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Utilities Law

HB 68 – Misuse of emergency telephone service (See Local Government)

SS HCS HB 338 – Telecommunications Specifies that a telecommunications company may, upon written notice to the Missouri Public Service Commission, elect to be exempt from certain retail rules relating to the provision of service to retail customers.  Certain exemptions apply.

A telecommunications company may, upon written notice to the commission, to elect to be exempt from any requirement to file or maintain with the commission any tariff or schedule of rates, rentals, charges, privileges, facilities, rules, regulations, or forms of contract for telecommunications services offered or provided to residential or business retail end user customers if it posts generally available retail prices for those available services on a publicly accessible website.

The provisions of the bill cannot affect the rights and obligations of any entity, including the commission, established pursuant to federal law; any state law, rule, regulation, or order related to wholesale rights and obligations; or any tariff or schedule that is filed with and maintained by the commission. (Signed 7/8/11)

SS HB 339 – Telecommunications Changes the laws regarding telecommunications as they relate to the carrier of last resort obligations. (Signed 6/22/11) 

CCS/HCS/SB 48 – Utilities Changes laws regarding utilities. In its main provisions, this bill:

(1) Removes the certified mail requirement for the notice regarding the nonpayment of sewer service charges;

(2) Changes the appellate procedures for an issue initially decided by the Missouri Public Service Commission by:
(a) Requiring the commission in any proceeding resulting in the establishment of new rates for a public utility to cause to be prepared and approve, after allowing the parties a reasonable opportunity to provide written input, a detailed reconciliation containing the dollar value and rate or charge impact of each contested issue decided by the commission;
(b) Allowing a notice of a commission order affecting a person or corporation to be provided by electronic service in addition to the current options of certified mail or prepaid mail to the individuals or, in the case of corporation, to any officer or agent upon whom a summons may be served in accordance with provisions of the code of civil procedure;
(c) Specifying that an appellant may file a notice of appeal with the commission and the appropriate appellate court within 30 days after a request for a rehearing is denied or a final decision on rehearing is made for a commission order or decision issued on or after the effective date of these provisions.  Currently, the appellant may apply to the appropriate circuit court within 30 days after the rehearing is denied or the final decision on the rehearing is made;
(d) Requiring the commission to certify its record in the case to the court of appeals within 30 days of the filing of the notice of appeal;
(e) Specifying that the commission and any party to a commission action or proceeding must have the right to intervene and submit briefs in the review proceedings to the court of appeals in accordance with the briefing schedule established by the court;
(f) Requiring the court of appeals, upon the submission of a case, to render its opinion affirming or setting aside in whole or in part the order or decision of the commission under review;
(g) Allowing an appellant court to stay or suspend the operation of a commission order or decision that does not involve the establishment of new rates and charges for a public utility if it determines that great or irreparable damage would otherwise result to the appellant.  Stay will not be issued for orders or rules involving new rates or charges for public utilities that are note classified as price-cap or competitive companies, however, temporary rate adjustments may be allowed.  An appellant court may require the commission to provide temporary rate adjustments in a case where the court determines that a commission order or decision was unlawful or unreasonably decided.  The requirements for calculating a temporary rate adjustment based on the type of deviation from lawful or reasonable rates are specified in the substitute;
(h) Specifying that no action affecting the public utility’s collection of rates and charges can be taken in a case where the appellant court cannot make a determination because the commission failed to include adequate findings of fact to support the commission’s decision and requiring the commission to provide adequate findings of fact to support its decision or order within 90 days of receiving a court-issued mandate; and
(i) Allowing the commission and any party that is aggrieved by the opinion of an appellant court to seek a rehearing or transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court under rules established by the court and removing the provision which requires a $500 bond be filed within 10 days after a judgment has been entered in a circuit court in order to file an appeal with the Missouri Supreme Court or a court of appeals. (Sections 386.420, 386.490, and 386.510-386.540);

(3) Prohibits any public utility regulated under Chapter 393 from requiring a deposit or guarantee as a condition of continued residential service to any existing customer who has been delinquent in paying his or her utility bills at least five times in 12 consecutive months if certain specified conditions exist.  These provisions do not apply to a customer who owes more than $300 or who has previously established payment plan with the utility (Section 393.152); and

(4) Allows a designated renewable energy generation zone to be designated as an enhanced enterprise zone for tax purposes.  Local authorities may exempt improvements to real property in these zones from property taxes for up to 25 years.  Tax credits cannot be issued for facilities that produce renewable energy.  Certain hydroelectric power generating equipment is classified as real property for tax purposes (Section 620.2300).

The bill contains an emergency clause for the provisions regarding the appellate procedures for an issue initially decided by the Missouri Public Service Commission. (Signed 7/1/11)