as amended, Rendon. Utility rate refunds: energy crisis
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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 require the Attorney General or the Public Utilities Commission to enter into an energy settlement agreement solely on a monetary basis and would prohibit the agreement from including nonmonetary compensation in lieu of monetary compensation. The bill would prohibit the commission 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 proceeds, after reimbursing the commission’s litigation and investigation expenses, be deposited into the Ratepayer Relief Fund. The bill would require the moneys in the fund to be appropriated for those purposes for the benefit of ratepayers.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 16428.25 is added to the Government
2Code, immediately following Section 16428.2, to read:
(a) The Attorney General or the Public Utilities
4Commission shall enter into an energy settlement agreement solely
P3 1on a monetary basis. The energy settlement agreement shall not
2include any nonmonetary compensation in lieu of monetary
4(b) The section does not apply to a settlement agreement entered
5into before January 1, 2016.
Section 16428.3 of the Government Code is amended
Any energy settlement agreement entered into by the
9Attorney General, after reimbursing the Attorney General’s
10litigation and investigation expenses, to the maximum extent
11possible, shall direct settlement funds to the following purposes
12in priority order:
13(a) To reduce ratepayer costs of those utility ratepayers harmed
14by the actions of the settling parties. To the extent the ratepayers
15of the investor-owned utilities were harmed, the settlement funds
16shall be directed to reduce their costs, to the maximum extent
17possible, through reduction of rates or the reduction of ratepayer
18debt obligations incurred as a result of the energy crisis.
19(b) For deposit in the fund.
Section 16428.5 of the Government Code is amended
Moneys in the fund shall be expended upon
23appropriation by the Legislature, for the benefit of ratepayers.
24Moneys in the fund shall be appropriated for the following
26(a) To reduce rates for customers in the affected service areas
27of electrical utilities and gas utilities.
28(b) To reduce the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to
29Division 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
33distributed, the commission shall require public utilities to pay
34refunds to all current utility customers, and, when practicable, to
35prior customers, on an equitable pro rata basis without regard as
36to whether or not the customer is classifiable as a residential or
37commercial tenant, landlord, homeowner, business, industrial,
38educational, governmental, nonprofit, agricultural, or any other
39type of entity.
P4 1(2) For the purposes of this section, “equitable pro rata basis”
2means in proportion to the amount originally paid for the utility
3service involved, or in proportion to the amount of the utility
4service actually received.
5(3) This section shall not prevent the commission from
6authorizing refunds to residential and other small customers to be
7based on current usage.
8(b) (1) The commission shall not distribute or expend the
9proceeds of claims in any litigation or settlement to obtain ratepayer
10recovery for the effects of the 2000-02 energy crisis.
11(2) Proceeds of any claims recovered by the commission arising
12out of the energy crisis of 2000-02, after reimbursing the
13commission’s litigation and investigation expenses, to the
14maximum extent possible, shall be deposited into the Ratepayer
15Relief Fund established pursuant to Section 16428.15 of the
16Government Code and expended, upon appropriation, for purposes
17set forth in Section 16428.5 of the Government Code.
(a) No court of this state, except the Supreme Court and
21the court of appeal, to the extent specified in this article, shall have
22jurisdiction to review, reverse, correct, or annul
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23decision of the commission or to suspend or delay the execution
24or operation thereof, or to enjoin, restrain, or interfere with the
25commission in the performance of its official duties, as provided
26by law and the rules of court.
27(b) The writ of mandamus shall lie from the Supreme Court and
28from the court of appeal to the commission in all proper cases as
29prescribed in Section 1085 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
This act does
not apply to any
9claims brought by an electrical corporation, as defined in Section
10218 of the Public Utilities Code, that arise from the energy crisis