Code of Virginia

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

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.