AB 895, as amended, Rendon. Utility rate refunds: energy crisis litigation.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities. Existing law authorizes the commission to fix the rates and charges for every public utility, and requires that those rates and charges be just and reasonable. When the commission orders rate refunds to be distributed, existing law requires the commission to require the public utility to pay refunds to all current utility customers, and, when practicable, to prior customers, on an equitable pro rata basis without regard as to whether or not the customer is classifiable as a residential or commercial tenant, landlord, homeowner, business, industrial, educational, governmental, nonprofit, agricultural, or any other type of entity.
Existing law establishes the Ratepayer Relief Fund in the State Treasury to benefit electricity and natural gas ratepayers and to fund investigation and litigation costs of the state in pursuing allegations of overcharges and unfair business practices against generators, suppliers, or marketers of electricity or natural gas arising from the energy crisis of 2000-02. Existing law requires that any energy settlement agreement, as defined, entered into by the Attorney General, after reimbursing the Attorney General’s litigation and investigation expenses, direct settlement funds to the following purposes in priority order: (1) to reduce ratepayer costs of those utility ratepayers harmed by the actions of the settling parties; and (2) for deposit in the Ratepayer Relief Fund. Existing law authorizes the moneys deposited in the Ratepayer Relief Fund to be appropriated for certain purposes for the benefit of ratepayers.
This bill would prohibit the
begin delete Public Utilities Commissionend delete from distributing or expending the proceeds of claims in any litigation or settlement to obtain ratepayer recovery for the effects of the 2000-02 energy crisis and would require that the begin delete proceedsend delete be deposited into the Ratepayer Relief Fund.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
immediately following Section 16428.2
begin delete(a)end delete begin delete end deleteAny energy settlement agreement entered into
13by the Attorney General, after reimbursing the Attorney General’s
14litigation and investigation expenses, to the maximum extent
15possible, shall direct settlement funds to the following purposes
16in priority order:
P3 1(1)end delete
2 To reduce ratepayer costs
of those utility ratepayers harmed
3by the actions of the settling parties. To the extent the ratepayers
4of the investor-owned utilities were harmed, the settlement funds
5shall be directed to reduce their costs, to the maximum extent
6possible, through reduction of rates or the reduction of ratepayer
7debt obligations incurred as a result of the energy crisis.
9 For deposit in the fund.
10(b) Nothing in this article shall preclude nonmonetary
11compensation to the state through an energy settlement agreement,
12provided that the allocation of benefits from any nonmonetary
13compensation is consistent with paragraph (1) of subdivision (a).
Moneys in the fund shall be expended upon
17appropriation by the Legislature, for the benefit of ratepayers.
18Moneys in the fund
begin delete mayend delete be appropriated for the following
20(a) To finance energy litigation and investigation expenses of
23 To reduce rates for customers in the affected service areas
24of electrical utilities and gas utilities.
26 To reduce the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to
27Division 27 (commencing with Section 80000) of the Water Code.
Section 453.5 of the Public Utilities Code is amended
(a) (1) If the commission orders rate refunds to be
32distributed, the commission shall require public utilities to pay
33refunds to all current utility customers, and, when practicable, to
34prior customers, on an equitable pro rata basis without regard as
35to whether or not the customer is classifiable as a residential or
36commercial tenant, landlord, homeowner, business, industrial,
37educational, governmental, nonprofit, agricultural, or any other
38type of entity.
39(2) For the purposes of this section, “equitable pro rata basis”
40means in proportion to the amount originally paid for the utility
P4 1service involved, or in proportion to the amount of the utility
2service actually received.
3(3) This section shall not prevent the commission from
4authorizing refunds to residential and other small customers to be
5based on current usage.
6(b) (1) The commission shall not distribute or expend the
7proceeds of claims in any litigation or settlement to obtain ratepayer
8recovery for the effects of the 2000-02 energy crisis.
9(2) Proceeds of any claims arising
10out of the energy crisis of
begin delete 2000-02end delete shall be deposited into the Ratepayer
13Relief Fund established pursuant to
begin delete Article 9.5 (commencing with
14Section 16428.1) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 4 of Title 2end delete
15 of the