Utilities Law

SCS/SB 191 – Adds electronic form to the list of mediums of publication that the Public Service Commission may use when publishing certain papers, studies, reports, and Commission decisions, findings, and orders. (Signed 5/16/13) 

SB 237 – Currently, alternative local exchange telecommunications companies providing basic local telecommunications services are exempt from certain requirements. This act creates an additional exemption for price caps established by the Public Service Commission. (Signed 5/17/13) 

SCS/SB 240 – Requires the Public Service Commission to specify in its decisions the annual amount of net write–off incurred by a gas corporation. After such a decision, the gas corporation shall be allowed to recover from customers 90% of the increase in net write–offs. For decreases in net write–offs, the gas corporation must return to customers 90% of the decrease. 

Provides that, the Public Service Commission cannot approve an ISRS without having issued a rate proceeding decision within the last five years. A gas corporation cannot collect an ISRS for more than three years unless a rate proceeding occurs. Also increases the amount a gas corporation may recover through infrastructure system replacement surcharges. 

This act contains an emergency clause for a certain section. (Vetoed 7/10/13) 

SS/SCS/HB 142 – Customer-Owned Solar Energy Systems – Solar energy systems not held for resale are exempt from taxation for state, county, or local purposes. 

Water Utilities – Combines all water and sewer corporations into one group of public utilities for assessment purposes. 

Any person, public utility, or other corporation who wishes to acquire 50% or more of the total stock issued by the small water or sewer corporation must notify the Public Service Commission 30 days prior to the acquisition. No small water or sewer corporation that is delinquent in filing an annual report with the Public Service Commission or is in violation of any Public Service Commission or Missouri Department of Natural Resources rules or regulations shall sell or transfer 50% or more of its total stock without consent of the Public Service Commission. 

Specifies the ratemaking for a small water utility being acquired by a large water utility. 

The small water utility acquired by a large water public utility shall become part of an existing service area for ratemaking purposes whether or not the procedures for establishing a ratemaking rate base have been utilized. The Public Service Commission shall approve the consolidation in its order approving the acquisition. 

Joint Municipal Utility Commission Act – Removes the public voting procedure option for municipal bonds that indebt the commission and instead allows the governing bodies of each contracting municipality to vote for such bonds. Renewable Energy Standard – Makes solar rebates available to customers of electric utilities, conditions apply. 

Energy Efficiency Programs – Under current law, a customer of an electric company is not eligible to receive a monetary incentive offered by the company for an energy efficiency program if the customer has received a tax credit for low– income housing or historic preservation. This act makes an exception to this restriction for low–income customers. (Signed 7/5/13) 

SS/HB 331 – Right-of-Way for Public Utilities – Allows attorneys’ fees and costs in connection to issuing, processing, or verifying right–of–way permit applications or other agreements to be recovered. Provides that, if a political subdivision fails to act on an application for a right–of–way permit within 31 days, the application shall be approved. 

If a public utility right–of–way user has been denied a permit, had a permit revoked, or believes the political subdivision has violated this section, the utility may bring an action in court. The court shall rule on any such petition for the review in an expedited manner by moving the petition to the head of the docket. Nothing shall deny the authority of its right to a hearing before the court. 

Bans political subdivisions from requiring any public utility that has been granted access to the subdivision’s right–of– way to enter into an agreement or obtain a permit for the right to remain in the right–of–way. 

Uniform Wireless Communications Infrastructure Deployment Act – Authorities may exercise their current authority with regard to the siting of new wireless support structures pursuant to procedures set out in the act. 

Authorities may exercise their current authority with regard to the applications for substantial modifications of wireless support structures pursuant to procedures set out in the act 

Collocation applications and applications for replacement of wireless facilities shall meet certain safety guidelines as set forth in this act. 

Authorities may not institute a moratorium on new wireless support structures or collocations if such moratorium exceeds six months and if the legislative act establishing it fails to state reasonable grounds and good cause for such moratorium. No moratorium shall affect an already pending application. Further, authorities may not charge more than the market rate for the rental of public land. If the parties cannot agree on a rate for the lease, three appraisers will be chosen. Each party will choose an appraiser with a third independent appraiser being chosen by the first two appraisers. The midpoint of the three appraisals will be used as the rate, unless such amount is more than 10% off from the independent appraiser’s valuation. In such a case, the independent appraiser’s valuation will be used. Further, authorities may not offer a lease or contract to use public land to locate a wireless support structure than is less than 15 years in duration, unless the applicant agrees to accept a lease of less than 15 years. Nothing in this section shall give the applicant the power of eminent domain or the right to compel any property owner or certain governmental departments to lease or sell property for the construction of a new wireless support structure or to locate or cause the collocation or expansion of a wireless facility on any existing structure. 

Utility Right-of-Way Across Railroads – Establishes a procedure for certain utilities to construct facilities over, under, or across a railroad right–of–way. 

Under the terms of this act, if the parties cannot agree that special circumstances exist to a particular crossing, the dispute shall be submitted to binding arbitration pursuant to procedures set out in the act. 

This act shall apply in all crossings of land management corridors involving a land management company and a utility. The provisions of this act shall apply to a crossing commenced after August 28, 2013, if an agreement concerning the crossing has expired or is terminated and to a crossing commenced on or after August 28, 2013. 

Civil Immunity – Establishes immunity from a cause of action for any telecommunications carrier or other communications service for providing any information, facilities, or assistance to a law official or agency in response to requests made under the circumstances of an emergency situation. 

Telecommunications Exemptions – This act allows a telecommunications company to be either partially or completely exempt, upon written notice to the Public Service Commission, from any requirement to file or maintain a tariff or schedule of rates, rentals, charges, privileges, facilities, rules, regulations, or forms of contract with the Commission if the same information is available on a publicly accessible website. A telecommunications company may include in a tariff filed with the Commission, any, all, or none of the rates, terms, or conditions for its retail telecommunications services. 

Further, this act exempts telecommunication corporations and state chartered telecommunication companies from being subject to rules and regulations relating to retail services regulated by the Public Service Commission, except to the extent that it elects to remain subject to certain statutes, rules, or Commission orders. Telecommunications companies are still required to collect the universal service fund surcharge, report the intrastate telecommunications service revenues necessary to calculate the commission assessment, universal service fund surcharge, and certain telecommunications programs, and comply with the emergency location requirements. 

This act also exempts broadband and other Internet protocol–enabled services from the rules and regulations of the Public Service Commission, except that voice over Internet protocol services shall continue to comply with fee and registration requirements enforced by the Commission. However, this act specifies that the Commission shall retain jurisdiction over all matters delegated to it by federal statute, rule, or order. In addition, this act allows telecommunications companies to register with the Commission and obtain certification using the same process as used for voice over Internet protocol service. 

Currently, alternative local exchange telecommunications companies providing basic local telecommunications services are exempt from certain requirements. This act creates an additional exemption for price caps established by the Public Service Commission. (Signed 7/5/13) 

HB 339 – Under the terms of this act, uninsured motorists forfeit their ability to collect noneconomic damages from insured motorists due to motor vehicle accidents in which the insured motorists are alleged to be at fault. The statutory “no pay, no play” waiver or forfeiture shall not apply if the accident is caused by tortfeasor who operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is caused by a person convicted of second degree manslaughter or second degree assault. The act shall not apply to uninsured motorists whose immediately previous insurance policy was terminated or nonrenewed for failure to pay the premium unless notice of termination or nonrenweal for failure to pay such premium was provided by the insurer at least 6 months prior to the accident. Under the act, the jury shall not be informed that the uninsured tort victim is forfeiting noneconomic damages. The terms of the act shall not apply to the passengers in an uninsured motor vehicle. (Vetoed 7/3/13) 

SS/SCS/HCS/HB 345 – Modifies provisions relating to telecommunications. 

Wireless Communications Infrastructure – Authorities may not institute a moratorium on new wireless support structures or collocations if such moratorium exceeds six months and if the legislative act establishing it fails to state reasonable grounds and good cause for such moratorium. No moratorium shall affect an already pending application. Further, authorities may not charge more than the market rate for the rental of public land. If the parties cannot agree on a rate for the lease, three appraisers will be chosen. Each party will choose an appraiser with a third independent appraiser being chosen by the first two appraisers. The midpoint of the three appraisals will be used as the rate, unless such amount is more than 10% off from the independent appraiser’s valuation. In such a case, the independent appraiser’s valuation will be used. Further, authorities may not offer a lease or contract to use public land to locate a wireless support structure than is less than 15 years in duration, unless the applicant agrees to accept a lease of less than 15 years. Nothing in this section shall give the applicant the power of eminent domain or the right to compel any property owner or certain governmental departments to lease or sell property for the construction of a new wireless support structure or to locate or cause the collocation or expansion of a wireless facility on any existing structure. 

Pole Attachments – Defines pole attachment as an attachment by a video service provider, telecommunications or other communications–related provider to a pole owned by a municipal utility. Any pole attachment fees, terms, and conditions demanded by a municipal utility pole owner shall be nondiscriminatory, just, and reasonable and shall not be subject to any required franchise authority or government permitting entity. A pole attachment rental fee shall be calculated on an annual, per pole basis. Either party may seek review of any fee, term, or condition by means of binding arbitration as set forth in this act. An arbitrator’s award is limited to the costs of the pole attachment and a reasonable share of the fully allocated costs attributable to the pole attachment. If no prior contract exists between an attaching entity and a municipal utility pole owner, and a dispute between the pole owner and attaching entity concerns the rental fee, the attaching entity may proceed with the attachment during the pendency of arbitration under the agreed upon terms and conditions. (Signed 7/5/13) 

HB 432 – Currently, the Public Service Commission does not have the authority to intervene in certain legal proceedings allowable by federal administrative rules. This act would allow the Public Service Commission to intervene in certain legal proceedings after August 28, 2013. (Signed 7/3/13)