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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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Notice and hearing; order fixing price of gas or electricity or requiring improvement
Public Service (PBS) CHAPTER 48, ARTICLE 4
§ 72. Notice and hearing; order fixing price of gas or electricity or
requiring improvement. Before proceeding under a complaint presented as
provided in section seventy-one, the commission shall cause notice of
such complaint, and the purpose thereof, to be served upon the person or
corporation affected thereby. Such person or corporation shall have an
opportunity to be heard in respect to the matters complained of at a
time and place to be specified in such notice. An investigation may be
instituted by the commission of its own motion as to any matter of which
complaint may be made, as provided in section seventy-one of this
chapter, or to enable it to ascertain the facts requisite to the
exercise of any power conferred upon it. After a hearing and after such
an investigation as shall have been made by the commission or its
officers, agents, examiners or inspectors, the commission may, by order,
fix just and reasonable prices, rates and charges for gas or electricity
to be charged by such corporation or person, for the service to be
furnished notwithstanding that a higher or lower price has been
theretofore prescribed by general or special statute, contract, grant,
franchise condition, consent or other agreement, and may order such
improvement in the manufacture, conveying, transportation, distribution
or supply of gas, in the manufacture, transmission or supply of
electricity, or in the methods employed by such person or corporation,
as will in its judgment be adequate, just and reasonable. Any such
change in price shall be upon such terms, conditions or safeguards as
the commission may prescribe. If it shall be made to appear to the
satisfaction of the commission that the public interest requires a
change in the price of gas or electricity charged by any such person or
corporation, or that such change is necessary for the purpose of
providing adequate and efficient service, or for the preservation of the
property, the commission, upon such terms, conditions or safeguards as
it deems proper, may authorize an immediate, reasonable, temporary
increase or decrease in such price pending a final determination of the
price to be thereafter charged by such person or corporation. The terms,
conditions or safeguards prescribed may include provisions for the
purposes for which the additional revenue derived from any such
temporary increase may be expended and for the impounding thereof until
the same shall be applied to the purposes so specified. The price fixed
by the commission under this section or under subdivision five of
section sixty-six shall be the maximum price to be charged by such
person, corporation or municipality for gas or electricity for the
service to be furnished within the territory and for a period to be
fixed by the commission in the order, not exceeding three years except
in the case of a sliding scale, and thereafter until the commission
shall, upon its own motion or upon the complaint of any corporation,
person or municipality interested, fix a higher or lower maximum price
of gas or electricity to be thereafter charged. In determining the price
to be charged for gas or electricity the commission may consider all
facts which in its judgment have any bearing upon a proper determination
of the question although not set forth in the complaint and not within
the allegations contained therein, with due regard among other things to
a reasonable average return upon capital actually expended and to the
necessity of making reservations out of income for surplus and
contingencies. At any hearing involving a rate, the burden of proof to
show that the change in rate or price if proposed by the person,
corporation or municipality operating such utility, or that the existing
rate or price, if on motion of the commission or in a complaint filed
with the commission it is proposed to reduce the rate or price, is just
and reasonable shall be upon the person, corporation or municipality
operating such utility; and the commission may give to the hearing and
decision of such questions preference over all other questions pending
before it and decide the same as speedily as possible. Nothing in this
chapter contained shall be deemed to prohibit the commission from fixing
a sliding scale upward rate for natural gas, beginning at a fixed price
per unit for a small consumption and then increasing the price per unit
as the consumption is increased.