 50 percent or more of the equity interest of the other water utility.

"Rates" includes rates, tolls, charges, or schedules.

"Subsidiary" of a specified water utility means an affiliate directly or indirectly controlled by that water utility through one or more intermediaries.

"Water utility" means an investor-owned public utility authorized to furnish water or water and sewer service within a certificated service territory in the Commonwealth except any such investor-owned public utility for which the Commission has approved, after July 1, 2009, and prior to July 1, 2017, a consolidated rate structure consisting of three or more rate groups for the same class of service and in one or more subsequent orders has approved additional consolidation of such rate groups.

"Water utility network" means a water utility and all other water utilities that the water utility is an affiliate of, is affiliated with, controls, is controlled by, is under common control with, or is a subsidiary of. "Water utility network" also means, with respect to a water utility that is authorized to furnish water or water and sewer service within multiple certificated service territories in the Commonwealth, all of the certificated service territories that the water utility is certificated to serve.

B. In any proceeding commenced on and after July 1, 2017, to establish or approve the rates of a water utility that is in a water utility network, the Commission shall ensure that the rates of each water utility in the water utility network are not unjustly discriminatory by ensuring that equal fixed and volumetric rates are charged for each customer class of each water utility that is in the water utility network.

C. Upon the commencement of a proceeding described in subsection B, the Commission shall make each water utility that is a member of the applicable water utility network a party to the proceeding and may review each member water utility's rates. In such proceeding:

1. The Commission shall review the rates of each member of the applicable water utility network and order gradual adjustments to such water utility's rates over an appropriate period in order to implement the provisions of subsection B; and

2. The Commission is authorized to aggregate the revenues and costs of the water utilities that are members of the applicable water utility network.

2017, c. 822.

§ 56-235.12. Economic development programs.

A. As used in this section:

"Acquire utility rights-of-way" means the planning, surveying, permitting, and acquisition of land, including options, easements, and other estates in land.

"Costs" includes depreciation, taxes, return on investment, and other land-related costs associated with costs incurred to acquire utility rights-of-way pursuant to a Program.

"Economic Development Program" or "Program" means a program under which a utility is authorized by the Commission under this section to acquire utility rights-of-way for one or more qualified economic development sites.

"Partnership" means the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority.

"Qualified economic development site" means an industrial site within the Commonwealth that has been certified by the Partnership pursuant to subsection B.

"Utility" means a public utility providing water, sewer, electric, or natural gas service to retail customers in the Commonwealth.

B. The Partnership is authorized to certify that an industrial site is a qualified economic development site if it finds that:

1. The person with legal authority to develop the site is authorized to contract for the extension of utility service to the site;

2. The development of the site is compliant with applicable zoning requirements and is consistent with the locality's comprehensive plan;

3. Applicable environmental surveys and reviews, including any wetlands survey, geotechnical borings, a topographical survey, a cultural resources review, an Endangered Species review, or a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment, if required, are completed;

4. An estimate of the costs of the development of the site has been prepared and provided to the Partnership; and

5. The acquisition of utility rights-of-way for the site will further the creation of new jobs and capital investment in the Commonwealth by facilitating the location of one or more significant economic development projects in the Commonwealth.

C. A utility proposing an Economic Development Program shall file a proposal with the Commission for review. A proposal for approval of a Program shall include an analysis of how acquiring utility rights-of-way will enhance the Commonwealth's infrastructure and promote the Commonwealth's competitive business environment by improving the readiness of a qualified economic development site.

D. The Commission shall approve, or approve with appropriate modifications, a Program if it finds that:

1. The implementation of the Program will provide material economic development benefits that might not otherwise be attained absent the Commission's approval of the Program;

2. The Program proposes a rate mechanism, including base rates or a rate adjustment clause, that authorizes the utility to recover its costs incurred in implementing the Program until such time as the investment is placed in service;

3. The proposal to acquire utility rights-of-way would not otherwise be immediately supported by expected revenues from new loads served under the Program at the qualified economic development site;

4. The utility's capital investment does not exceed one percent of gross plant investment in the aggregate or $5 million for any specific qualified economic development site;

5. The associated charges resulting from implementation of the Program will apply only to firm service customers;

6. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership has certified pursuant to subsection B that the site for which the utility proposes to acquire utility rights-of-way under the Program is a qualified economic development site;

7. The Program is designed only to acquire utility rights-of-way to a qualified economic development site and not to provide service to other customers or potential customers;

8. The utility's assumptions regarding costs to acquire utility rights-of-way under the Program are not unduly speculative; and

9. The Program is not otherwise contrary to the public interest.

E. After Commission review and absent action by the Commission to the contrary, the Program shall take effect 120 days following the date on which the proposal for the Program was filed. Any amendment to a Program following its implementation shall be submitted to the Commission at least 60 days prior to the proposed effective date thereof and, absent action by the Commission to the contrary, the amendment shall become effective on such date.

F. The Commission's approval of a Program shall authorize the utility to:

1. Acquire utility rights-of-way for the ordinary extension of utility facilities in the normal course of business to one or more qualified economic development sites; and

2. Recover costs incurred in implementing the Program, including costs deferred and associated carrying costs, from the time incurred until the time the Commission establishes new rates that include recovery of such deferred costs.

G. A utility, in implementing a Program, shall in good faith coordinate the acquisition of rights-of-way with communications providers and other utilities, including water, sewer, electric, or natural gas utilities, so that any facilities ultimately to be constructed may be collocated to the extent feasible.

H. In calculating the utility's return on the investment with regard to costs incurred in implementing a Program, the Commission shall use the utility's regulatory capital structure, including the cost of equity most recently approved by the Commission. If the utility's cost of capital at the time its Economic Development Program is filed has not been changed by order of the Commission within the preceding five years, the Commission may require the utility to file an updated weighted average cost of capital, and the utility may propose an updated weighted average cost of capital.

I. Nothing in this section shall:

1. Be deemed to prevent one or more utilities from jointly filing a Program under this section, and the Commission may consolidate consideration of Programs filed to serve the same qualified economic development site;

2. Otherwise impair or enlarge the powers granted to public service companies by this title;

3. Permit a Program to include conversion of existing retail propane customers to electric or natural gas; or

4. Prohibit an electric utility from recovering its transmission-related costs incurred in implementing the Program through a rate adjustment clause pursuant to subdivision A 4 of § 56-585.1.

J. A utility may request proprietary treatment of any and all supporting materials provided in support of a Program.

2019, cc. 494, 495.

§ 56-236. Public utilities required to file schedules of rates and charges; rules and regulations; when detariffing of telephone services to be permitted.

A. Unless the Commission determines otherwise, every public utility shall be required to file with the Commission and to keep open to public inspection schedules showing rates and charges, either for itself, or joint rates and charges between itself and any other public utility. Every public utility shall file with, and as a part of, such schedules, copies of all rules and regulations that in any manner affect the rates charged or to be charged.

B. The Commission shall permit, but may not mandate, the detariffing of any or all terms, conditions, or rates for (i) any retail telephone service classified by the Commission to be competitive and (ii) any other retail telephone service not found by the Commission prior to January 1, 2011, to be a basic local exchange telephone service.

C. As of July 1, 2013, the Commission shall permit, but may not mandate, the detariffing of any or all terms, conditions, or rates for any or all retail telephone services.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 674; 1924, p. 538; 1927, p. 123; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-236.1. Rates to be charged churches.

No electric utility, subject to regulation by the Commission, shall charge a church for its services by any method other than actual kilowatt hour consumption; nor shall any such electric utility charge a church for its electrical service at a rate in excess of the applicable residential rate for the area in which it is located. As used in this section, "church" shall be limited to the synagogue or church building in which the sanctuary or principal place of worship is located and to all educational buildings which are physically attached by enclosed corridors or hallways to the building in which the sanctuary or principal place of worship is located.

Notwithstanding the requirements of the first sentence of this section, the Commission may, after a hearing upon application by an electric utility, set a rate for churches in excess of the applicable residential rate if the utility proves that the cost of service for churches exceeds the cost of service for those other customers under the residential rate. In setting such a rate, the Commission shall consider the special use characteristics of churches, such as the amount of electricity utilized during off-peak power periods for the utility. The provisions of this section shall not apply to churches which are served by an electric utility having a time of usage rate approved by the Commission and which have elected to be on such time of usage rate.

1978, c. 531; 1980, c. 259.

§ 56-236.2. Suspension of service to sewerage system.

No public utility furnishing heat, light or power to a sewerage system, after receiving notice pursuant to § 56-261 or § 56-265.11:1 from the person operating such system, may suspend service for nonpayment without giving at least ten days' advance notice in writing to the Commission and the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality.

2000, c. 183.

§ 56-237. How changes in rates effected; notice required; changes to be indicated on schedules.

No change shall be made in any schedule required to be filed pursuant to § 56-236, including schedules of joint rates, except after 30 days' notice to the Commission, in such manner as the Commission may require, and to the public, in such manner as prescribed in § 56-237.1, and all such changed rates, tolls, charges, rules, and regulations shall be plainly indicated upon existing schedules or by filing new schedules in lieu thereof not less than 30 days prior to the time the same are to take effect; provided, that the Commission may, in particular cases, authorize or prescribe less time in which changes may be made; and provided further that, in the case of water companies, the notice to the public shall set forth the proposed rates and charges.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 674; 1924, p. 539; 1927, p. 123; 1954, c. 298; 1976, c. 763; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-237.1. Notification of intent to seek rate change in schedules required to be filed under § 56-236.

A. Every public utility, other than a public utility providing water or sewer service, that indicates upon existing required schedules, or upon new schedules required to be filed in lieu thereof, changes in rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations, shall cause to have published, once a week for four successive weeks, in one or more newspapers in circulation in its franchise area and approved by the Commission, a notice of its intention to change its rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations. Every public utility providing water or sewer service that indicates upon existing required schedules, or upon new schedules required to be filed in lieu thereof, changes in rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations, shall cause to have published at least once in one or more newspapers in circulation in its franchise area and approved by the Commission, a notice of its intention to change its rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations. The last such publication shall appear no less than 30 days prior to the time any changed rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations shall take effect. This notice shall be in such form and contain such information as prescribed by the Commission.

B. Every public utility that indicates upon existing required schedules, or upon new schedules required to be filed in lieu thereof, changes in rates, tolls, charges, rules, and regulations shall mail to each of its customers who receive periodic statements of charges by mail or send electronically to each of its customers who receive periodic statements of charges electronically, along with its periodic invoice, bill, or other statement advising the customer of its charges, a notice of its intention to change its rates, tolls, charges, rules, and regulations. This notice shall be mailed or sent electronically no less than 30 days prior to the time any such changed rate, toll, charge, rule, and regulation shall take effect. This notice shall be in such form and contain such information as prescribed by the Commission.

C. Except for public utilities providing water or sewer service, the Commission may dispense with either or both of the requirements contained in subsections A and B if either or both such requirements are not necessary to provide adequate notice to all of the public utilities' customers. The Commission may prescribe additional requirements for notification to a public utility's customers of its intention to change its rates, tolls, charges, rules, and regulations.

1976, c. 763; 2011, cc. 738, 740; 2016, cc. 191, 283.

§ 56-237.2. Public hearings on protests or objections to rate changes.

Whenever pursuant to § 56-237 there shall be filed with the Commission any schedule required to be filed under § 56-236 stating a change of rate, toll or charge and a protest or objection thereto is filed by or on behalf of the lesser of 150 or five percent of the customers or consumers or other persons subject to such rate, toll or charge, the Commission shall upon reasonable notice conduct a public hearing concerning the lawfulness of the proposed rate, toll or charge. At any such hearing involving a change of such rate, toll or charge, the burden of proof shall be upon the applicant therefor to demonstrate that the proposed change is just and reasonable. The Commission shall prescribe all necessary rules and regulations for the conduct of such hearing, which rules shall afford ample opportunity for participation or representation by persons affected by such change.

1977, c. 436; 1995, c. 260; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-238. Suspension of proposed rates, etc.; investigation; effectiveness of rates pending investigation and subject to bond; fixing reasonable rates, etc.

The Commission, either upon complaint or on its own motion, may suspend the enforcement of any or all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations for schedules required to be filed under § 56-236 of any public utility, except an investor-owned electric public utility, for a period not exceeding 150 days, or if the public utility is an investor-owned water utility not subject to Chapter 10.2:1 (§ 56-265.13:1 et seq.) for a period not exceeding 180 days, from the date of filing, and the Commission shall suspend the enforcement of all of the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations of an investor-owned electric public utility until the Commission's final order in the proceeding, during which times the Commission shall investigate the reasonableness or justice of such proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations and thereupon fix and order substituted therefor such rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations as shall be just and reasonable. The Commission's final order in such a proceeding involving an investor-owned electric public utility that is filed after January 1, 2010, shall be entered not more than nine months after the date of filing, at which time the suspension period shall expire, and any revisions in rates or credits so ordered shall take effect not more than 60 days after the date of the order. Notice of the suspension of any such proposed rate, toll, charge, rule or regulation shall be given by the Commission to the public utility, prior to the expiration of the 30 days' notice to the Commission and the public heretofore provided for. If the proceeding has not been concluded and an order made at the expiration of the suspension period, after notice to the Commission by the public utility making the filing, the proposed rates, tolls, charges, rules or regulations shall go into effect. Where increased rates, tolls or charges are thus made effective, the Commission shall, by order, require the public utility to furnish a bond, to be approved by the Commission, to refund any amounts ordered by the Commission, to keep accurate accounts in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, and upon completion of the hearing and decision, to order such public utility to refund, with interest at a rate set by the Commission, the portion of such increased rates, tolls or charges by its decision found not justified. The Commission shall prescribe all necessary rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this section on or before September 1, 1980. This section shall not apply to proceedings conducted pursuant to § 56-245 or 56-249.6.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 674; 1924, p. 539; 1927, p. 123; 1980, c. 446; 2010, cc. 1, 2; 2011, cc. 738, 740; 2017, c. 619.

§ 56-239. Appeal from action of Commission.

The public utility whose schedules shall have been so filed or the Commonwealth or other party in interest or party aggrieved may appeal to the Supreme Court from such decision or order as the Commission may finally enter. 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 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 of the order appealed from by 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 utility, 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 thereof. 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 State.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 674; 1924, p. 539; 1927, p. 124; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 31.

§ 56-240. Proposed rates, etc., or changes thereof, not suspended effective subject to later change by Commission; refund or credit; appeal; investor-owned public utilities required to show increase complies with § 56-235.2.

Unless the Commission so suspends such schedule of rates, tolls, charges, rules and regulations or changes thereof that are required to be filed under § 56-236, the same shall go into effect as originally filed by any public utility as defined in § 56-232, upon the date specified in the schedule subject, however, to the power of the Commission, upon investigation thereafter, to fix and order substituted therefor such rate or rates, tolls, charges, rules, or regulations, as shall be just and reasonable, as provided in §§ 56-235 and 56-247. The Commission may thereupon, in its discretion, order such public utility to refund or give credit promptly to the parties entitled thereto any portion or all of the charges originally filed by the public utility which may have been collected or received in excess of those charges finally fixed and ordered substituted therefor by the Commission. Rates of any utility found to be operating in violation of § 56-265.3 may be deemed subject to refund by the Commission, on its own motion, as of the date of the Commission's order finding that the utility was operating in violation of § 56-265.3. Such rates shall then be interim in nature and subject to refund until such time as the Commission has determined the appropriateness of the rates. Any amount of the rates found excessive by the Commission shall be subject to refund with interest, as may be ordered by the Commission.

From any action of the Commission in prescribing rates, refunds, credits, tolls, charges, rules and regulations or changes thereof that are required to be filed under § 56-236, an appeal may be taken by the corporation whose rates, refunds, credits, tolls, charges, rules and regulations or changes thereof are affected, or by the Commonwealth, or by any person deeming himself aggrieved by such action.

No such rate increase shall go into effect under the provisions of this section for an investor-owned gas, telephone or electric public utility unless such public utility has filed with its schedule information and data designed to show that any increase complies with the just and reasonable requirements of § 56-235.2, and unless based thereon the Commission finds a reasonable probability that the increase will be justified upon full investigation and hearing. The Commission is authorized to promulgate any rules necessary to implement this provision.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 675; 1924, p. 540; 1927, pp. 124, 125; 1971 Ex. Sess., c. 31; 1973, c. 262; 1979, c. 249; 1998, c. 63; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-241. Rates of telephone companies.

The power of the Commission over the rates of telephone companies shall be as defined (i) by this chapter or (ii) by § 56-481.1.

Code 1919, § 4066; 1918, p. 676; 1924, p. 540; 1927, p. 125; 1964, c. 195; 1973, c. 262; 1984, c. 721; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-241.1. Flat and measured telephone rates; certain rates prohibited.

Every telephone company which offers dial tone line or substantially equivalent local service shall offer to its residential and business customers at least one offering of such service consisting of a single dial tone line, including associated usage, for the purpose of two-way voice communications within a local calling area at a flat rate unless there was no telephone company offering such a class of service at a flat rate in the local calling area on January 1, 1979. No residential or business customer shall be forced to accept local measured rate service for calling within a local calling area based on the number of calls, length of call, distance or time of day, not in effect on January 1, 1979. Nothing contained herein shall prohibit the Commission from approving the voluntary tariff of any telephone company based on the number of calls, length of call, distance or time of day.

1979, c. 91; 1985, c. 389; 1996, c. 378.

§ 56-241.2. Approval of rates for resale of telephone service.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 56-241.1, the Commission may approve a mandatory tariff based only on the number of calls for any telephone company if such tariff is limited to the rates charged for the resale of local business service or for the providing of coin telephone service by a person other than the telephone company.

1985, c. 389.

§ 56-242. Temporary reduction of rates.

Whenever the Commission, pending an investigation had upon its own motion, or upon complaint, is of the opinion and so finds after an examination of any report or reports, annual or otherwise, filed with the Commission by any public utility, together with any other facts or information which the Commission may acquire or receive from an investigation of the books, records, or papers, or from an inspection of the property of such public utility, that the net income of such public utility, after reasonable deductions for depreciation and other proper and necessary reserves, is in excess of the amount required for a reasonable return upon the value of such public utility's property, used and useful in rendering its service to the public, and if the Commission is of the opinion and so finds in such cause that a hearing to determine all of the issues involved in a final determination of rates of service will require more than ninety days of elapsed time, the Commission may, in case of such emergency, enter a temporary order, after not less than ten days' notice to such public utility of its contemplated action and affording to it reasonable opportunity to introduce evidence and to be heard thereon, fixing a temporary schedule of rates, which order shall be forthwith binding upon such public utility. But the Commission's power to order reductions in rates and charges of any public utility by means of such a temporary order, is limited to reductions which will absorb not more than the amount found by the Commission to be in excess of the amount of income, as determined by the Commission, necessary to provide a reasonable return on the value of the property of such public utility as found by the Commission as aforesaid.

1934, p. 365; Michie Code 1942, § 4071a.

§ 56-243. Duration of such temporary reduction.

No temporary order made under § 56-242 shall remain in force or effect for a longer period than nine months from its effective date, and a further period not to exceed three months in addition if so ordered by the Commission.

1934, p. 366; Michie Code 1942, § 4071a.

§ 56-244. Increase to make up for losses due to excessive temporary reduction.

If upon a final disposition of the issues involved in a proceeding mentioned in § 56-242, the rates or charges as finally determined by the Commission, or the court having jurisdiction of the subject matter, are in excess of the rates and charges prescribed in any temporary order issued in such proceeding, then such public utility shall be permitted, over such reasonable time as the Commission shall fix, to amortize and recover, by means of a temporary increase over and above the rates and charges finally determined, such sum as shall represent the difference between the gross income obtained from the rates and charges prescribed in such temporary reduction order, and the gross income which would have obtained, during the period such temporary reduction order was in effect, based upon the same volume, from the rates and charges finally determined.

1934, p. 366; Michie Code 1942, § 4071a.

§ 56-245. Temporary increase in rates.

Whenever the Commission, upon petition of any public utility, is of the opinion and so finds, after an examination of the reports, annual or otherwise, filed with the Commission by such public utility, together with any other facts or information which the Commission may acquire or receive from an investigation of the books, records or papers, or from an inspection of the property of such public utility, or upon evidence introduced by such public utility, that an emergency exists, and that the public utility has made a preliminary showing of all the elements of § 56-235.2 sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable probability that the increase will be justified upon full investigation and hearing and is of the opinion and so finds that a hearing to determine all of the issues involved in the final determination of the rates or service will require more than ninety days of elapsed time, the Commission may, in case of such emergency, enter a temporary order fixing a temporary schedule of rates, which order shall be forthwith binding upon such utility and its customers; provided, however, that when the Commission orders an increase in the rates or charges of any public utility by means of such temporary order, it shall require such utility to enter into bond in such amount and with such security as the Commission shall approve, payable to the Commonwealth, and conditioned to insure prompt refund by such public utility, to those entitled thereto, of all amounts which such public utility shall collect or receive in excess of such rates and charges as may be finally fixed and determined by the Commission; and provided, further, however, that no such temporary order shall remain in force or effect for a longer period than nine months from its effective date, and a further period not to exceed three months in addition if so ordered by the Commission.

1934, p. 366; Michie Code 1942, § 4071a; 1973, c. 262; 1977, c. 336.

§ 56-245.1. Meters to be kept in good working condition; defective meters.

(1) Any person, firm, corporation, county, city, town or association, hereinafter referred to as person, who or which furnishes water, gas or electricity to the premises of another and employs a meter to determine the quantity of water, gas or electricity furnished to such premises and bases its charges thereon shall keep meter in good working condition.

(2) When any such person is notified in writing that any such meter is broken or not functioning properly he shall promptly investigate the matter and, if the meter is found to be defective, repair or replace the meter within thirty days of such notice. If the meter is found to be in good working condition, a written report of such determination shall be mailed or delivered to the affected customer within thirty days of such notice. If any defective meter is not repaired or replaced as provided herein, or if the required report is not made, the affected customer shall not be required to pay for the service furnished through the meter, after the expiration of the thirty-day period until the repair or replacement is made, or until the required report is made, and his service shall not be terminated for failure to pay under such circumstances.

1972, c. 71.

§ 56-245.1:1. Customers to be notified about nuclear emergency evacuation plans.

At least once in every calendar year after July 1, 1980, each electric public utility which owns, operates or maintains a nuclear generating facility in the Commonwealth shall publish in a newspaper having general circulation within a ten-mile radius of such facility, a statement or notice prepared or approved by the Department of Emergency Management setting forth the evacuation and other protective actions to be taken by persons or concerns located within such ten-mile radius, in the event of a nuclear radiation emergency resulting from the maintenance, operation or failure of such nuclear facility. After the publication of the first statement or notice required hereby, subsequent statements or notices shall be published at time intervals not exceeding twelve months. The provisions hereof shall not be effective when federal laws or regulations providing for yearly dissemination of similar information to members of the public located within a ten-mile radius of any such nuclear generating facility take effect.

1980, c. 734.

§ 56-245.1:2. Customers to be notified of renewable power options.

A. The Commission shall post on its website the names, telephone numbers, and available hyperlinks of suppliers of electric energy licensed to sell retail electric energy pursuant to § 56-587, that (i) expressly state in their applications for licensure, or for any renewal thereof, that they offer electric energy supplied from renewable energy to retail customers in the Commonwealth as described in subdivision A 5 of § 56-577 and (ii) request in any such applications that they be identified on the Commission's website as making such offers. Provided, however, that by posting such information on its website, the Commission shall not be deemed to provide any guarantees or assurances concerning the bona fides of such offers or that any such offers are in conformance with the laws of the Commonwealth.

B. At least once each calendar quarter, each investor-owned electric utility in the Commonwealth shall include in or on the customer bills a notice directing them to the Commission website described in subsection A. Each investor-owned electric utility shall also feature available options for purchasing electric energy from renewable sources offered by the utility prominently on its website.

2008, c. 518; 2016, cc. 248, 259.

Article 2.1. Regulation of Submetering and Energy Allocation Equipment.

§ 56-245.2. Definitions.

A. When used in this article, unless expressly stated otherwise:

"Apartment house" means a building or buildings with the primary purpose of residential occupancy containing more than two dwelling units all of which are rented primarily for nontransient use, with rental paid at intervals of one week or longer. Apartment house includes residential condominiums and cooperatives, whether rented or owner occupied.

"Campground" means the same as the term is defined in § 35.1-1.

"Campsite" means that same as that term is defined in § 35.1-1.

"Dwelling unit" means a room or rooms suitable for occupancy as a residence containing kitchen and bathroom facilities.

"Energy allocation equipment" means any device, other than submetering equipment, used to determine approximate electric or natural gas usage for any dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit within an apartment house, office building or shopping center, or campsite at a campground.

"Nonresidential rental unit" means a room or rooms in which retail or commercial services, clerical work or professional duties are carried out.

"Office building" means a building or buildings containing more than two rental units which are rented primarily for retail, commercial or professional use, with rental paid at intervals of one month or longer.

"Owner-paid areas" means those areas for which the owner bears financial responsibility for energy costs which include but are not limited to areas outside individual residential or nonresidential units or campsites or in owner-occupied or owner-shared areas such as maintenance shops, vacant units, meeting units, meeting rooms, offices, swimming pools, laundry rooms, or model apartments.

"Shopping center" means a building or buildings containing more than two stores which are rented primarily for commercial, retail or professional use.

"Submetering equipment" means equipment used to measure actual electricity or natural gas usage in any dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit or campsite when such equipment is not owned or controlled by the electric or natural gas utility serving the apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground in which the dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit or campsite is located.

B. Any building or buildings which qualify as an apartment house, office building, or shopping center shall not be excluded from § 56-245.3 because the apartment house, office building or shopping center contains a mixture of dwelling units and nonresidential rental units.

1978, c. 392; 1979, c. 313; 1992, c. 766; 2012, c. 338.

§ 56-245.3. Commission to promulgate regulations and standards.

A. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the Commission shall promulgate regulations and standards under which any owner, operator, or manager of an apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground, which is not individually metered for electricity or gas for each dwelling unit, nonresidential rental unit, or campsite may install submetering equipment or energy allocation equipment for the purpose of fairly allocating (a) the cost of electrical or gas consumption for each dwelling unit, nonresidential rental unit, or campsite and (b) electrical or gas demand and customer charges made by the utility. In addition to other appropriate safeguards for the tenant, the regulations shall require (i) that an apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground owner shall not impose on the tenant any charges, over and above the cost per kilowatt hour, cubic foot or therm, plus demand and customer charges, where applicable, which are charged by the utility company to the owner, including any sales, local utility, or other taxes, if any, except that additional service charges permitted by § 55.1-1212 or 55.1-1404, as applicable, may be collected to cover administrative costs and billing, and (ii) that the apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground owner shall maintain adequate records regarding submetering and energy allocation equipment and shall make such records available for inspection by the Commission during reasonable business hours. The provisions of this section shall not restrict the right of the owner, operator or manager to recover in periodic lease payments the tenant's fair share of electricity or gas costs attributable to owner-paid areas and costs incurred by the owner, operator or manager in establishing and maintaining the submetering or energy allocation equipment.

B. Only for purposes of Commission enforcement of the regulations adopted under this section, the owners, operators, or managers of apartment houses, office buildings, shopping centers, or campgrounds included within the purview of this article shall be treated as public service corporations under §§ 56-5, 56-6 and 56-7. All submetering equipment shall be subject to the same regulations and standards established by the Commission for accuracy, testing, and record keeping of meters installed by electric or gas utilities and shall be subject to the meter requirements of § 56-245.1. All energy allocation equipment shall be subject to regulations and standards established by the Commission to ensure that such systems result in a reasonable determination of energy use and the resulting costs for each dwelling unit, nonresidential rental unit, or campsite. Violations of Commission regulations and orders issued under this section shall be subject to the penalty set forth in § 12.1-33.

C. In implementing this section, no apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground shall be considered a public utility or public service corporation engaged in the business of distributing or reselling electricity or gas except as provided in subsection B. The apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground may use submetering or energy allocation equipment solely to allocate the costs of electric or gas service fairly among the tenants using the apartment house, office building, shopping center, or campground.

1978, c. 392; 1979, c. 313; 1980, c. 741; 1986, c. 11; 1988, c. 231; 1989, c. 188; 1991, c. 573; 1992, c. 766; 2003, c. 355; 2012, c. 338.

Article 3. Powers of Commission in Relation to Service.

§ 56-246. Tests and equipment therefor.

The Commission may purchase such materials, apparatus and standard measuring instruments for such examinations and tests as it may deem necessary, and may provide for the examinations and testing of the service or any part thereof of any public utility in this Commonwealth at such time and under such circumstances as the Commission may deem best.

Code 1919, § 4069.

§ 56-247. Commission may change regulations, measurements, practices, services, or acts.

If upon investigation it shall be found that any regulation, measurement, practice, act or service of any public utility complained of is unjust, unreasonable, insufficient, preferential, unjustly discriminatory or otherwise in violation of law or if it be found that any service is inadequate or that any reasonable service cannot be obtained, the Commission may substitute therefor such other regulations, measurements, practices, service or acts and make such order respecting, and such changes in, such regulations, measurements, practices, service or acts as shall be just and reasonable.

The Commission shall investigate the promotional allowances and practices of public utilities and shall take such action as such investigation may indicate to be in the public interest.

Code 1919, § 4072; 1966, c. 552.

§ 56-247.1. Commission to require public utilities to follow certain procedures.

A. The Commission shall require that public utilities adhere to the following procedures for services not found to be competitive:

1. Every public utility shall provide its residential customers one full billing period to pay for one month's local or basic services, before initiating any proceeding against a residential customer for nonpayment of local service.

2. Pay the residential customer a fair rate of interest as determined by the Commission on money deposited and return the deposit with the interest after not more than one year of satisfactory credit has been established.

3. Every public utility shall establish customer complaint procedures that will ensure prompt and effective handling of all customer inquiries, service requests, and complaints. Such procedure shall be approved by the Commission before its implementation and it shall be distributed to its residential customers. The utility shall disclose to the customer that the Commission is the responsible regulatory agency and that the customer may contact the Commission on regulatory matters and provide the customer with the contact information for the Commission.

4. No electric or gas utility shall terminate a customer's service without 10 days' notice by mail to the customer.

5. No public utility shall terminate the residential service of a customer for such customer's nonpayment of basic nonresidential services as defined by its terms and conditions on file with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

6. A public utility providing water service shall not terminate service for nonpayment until it first sends the customer written notice by mail 10 days in advance of making the termination but, in no event, shall it terminate the customer's service until 20 days after the customer's bill has become due. Any such notice shall also include contact information for the customer's use in contacting the public utility regarding the notice.

7. Any electric utility formed under or subject to Chapter 9.1 (§ 56-231.15 et seq.) may install and operate, upon a customer's request and pursuant to an appropriate tariff for any type or classification of service, a prepaid metering equipment and system that is configured to terminate electric service immediately and automatically when the customer has incurred charges for electric service equal to the customer's prepayments for such service. Subdivisions 1, 2, 4, and 5 shall not apply to services provided pursuant to electric service provided on a prepaid basis by a prepaid metering equipment and system pursuant to this subsection. Such tariffs shall be filed with the Commission for its review and determination that the tariff is not contrary to the public interest.

8. No electric utility shall terminate the residential service of a customer for such customer's nonpayment for metered services when the electric utility believes that the customer is receiving or has received electric utility services for which the customer was not properly billed as the result of tampering with the electric utility's meter in a manner that prevented the meter from accurately recording usage, until the electric utility has complied with the procedure set forth in subsection C. However, the requirement that the electric utility comply with the procedure set forth in subsection C before terminating service shall not apply if (i) the condition of a customer's wiring, equipment, or appliances is either unsafe or unsuitable for receiving the electric utility service; (ii) the customer's use of the electric utility service or equipment interferes with or may be detrimental to the electric utility's facilities or to the provision of electric utility service by the electric utility to any other customer; (iii) a tamper-evident meter seal securing the meter is broken, damaged, or missing; (iv) electric service is furnished over a line that is not owned or leased by the electric utility and the line is either not in a safe and suitable condition or is inadequate to receive electric utility service; (v) emergency repairs or alterations are needed; (vi) there are unavoidable shortages or interruptions in a supply of utility service; (vii) the electric utility is acting upon orders from an authority having jurisdiction; or (viii) the actions taken are to preserve life or property, or to avoid or abate utility or fire hazard.

B. Any and all Commission rules and regulations concerning the denial of telephone service for nonpayment of such service shall not apply to services found to be competitive.

C. If an electric utility believes that a customer is receiving or has received electric utility services for which the customer was not properly billed as the result of tampering with the electric utility's meter in a manner that prevented the meter from accurately recording usage, the electric utility shall (i) retrieve the meter from the customer's premises, which may be done without providing prior notice to the customer; (ii) immediately replace it with a new meter; and (iii) determine whether the meter has been tampered with. Within 60 days after any such determination of meter tampering has been made, the electric utility shall provide evidence of such tampering to the customer. If, after determining the meter has been tampered with, the electric utility seeks payment for electric utility services not properly billed, the electric utility shall provide the customer with an invoice with a reasonable and final estimate of the amount owed by the customer as a result of the meter's failure to accurately record the customer's usage. The invoice shall explain the electric utility's calculation of the estimated amount owed as a result of any suspected failure. The electric utility shall provide the customer one full billing period to pay the amount billed in such invoice before initiating any proceeding against the customer for nonpayment. During such billing period, the customer may submit an informal complaint to the Commission disputing the amount sought by the utility. The customer may commence a formal proceeding after the informal complaint process has been exhausted in accordance with Commission regulations.

1976, c. 738; 1977, c. 59; 1980, c. 415; 2010, c. 320; 2011, cc. 500, 738, 740; 2020, c. 668.

§ 56-248. Commission to prescribe standard units of products or service.

The Commission shall ascertain and prescribe for each kind of public utility suitable standard commercial units of products or service. This section shall not apply to telephone companies.

Code 1919, § 4070; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-248.1. Commission to monitor fuel prices and utility fuel purchases; fuel price index.

A. The Commission shall monitor all fuel purchases, transportation costs, and contracts for such purchases of a utility to ascertain that all feasible economies are being utilized. Subject to the provisions of § 56-234, the Commission shall allow natural gas utilities to include in their fuel portfolios supplemental or substitute forms of gas sources that meet the natural gas utility's pipeline quality gas standards and that reduce the emissions intensity of its fuel portfolio. A natural gas utility shall procure supplemental or substitute forms of gas sources utilizing standard industry practices and shall report to the Commission annually the imputed reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent resulting from such purchasing practices.

B. As used in this section:

"Biogas" means a mixture of hydrocarbons that is a gas at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and one atmosphere of pressure that is produced through the anaerobic digestion or thermal conversion of organic matter.

"Low-emission natural gas" means natural gas produced from a geologic source that has a methane intensity of 0.20 or less (i) as reported under a protocol approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Gas STAR Methane Challenge, (ii) as certified by the United Nations Environment Programme's Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0, or (iii) as validated under a Qualified Attribute Commodities Platform.

"Methane intensity" means the methane emissions assigned to natural gas on an energy basis divided by the total methane content of produced natural gas.

"Qualified Attribute Commodities Platform" means a trading mechanism for natural gas or natural gas attributes that are nonfinancial intangible commodities that represents, packages, and certifies the qualifying attributes of an amount of low-emission natural gas. A Qualified Attribute Commodities Platform provides validation by an independent third party, provides natural gas or natural gas attributes capable of bilateral or exchange contract trading pursuant to standardized contracts for physical delivery that reasonably eliminate validation risk, and provides transparency for audit and reporting purposes.

"Supplemental or substitute forms of gas sources" means (i) low-emission natural gas, (ii) biogas, or (iii) hydrogen.

C. In addition, the Commission shall establish a fuel price index in order to compare the prices paid for the various types of fuel by Virginia utilities with the average price of the various types of fuel paid by other public utilities at comparable geographic locations in the market.

D. This section shall not apply to telephone companies.

1976, c. 507; 1982, c. 107; 2011, cc. 738, 740; 2022, cc. 728, 759.

§ 56-249. Reports by utilities.

The Commission, with or without an investigation, may require any public utility to furnish to it in such form, at such times, and in such detail as the Commission shall require, such accounts, reports and other information of whatsoever kind or character as it may deem proper and in such form and detail as it may prescribe, in order to show completely the entire operation of the public utility in furnishing the unit of its product or service to the public.

Code 1919, § 4070.

§ 56-249.1. Commission may require transfer of gas, water or electricity by one utility to another; compensation.

The Commission may require a public utility to transfer to another public utility of like business, gas, water or electricity, whenever the public health, welfare or safety shall be found to so require; provided, however, that the transferring public utility shall be compensated, at a rate fixed by the Commission, for all such deliveries by the receiving public utility.

1975, c. 358.

§ 56-249.2. Certain records to be maintained.

All public utilities doing business in the Commonwealth that file a rate of return statement shall, on and after January 1, 1977, or the beginning of the next fiscal year of the public utility after such date, maintain all records necessary to prepare and submit annually a rate of return statement reflecting that part of its total business under regulation of the Commission.

1976, c. 742; 1979, c. 617; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-249.3. Certain electric utilities to file reports in relation to fuel transactions, fuel purchases, fuel adjustment clauses, etc.

The Commission shall require that public electric utilities, owning and operating generating facilities, or privately owned utilities purchasing power at wholesale for retail sales within this State, file monthly with the Commission for its review such information as it may deem necessary, which may include the following:

1. The various types of fuels received such as coal, oil, nuclear fuel or natural gas;

2. The following information on fossil fuels:

a. The supplier of the fossil fuel, the cost in cents per MBTU of the fuel, with a notation of whether the fuel was contracted for, purchased on the spot market or purchased from an affiliate of the electric utility;

b. The quantities of the various types of fossil fuels received stated in tons of coal, barrels of oil, millions of cubic feet of natural gas;

c. The average BTU content per pound, gallon or cubic foot received, whichever is applicable;

d. The average sulfur and ash content, where applicable, of the fuel received;

3. Total demurrage charges incurred at each generating plant;

4. Total cost of transportation incurred at each generating plant;

5. The quantity of fuel consumed by each generation unit in the generating plant;

6. The average cost of the fossil and nuclear fuel in cents per MBTU's consumed at each plant with and without handling charges;

7. The monthly net heat rate expressed in BTU's per kilowatt-hour for each generating unit;

8. The kilowatt-hour output delivered into the system on a monthly basis;

9. The monthly net kilowatt-hour interchange; and

10. The monthly system kilowatt-hour sales.

1977, c. 125; 1979, c. 617.

§ 56-249.4. How reports shall be filed; reports open to public; rules and regulations.

A. The information filed pursuant to § 56-249.3 shall be filed with the Commission in affidavit form within forty-five days following the close of the reference month.

B. All such information and reports filed pursuant to this section and § 56-249.3 shall be open to the public and available for inspection.

C. The Commission shall promulgate all rules and regulations necessary to implement this section and § 56-249.3.

1977, c. 125; 1982, c. 107.

§ 56-249.5. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1979, c. 492.

§ 56-249.6. Recovery of fuel and purchased power costs.

A. 1. Each electric utility that purchases fuel for the generation of electricity or purchases power and that was not, as of July 1, 1999, bound by a rate case settlement adopted by the Commission that extended in its application beyond January 1, 2002, shall submit to the Commission its estimate of fuel costs, including the cost of purchased power, for the 12-month period beginning on the date prescribed by the Commission. Upon investigation of such estimates and hearings in accordance with law, the Commission shall direct each company to place in effect tariff provisions designed to recover the fuel costs determined by the Commission to be appropriate for that period, adjusted for any over-recovery or under-recovery of fuel costs previously incurred.

2. The Commission shall continuously review fuel costs and if it finds that any utility described in subdivision A 1 is in an over-recovery position by more than five percent, or likely to be so, it may reduce the fuel cost tariffs to correct the over-recovery.

3. Beginning July 1, 2009, for all utilities described in subdivision A 1 and subsection B, if the Commission approves any increase in fuel factor charges pursuant to this section that would increase the total rates of the residential class of customers of any such utility by more than 20 percent, the Commission, within six months following the effective date of such increase, shall review fuel costs, and if the Commission finds that the utility is, or is likely to be, in an over-recovery position with respect to fuel costs for the 12-month period for which the increase in fuel factor charges was approved by more than five percent, it may reduce the utility's fuel cost tariffs to correct the over-recovery.

B. All fuel costs recovery tariff provisions in effect on January 1, 2004, for any electric utility that purchases fuel for the generation of electricity and that was, as of July 1, 1999, bound by a rate case settlement adopted by the Commission that extended in its application beyond January 1, 2002, shall remain in effect until the later of (i) July 1, 2007 or (ii) the establishment of tariff provisions under subsection C. Any such utility shall continue to report to the Commission annually its actual fuel costs, including the cost of purchased power.

C. Each electric utility described in subsection B shall submit annually to the Commission its estimate of fuel costs, including the cost of purchased power, for successive 12-month periods beginning on July 1, 2007, and each July 1 thereafter. Upon investigation of such estimates and hearings in accordance with law, the Commission shall direct each such utility to place in effect tariff provisions designed to recover the fuel costs determined by the Commission to be appropriate for such periods, adjusted for any over-recovery or under-recovery of fuel costs previously incurred; however, (i) no such adjustment for any over-recovery or under-recovery of fuel costs previously incurred shall be made for any period prior to July 1, 2007, and (ii) the Commission shall order that the deferral portion, if any, of the total increase in fuel tariffs for all classes as determined by the Commission to be appropriate for the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2007, above the fuel tariffs previously existing, shall be deferred without interest and recovered from all classes of customers as follows: (i) in the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2008, that part of the deferral portion of the increase in fuel tariffs that the Commission determines would increase the total rates of the residential class of customers of the utility by four percent over the level of such total rates in existence on June 30, 2008, shall be recovered; (ii) in the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2009, that part of the balance of the deferral portion of the increase in fuel tariffs, if any, that the Commission determines would increase the total rates of the residential class of customers of the utility by four percent over the level of such total rates in existence on June 30, 2009, shall be recovered; and (iii) in the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2010, the entire balance of the deferral portion of the increase in fuel tariffs, if any, shall be recovered. The "deferral portion of the increase in fuel tariffs" means the portion of such increase in fuel tariffs that exceeds the amount of such increase in fuel tariffs that the Commission determines would increase the total rates of the residential class of customers of the utility by more than four percent over the level of such total rates in existence on June 30, 2007.

D. In proceedings under subsections A and C:

1. Energy revenues associated with off-system sales of power shall be credited against fuel factor expenses in an amount equal to the total incremental fuel factor costs incurred in the production and delivery of such sales. In addition, 75 percent of the total annual margins from off-system sales shall be credited against fuel factor expenses; however, the Commission, upon application and after notice and opportunity for hearing, may require that a smaller percentage of such margins be so credited if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that such requirement is in the public interest. The remaining margins from off-system sales shall not be considered in the biennial reviews of electric utilities conducted pursuant to § 56-585.1. In the event such margins result in a net loss to the electric utility, (i) no charges shall be applied to fuel factor expenses and (ii) any such net losses shall not be considered in the biennial reviews of electric utilities conducted pursuant to § 56-585.1. For purposes of this subsection, "margins from off-system sales" shall mean the total revenues received from off-system sales transactions less the total incremental costs incurred; and

2. The Commission shall disallow recovery of any fuel costs that it finds without just cause to be the result of failure of the utility to make every reasonable effort to minimize fuel costs or any decision of the utility resulting in unreasonable fuel costs, giving due regard to reliability of service and the need to maintain reliable sources of supply, economical generation mix, generating experience of comparable facilities, and minimization of the total cost of providing service.

In any proceeding for the recovery of fuel costs under this subdivision in which the costs a utility seeks to recover include costs incurred under a natural gas capacity contract for a term of more than 10 years that procures more than 250,000 dekatherms per day that has not previously been subject to a review under this subdivision, the Commission shall require the utility to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the utility has (i) determined that the utility cannot meet its service obligations, giving due regard, in the Commission's sole discretion, to reliability of service and the need to maintain reliable sources of supply, without an additional fuel resource; (ii) reasonably identified and determined the date and amount of the new fuel resource it needs; (iii) objectively studied available alternative fuel resource options, as verified by the Commission, including options other than a new natural gas capacity contract or contracts to meet the identified and determined need; and (iv) determined that the natural gas capacity contract or contracts are the lowest-cost available option, taking into consideration fixed and variable costs and a reasonable projection of utilization. Absent the Commission's finding that the utility has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the utility had complied with the requirements of clauses (i), (ii), (iii), and (iv), the Commission shall deny the utility's recovery of such costs. Nothing in this subdivision shall limit the Commission's discretion to review and make a determination as to the reasonableness of the recovery by a utility of costs, including costs incurred under a natural gas capacity contract, that were previously subject to a review under this subdivision.

E. The Commission is authorized to promulgate, in accordance with the provisions of this section, all rules and regulations necessary to allow the recovery by electric utilities of all of their prudently incurred fuel costs under subsections A and C, including the cost of purchased power, as precisely and promptly as possible, with no over-recovery or under-recovery, except as provided in subsection C, in a manner that will tend to assure public confidence and minimize abrupt changes in charges to consumers.

1978, c. 636; 1979, c. 492; 1980, c. 384; 1982, c. 584; 1984, cc. 716, 725; 1989, c. 666; 2004, c. 827; 2006, c. 939; 2007, cc. 888, 933; 2009, c. 244; 2020, c. 661.

§ 56-249.7. Certain directors and officers of utility to file shareholder information.

The directors and officers of any public utility as defined in § 56-232 shall file with the Commission a record of all officers and directorships and all sources of income in excess of $25,000 per year arising from voting securities in all other corporations which to the knowledge of the director or officer furnishes fuel with a value in excess of $50,000 per year to the public utility. Such records for the past year shall be filed or made current on or before September 1 of each year.

1985, c. 522.

§ 56-250. Commission may authorize action by public utility in time of emergency or shortage; plans.

(1) Whenever it shall appear by satisfactory evidence that any public utility furnishing in this State power, heat, light or water cannot supply all of its customers the usual requirements of each by reason of strikes, accidents, want of fuel, or for any other reason, the Commission may authorize such public utility to take such action as, in the opinion of the Commission, will minimize adverse impact on the public health and safety and facilitate restoration of normal service to all customers at the earliest time practicable.

(2) To facilitate implementation of this section, the Commission may require any such public utility to file, as a part of the rules and regulations referred to in § 56-236, its plan for curtailment of service in such a condition of emergency or shortage. Such plans shall be considered and shall take effect in the manner provided in this chapter for the schedules of rates and charges and rules and regulations of public utilities.

1920, p. 232; Michie Code 1942, § 4072a; 1974, c. 478; 1975, c. 358.

§ 56-251. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1974, c. 478.

§ 56-253. Existing remedies retained.

Nothing contained in this chapter shall in any way abridge or alter the remedies at common law, in equity, or by statute, but the provisions hereof shall be deemed to be in addition to such remedies.

Code 1919, § 4073.

Article 4. Sale of Plants; Extensions; General Powers of Companies.

§ 56-254. Sale or lease of plants to cities or towns.

The board of directors of any public service corporation operating a gas, electric or water plant within the limits of any city or town, or within territory contiguous thereto, is hereby authorized to sell or lease to such city or town the entire plant of such corporation, or any part thereof, including the franchises and easements of such corporation; provided the action of the board of directors be authorized or ratified by an affirmative vote of a majority in interest of the stock issued and outstanding of such corporation, unless a larger interest is required by the charter or bylaws of such corporation.

1918, p. 463; Michie Code 1942, § 4073g.

§ 56-255. Extension of electric service to territory not being served.

If, from any rural territory not now being served, application be made to the Commission by a group of five or more persons, natural or artificial, to require an extension of electric service to such territory, the Commission shall, if necessary to accomplish the purposes sought, fix a time for hearing such application, on such terms and conditions as the Commission may prescribe, and, if it be established to the satisfaction of the Commission that a proper guaranteed revenue for a sufficient number of years will accrue to any company which may be required to construct the desired extension, and that a reasonable investment will accrue to the company constructing such extension, then the Commission is hereby authorized and empowered to require the nearest or most advantageously located electric utility company to such territory to construct such extension to such point or points in such territory and to serve such customer or customers therein, as in its judgment is right and proper.

1936, p. 1056; Michie Code 1942, § 4057(24).

§ 56-256. Powers of corporations generally; rights, powers, privileges and immunities, etc.

Every corporation organized for the purpose of: (1) constructing, maintaining, and operating an electric railway, or works, (2) supplying and distributing electricity for light, heat, or power, (3) producing, distributing, and selling steam, heat, or power, or compressed air, (4) producing, distributing and selling gas made of coal or other materials, (5) furnishing and distributing a water supply to any city or town, or (6) piping cold air outside of its plant, or (7) constructing and maintaining any public viaduct, bridge or conduit, shall, in addition to the powers conferred upon corporations generally, have all the rights, powers, privileges, and immunities, and be subject to all the rules, regulations, restrictions, pains, and penalties prescribed by §§ 56-458, 56-459 to 56-462, 56-466, 56-467 and 56-484, which sections shall apply to, and as far as practicable, operate upon the corporations mentioned in this section, unless otherwise provided.

Code 1919, §§ 4058, 4061.

§ 56-256.1. Height of electric power distribution lines over agricultural land.

Unless placement at a greater height is required pursuant to § 56-466 or other applicable law, any electric distribution line that is installed, either as a new line or as a replacement for an existing line, on or after July 1, 2018, by or for an electric utility upon or over land upon which agricultural operations, as defined in § 3.2-300, are conducted shall be placed at a height that is not less than the minimum height requirement that applies to the placement of electric distribution lines above road crossings.

2018, c. 354.

Article 5. Pipelines and Other Works.

§ 56-257. Manner of installing underground utility lines.

A. Every operator, as defined in § 56-265.15, having the right to install underground utility lines, as defined in § 56-265.15, except interstate gas pipelines subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, shall install such underground utility lines in accordance with accepted industry standards. Such standards shall include, as applicable, standards established by the National Electric Safety Code, the Commission's pipeline safety regulations, the Department of Health's waterworks regulations (12VAC5-590-10 et seq.), and standards established by the Utility Industry Coalition of Virginia.

B. The Commission shall promulgate any rules or regulations necessary to enforce the provisions of this section as to those operators that do not comply with such accepted industry standards.

C. This section shall not authorize the Commission to order action by, or impose penalties on, any county, city or town. However, the Commission shall inform counties, cities and towns of alleged violations by the locality of the accepted industry standards or regulations adopted under this section and, at the request of the locality, suggest corrective action.

Code 1919, § 4059; 1996, c. 278; 2000, c. 779.

§ 56-257.1. Means of locating nonmetallic underground conduits.

Any plastic or other nonmetallic pressurized conduit installed underground on and after July 1, 1976, shall have affixed thereto a wire conductive of electricity or some other means of locating the conduit while it is underground.

1976, c. 556.

§ 56-257.2. Gas pipeline safety.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commission shall have the authority to regulate the safety of master-metered gas systems, landfill gas transmission or distribution facilities transmitting or distributing landfill gas off premises from a solid waste management facility permitted by the Department of Environmental Quality, and other gas pipeline facilities used in intrastate pipeline transportation, all as defined in the federal regulations promulgated under 49 U.S.C. § 60101 et seq., as amended, and the federal pipeline safety laws, owned or operated by any person, limited liability company, business entity or association of individuals. The authority granted herein shall be exercised in a manner that is not inconsistent with the above-referenced federal regulations and pipeline safety laws.

This subsection shall not apply to gas systems and pipeline facilities owned or operated by any county, city, or town.

B. For the purposes of pipeline facilities used in the intrastate transportation of gas, all as defined in the federal regulations promulgated under 49 U.S.C. § 60101 et seq., as amended, and the federal pipeline safety laws, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person, limited liability company, business entity or association of individuals failing or refusing to obey Commission orders relating to the adoption or enforcement of regulations for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of intrastate pipeline facilities and temporary or permanent injunctions issued by the Commission shall be fined such sums not exceeding the fines and penalties specified by 49 U.S.C. § 60122 (a)(1), as amended. Should the operation of such order be suspended pending an appeal, the period of such suspension shall not be computed against the person in the matter of his liability to fines or penalties. The authority granted herein shall be exercised in a manner that is not inconsistent with the above-referenced federal regulations and pipeline safety laws.

This subsection shall not apply to gas systems and pipeline facilities owned or operated by any county, city, or town.

C. With respect to the gas systems and pipeline facilities owned or operated by any county, city, or town, the Commission is authorized to act for the United States Secretary of Transportation to conduct safety inspections pursuant to the federal pipeline safety laws, 49 U.S.C. § 60101 et seq., to the extent authorized by certification or agreement with the Secretary under 49 U.S.C. § 60106 of the federal pipeline safety laws, 49 U.S.C. § 60101 et seq., as amended. After each inspection, an exit interview with any county, city, or town shall be conducted prior to promptly reporting to the United States Department of Transportation. This subsection shall not authorize the Commission to impose civil penalties or fines on any county, city, or town and shall not authorize the Commission to exercise jurisdiction over the rates, charges, services, facilities, or service territory of any county, city, or town providing gas service except as is otherwise provided by law.

1994, c. 12; 2005, c. 35.

§ 56-257.2:1. Projects presenting material risk to public safety; licensed professional engineers; regulations.

The Commission shall promulgate regulations requiring that a licensed professional engineer exercise responsible charge, as defined in § 54.1-400, over engineering projects that (i) involve gas pipeline facilities, as defined in the federal regulations promulgated under 49 U.S.C § 60101 et seq., as amended and adopted by the State Corporation Commission, and the federal pipeline safety laws, and (ii) may present a material risk to public safety.

2020, c. 822.

§ 56-257.3. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2005, c. 35.

§ 56-257.4. Report by the State Corporation Commission on investigation of natural gas utilities incident.

The Commission shall, upon written request, make available for public inspection within 30 days of the receipt of the request a report regarding the finalized enforcement action or investigation related to the death or personal injury necessitating inpatient hospitalization of any person, or estimated damage to property exceeding $50,000, that was the direct result of a leak or other incident involving the intrastate facilities of a natural gas utility operator. The report shall only be available for public inspection, upon written request, after the Commission has concluded the enforcement action or investigation. The report shall not reveal:

1. Infrastructure information for, or the location or operation of security or utility equipment and systems of, any public or private building, structure, or information storage facility;

2. Risk assessment information not provided to the public by the utility operator;

3. Specific security plans and measures of an entity, facility, building structure, information technology system, or software program;

4. Information confidential or sensitive in nature;

5. Information proprietary to the natural gas utility operator; or

6. Information that would jeopardize the safety or security of any (i) person; (ii) governmental facility, building, or structure; or (iii) private commercial office, residential, or retail building.

2019, c. 501.

§ 56-257.5. Manner of installing underground utility lines through agricultural operation.

A. For purposes of this section:

"Topsoil" means at least 12 inches of the surface soil layer or a six-inch layer of soil that includes the surface soil and the unconsolidated subsoil immediately below it.

"Underground utility line" means an underground pipeline or conduit of an inside diameter greater than 12 inches or an underground electrical transmission or distribution line of a capacity greater than 115 kilovolts.

B. Every operator, as defined in § 56-265.15, having the right to install an underground utility line shall install such underground utility line in accordance with regulations adopted pursuant to subsection C.

C. The Commission shall adopt regulations applicable to any operator that is subject to the provisions of subsection B. The regulations shall require that if such operator, in the course of installing the underground utility line, disturbs an area of land that measures 10,000 square feet or more and constitutes one or more agricultural operations, as defined in § 3.2-300, the operator shall, if desired by the landowner or land management agency, either (i) redistribute the topsoil removed from the disturbed area to graded areas elsewhere on the land of the affected property owner or (ii) if insufficient graded areas are available as sites for such redistribution, stockpile the topsoil removed from the disturbed area until it can be redistributed on the area initially disturbed. The regulations shall require that redistributed topsoil be placed on scarified land and that stockpiled topsoil be protected from erosion and compaction. If the property owner does not agree, then the topsoil shall be disposed of in accordance with applicable law.

2020, c. 666.

§ 56-258. Who to permit laying of pipelines in roads.

The Commissioner of Highways or the board of supervisors or other governing body in any county that has withdrawn its county roads from the secondary system of state highways is authorized to enter into contract with water companies or other corporations or persons to lay water pipelines along the rights-of-way of public roadways and turnpikes. Such water pipelines shall be laid in such manner as not to obstruct passage thereon when completed, and in any such contract the Commissioner of Highways or any such board of supervisors or other governing body, as the case may be, shall provide that the parties so laying such pipelines shall, at all times, exercise reasonable care not to obstruct such roadways while laying, repairing or replacing such pipe.

Code 1919, § 4060; 2013, cc. 585, 646.

§ 56-259. Rights-of-way, etc., may be contracted for; location of easements of public service corporations.

A. Any corporation of the character mentioned in this chapter or in Chapter 2 (§ 56-49 et seq.) may contract with any person or corporation, the owner of lands, or of any interest, franchise, privilege, or easement therein, over, under, or through which any pipeline transmitting petroleum products or natural gas, power or telephone line, sewer or water main or similar works is to be constructed, for the right-of-way for such line, sewer, main or works, and for sufficient land for its necessary offices, plant, or plants, works, stations and structures. All such contracts shall specify with reasonable particularity and definiteness the location of such easement of right-of-way; provided, however, that this provision shall not apply to contracts between any such corporation and any political subdivision of this Commonwealth, but any such corporation shall provide the location of its facilities on land owned by such a political subdivision upon request of such political subdivision.

B. The location of any easement of right-of-way of any public service corporation shall be as specified in the instrument by which such easement was conveyed to such public service corporation; provided that, with respect to all such easements granted after December 31, 1968, if such location is not specified by metes and bounds or by reference to a center line or survey line showing courses and distances from some ascertainable point of beginning, the location of such easement shall be determined by reference to the facilities constructed thereon, and the center line of those facilities shall be the center line of the easement.

C. Prior to acquiring any easement of right-of-way, public service corporations will consider the feasibility of locating such facilities on, over, or under existing easements of rights-of-way. In the event any public service corporation owning a right-of-way shall deny a request of any other public service corporation for joint use of that right-of-way, the corporation whose request is denied shall have the right, within thirty days after the denial to apply to the Commission for an order requiring such joint use. The Commission shall conduct a hearing on such application and shall direct the corporation owning the right-of-way to allow joint use if the Commission finds that such joint use is reasonable and that the present or future public utility service of such corporation will not be adversely affected by such joint use. In making such determination, the Commission may establish the terms and conditions for such joint use, including, without limitation, a requirement of compensation by the utility making the request to the utility owning the right-of-way, if the Commission finds such a requirement to be appropriate.

D. In any case involving an application for a certificate pursuant to § 56-265.2, the governing body of each locality in which a gas pipeline or electrical transmission line would be located shall have the right to request the Commission to consider directing a joint use of right-of-way within that locality pursuant to the standards in subsection C of this section, provided that the governing body shall file its request no later than the date for public comment on the application established by the Commission.

E. A renewable generator, as defined in § 56-614, should where feasible locate distribution facilities, as defined in § 56-614, that are required to connect its renewable energy facility that generates electricity to the electric distribution grid, to distribute steam generated at such facility, or to distribute its landfill gas to customers or a natural gas distribution or transmission pipeline, as applicable, on, over, or under existing easements of rights-of-way of a public service corporation. The renewable generator shall request joint use of the right-of-way from the public service corporation that owns the easement of right-of-way and shall offer to enter into an agreement that will specify the terms and conditions, including rental, under which such joint use will occur. The compensation to be paid to the public service corporation for such joint use shall be as negotiated between the public service corporation and the renewable generator. If any public service corporation owning an easement of right-of-way shall deny a request for the joint use of that right-of-way, the renewable generator shall have the right, exercisable within 30 days after the denial, to apply to the Commission for an order requiring such joint use. The Commission shall conduct a hearing on such application and shall direct the public service corporation owning the easement of right-of-way to allow joint use if the Commission finds that such joint use is reasonable and that the present or future public utility service of such corporation will not be adversely affected by such joint use. In making such determination, the Commission may establish the terms and conditions for such joint use, including, without limitation, the rental compensation that the renewable generator shall pay to the public service corporation owning the easement of right-of-way. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to railroads.

Code 1919, § 4062; 1964, c. 523; 1968, c. 534; 1972, c. 519; 1979, c. 309; 2001, cc. 745, 752; 2009, c. 807.

§ 56-259.1. Instruments conveying easements to public service corporations.

No instrument executed by a landowner after January 1, 2002, by which an easement of right of way in land is conveyed to a public service corporation shall be accepted for recordation in any Clerk's office that maintains property records unless it bears the following provision:

"NOTICE TO LANDOWNER: You are conveying rights to a public service corporation. A public service corporation may have the right to obtain some or all of these rights through exercise of eminent domain. To the extent that any of the rights being conveyed are not subject to eminent domain, you have the right to choose not to convey those rights and you could not be compelled to do so. You have the right to negotiate compensation for any rights that you are voluntarily conveying."

If such an instrument does not bear such a notice provision but is accepted for recordation in any Clerk's office, the absence of such notice provision shall not affect the validity or enforceability of such instrument.

2001, c. 751.

§ 56-260. Compensation for damages.

If any company of the character mentioned in this chapter and such owner as is referred to in § 56-259 cannot agree on the terms of such contract as is referred to in § 56-259, the company may acquire such right-of-way in the manner provided by the laws of this Commonwealth for the exercise of the right of eminent domain; and in case any person is damaged in his property along the line of any such public road, highway, park, street, avenue, or alley by any such use or occupation of the same, by any company of the character mentioned in this chapter, such corporation shall, before using or occupying with its works such public roads, highways, parks, streets, avenues, or alleys, make compensation therefor to the persons so damaged. If the parties cannot agree upon the same, such compensation shall be ascertained in the mode prescribed by law for the exercise of the right of eminent domain.

Code 1919, § 4063.

§ 56-260.1. Contract provisions exempting company from liability unlawful.

No contract for an easement of right-of-way for a pipeline, power or telephone line, sewer, main or similar works shall contain any provision which purports to exempt the corporation erecting, laying or installing the same from liability for injuries sustained by any person or property by reason of the laying, constructing, maintaining, operating, repairing, altering, replacing or removal of, or any failure or defect in, such line, sewer, main or works. Any such provision in any such contract is hereby declared to be against public policy and shall be null and void and unenforceable; provided, that this provision shall not apply as to any cause of action arising prior to June 26, 1964.

1964, c. 523.

Article 6. Water and Sewerage Companies.

§ 56-261. Duties of companies furnishing water or sewerage facilities.

Every public service corporation engaged in the business of furnishing water or sewerage facilities to any city, incorporated town, or county having a population greater than 500 inhabitants per square mile as shown by United States census, in this Commonwealth or to inhabitants thereof (whether or not such business is conducted under or by virtue of a municipal franchise), shall furnish at all times and at a reasonable charge a supply of water, a system of distribution or disposal and services and facilities incidental to such supply, distribution or disposal sufficient and adequate to the protection of the health of such inhabitants and to the public health of the community, and any such water company shall furnish a supply of water adequate for proper fire protection within such city or town or such county and the adjacent territory served by the mains of such corporation. Each person operating a sewerage system which includes one or more sewage treatment plants shall notify in writing, the Commission, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality and each electric or natural gas utility supplying or distributing energy to such system that such system includes a sewage treatment plant.

1924, p. 690; 1928, p. 632; Michie Code 1942, § 4073a; 2000, c. 183.

§ 56-261.1. Duties of water and sewerage companies in certain counties.

Chapter 298 of the Acts of 1950, approved April 4, 1950, requiring water and sewerage companies in any county adjoining a county having a population in excess of 2,000 per square mile, to furnish a supply of water sufficient for health and fire protection, is incorporated in this Code by this reference.

§ 56-261.2. Hydrant connections and water supply for fire protection in certain counties.

Chapter 319 of the Acts of 1950, approved April 4, 1950, relating to any county adjoining a county having a population in excess of 2,000 per square mile requiring certain water companies to furnish water for fire protection and the necessary hydrant connections, is incorporated in this Code by this reference.

§ 56-262. Proceeding upon failure of public service corporation to perform duties.

If any such public service corporation shall fail or refuse to perform any of the duties imposed by § 56-261 or by this chapter, any city or incorporated town, or any such county served or whose inhabitants are served by such corporation may file with the State Corporation Commission a petition setting forth the failure or refusal of such corporation to carry out and perform one or more of such duties, at a reasonable charge, or to the detriment or threatened detriment of the public health or safety from fire of such community.

1924, p. 690; 1928, p. 632; Michie Code 1942, § 4073b.

§ 56-263. Commission may order increase in service.

The Commission, after due notice to such public service corporation, shall investigate such complaint and if, upon such investigation, the Commission shall determine that the public health of the community or its safety from fire is impaired or threatened with impairment by reason of the failure of such public service corporation to perform or carry out any of the duties imposed by § 56-261, or by this chapter, it shall embody such finding in an order to be entered upon its records and at the same time shall enter an order requiring such public service corporation to make such increase in its water supply or such increases, changes, modifications and extensions of its distribution or disposal system and such changes, modifications and extensions in its service charges and facilities as may be requisite to the proper protection of the public health or safety of the community. The Commission shall fix in its order a reasonable time within which such increases, changes, modifications and extensions shall be completed and may require reports from such public service corporation of the progress of the work so ordered.

1924, p. 690; 1928, p. 632; Michie Code 1942, § 4073c.

§ 56-264. Quo warranto in case of failure to comply with order of Commission.

If any such public service corporation shall fail or refuse to comply with any order of the Commission made pursuant to the provisions of § 56-263, the Commonwealth, or any person authorized by Article 1 (§ 8.01-635 et seq.) of Chapter 25 of Title 8.01 to institute such a proceeding, may proceed against such corporation by a writ of quo warranto, or information in the nature of a writ of quo warranto, in the circuit or corporation court having jurisdiction in the county or city wherein is located the principal office of the corporation in this Commonwealth. The provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 25 of Title 8.01 shall be applicable to any such proceeding except as herein otherwise provided and if, in such proceeding, there shall be a judgment of dissolution, the provisions of § 13.1-755 shall apply.

1924, p. 690; 1928, p. 633; Michie Code 1942, § 4073d.

§ 56-264.1. Collection of rates, fees and charges.

In the event that the rates, fees or charges charged by any private sewage disposal system company for the services and facilities of any sewage disposal system or sewer improvements by or in connection with any real estate or other property served shall not be paid as and when due, the owner, tenant or occupant, as the case may be, of such property shall, until such rates, fees and charges shall be paid, cease to dispose of sewage or industrial wastes originating from or on such property by discharge thereof directly or indirectly into the sewerage system, and if such owner, tenant or occupant shall not cease such disposal within two months thereafter, it shall be the duty of each county, city, town or other public corporation, board or body, supplying water to or selling water for use on, such property, within five days after receipt of notice of such facts from the private sewage disposal system company to cease supplying water to, and selling water for use on, such property. If such county, city, town or other public corporation, board or body, shall not within such time cease supplying water to, and selling water for use on, such property the private sewage disposal system company may disconnect such property from such sewage disposal system or sewer improvements, and for such purposes may enter on any lands, waters and premises of such county, city, town or other public corporation, board or body. The county, city, town or other public corporation, board or body supplying water to or selling water for use on such property may establish a reasonable fee for discontinuing such service and shall establish administrative regulations to insure proper notice to the customer, to provide for reestablishment of service and to protect it against liability for action taken pursuant hereto.

1976, c. 405.

§ 56-264.2. Governing board of multistate entities operating certain sewage treatment facilities; arbitration of issues; condemnation of facilities.

A. As used in this section, "multistate entity" means any corporation, company, political subdivision, association, or other legal entity, without regard to whether such entity is a public utility or public service company, that engages in the provision of sewerage service to persons residing in the Commonwealth and to persons residing in an adjacent state and that operates a sewage treatment facility with a capacity of not less than five million gallons per day that is located in the Commonwealth, the construction or expansion of which treatment facility was financed primarily through the Virginia Revolving Loan Fund or a successor loan fund program administered by the Virginia Resources Authority or Department of Environmental Quality.

B. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, all powers of a multistate entity shall be exercised by or under the authority of, and all business and affairs of the multistate entity shall be managed under the direction of, a governing board, which may be titled a board of directors, board of trustees, or similar appellation. The governing board shall be comprised of (i) two members residing in the Commonwealth for each locality of the Commonwealth wherein the multistate entity provides sewage treatment services and (ii) a number of members residing in the adjacent state that is equal to the number of members residing in the Commonwealth. The governing body of each locality of the Commonwealth wherein the multistate entity provides sewerage services shall appoint two individuals to the board, which individuals need not be residents of such locality. The terms of members of the board residing in the Commonwealth shall expire one year following their appointment; however, despite the expiration of such a member's term, the member shall continue to serve until his successor is elected and qualifies. Unless the articles of incorporation, bylaws, charter, or other organic document of the multistate entity requires a greater number for the transaction of particular business, a quorum of the governing board shall consist of a majority of the number of members prescribed by this subsection. If a quorum is present when a vote of the governing board is taken, the affirmative vote of a majority of members present is the act of the governing board unless the articles of incorporation, bylaws, charter, or other organic document of the multistate entity requires the vote of a greater number of members. Except as provided in this section, the provisions of the articles of incorporation, bylaws, charter, or other organic document of a multistate entity in effect prior to July 1, 2006, shall continue to apply with respect to the method of appointing the board members residing in the adjacent state and the duration of their terms, and to other matters relating to the governing board of such multistate entity, except that no amendment to the articles of incorporation, bylaws, charter, or other organic document of the multistate entity that contravenes any provision of this section shall be effective.

C. Upon the filing of a petition by not fewer than one-half of the members of the governing board of a multistate entity requesting the Commission to arbitrate an issue pertaining to the management of the business and affairs of the multistate entity that requires the affirmative vote of the members, upon which issue the governing board is deadlocked, the Commission shall commence a proceeding to arbitrate the issue. The multistate entity and the nonpetitioning members of the governing board shall be parties to the proceeding. With the petition for arbitration, the petitioners shall provide all relevant documentation concerning the issue on which it is alleged that the board is deadlocked and the positions of the petitioners and the other members of the governing board with respect to the issue. The Commission shall conduct the arbitration proceeding in accordance with its Rules of Practice and Procedure (5VAC5-20-10 et seq.). The Commission's consideration shall be limited to the issue in the petition. The Commission shall proceed promptly with the hearing and determination of the issue in controversy. The final order of the Commission shall be final and binding on the multistate entity and the governing board, unless notice of appeal to the Supreme Court is filed in the office of the Clerk of the Commission within 30 days after entry of the order appealed from, in the manner provided in the rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. If the Commission incurs additional costs in conducting such an arbitration proceeding that cannot be recovered through the maximum levy authorized pursuant to § 58.1-2660, the unrecoverable portion of the costs of the arbitration proceedings shall be assessed against the multistate entity.

D. If the articles of incorporation, bylaws, charter, or other organic document of a multistate entity in existence on July 1, 2006, does not comply with the requirements of subsection B by January 1, 2008, then the locality in the Commonwealth wherein the sewage treatment facility is located shall be authorized to acquire, by exercise of the power of eminent domain if the governing body of the locality deems it appropriate, the sewage treatment facility operated by the multistate entity, without regard to whether such entity is the owner of the sewage treatment facility, and any related pipelines, easements, and other property related to the provision of sewerage services that is located within the locality, for the purpose of providing sewerage services to persons residing within the Commonwealth and the Bluestone Watershed.

2006, cc. 576, 591.

§ 56-264.3. Cost allocation and rate design.

A. The provisions of this section shall apply in any proceeding in which the Commission is required to determine, pursuant to § 56-234, if (i) rates charged by water and sewerage companies with fewer than 10,000 customer accounts, inclusive of their subsidiaries, are reasonable and just and (ii) customers using water and sewerage services under like conditions are being charged uniformly for such services.

B. Any rate application or proposal submitted to the Commission that would allocate the revenue requirement of a water or sewerage company with fewer than 10,000 customer accounts, inclusive of their subsidiaries, among more than one class of customers shall be supported by a class cost-of-service study that is designed to allocate revenues on the basis of cost causation and to assign credit for contributions in aid of construction, not previously addressed in a utility acquisition transaction or the most recent approved rate case application, to the customer class that made the contributions.

C. In setting rates, the Commission shall not find that any allocation of the revenue requirement to a particular class of customers that is greater than the portion of the revenue requirement that can be attributed to that class on the basis of a cost-of-service study of the type described in subsection B is just and reasonable unless the allocation is otherwise supported by substantial evidence.

D. In any proceeding pursuant to § 56-234 regarding the rates charged by water and sewerage companies, the revenues to be produced by rates as designed for any particular class of customers shall not provide an anticipated return on equity more than 25 percent greater or less than the return on equity used to set rates for the company as a whole, unless otherwise supported by clear and convincing evidence. The effect of this provision on class rate design shall not be considered in establishing the return on equity used to set rates for the company as a whole.

2019, c. 715.

§ 56-265. Certain sections not to limit Commission's powers.

Nothing in § 56-261 or §§ 56-262 through 56-264 shall be construed so as to limit or curtail the existing powers of the Commission to require of all public service corporations in all cases the rendition of adequate service to the public at reasonable rates nor the existing right of municipalities or individuals to apply to the Commission for the enforcement of such duties, the purpose of such sections being to extend and not to limit the powers of the Commission.

1924, p. 691; 1928, p. 633; Michie Code 1942, § 4073f.