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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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SECTION 97
Rates, rentals and service
Public Service (PBS) CHAPTER 48, ARTICLE 5
§ 97. Rates, rentals and service. 1. Whenever the commission shall be
of opinion, after a hearing, had upon its own motion or upon a complaint
that the rates, charges, tolls or rentals demanded, exacted, charged or
collected by any telegraph corporation or telephone corporation subject
to its jurisdiction for the transaction of messages or communications by
telegraph or telephone or for the rental or use of any telegraph line,
telephone line or any telegraph instrument, wire, appliances, apparatus
or device or any telephone receiver, transmitter, instrument, wire,
cable, apparatus, conduit, machine, appliance or device or any telephone
extension or extention system or that the rules, regulations or
practices of any telegraph corporation or telephone corporation
affecting such rates, charges, rentals or service are unjust,
unreasonable or unjustly discriminatory or unduly preferential or in
anywise in violation of law, or that the maximum rates, charges or
rentals chargeable by any such telegraph corporation or telephone
corporation are insufficient to yield reasonable compensation for the
service rendered, the commission shall, with due regard, among other
things, to a reasonable average return upon the value of the property
actually used in the public service and to the necessity of making
reservation out of income for surplus and contingencies, determine the
just and reasonable rates, charges and rentals to be thereafter observed
and in force as the maximum to be charged, demanded, exacted or
collected for the performance or rendering of the service specified
notwithstanding that a higher or lower rate, charge or rental has been
theretofore prescribed by general or special statute, contract, grant,
franchise condition, consent or other agreement and shall fix the same
by order to be served upon all telegraph corporations and telephone
corporations by which such rates, charges or rentals are thereafter to
be observed, and thereafter no increase in any rate, charge or rental so
fixed shall be made without the consent of the commission. Any such
change in rate, charge or rental shall be upon such terms, conditions or
safeguards as the commission may prescribe. At any hearing involving a
rate, charge or rental, the burden of proof to show that the change in
the rate, charge or rental, if proposed by the person or corporation
operating the utility, or that the existing rate, if on motion of the
commission or in a complaint filed with the commission it is proposed to
reduce the rate, charge or rental, is just and reasonable, shall be upon
the person or corporation operating such utility; and the commission may
give to the hearing and decision of such question preference over all
other questions pending before it and decide the same as speedily as
possible. If it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of the
commission that the public interest requires a change in the rate,
charge or rental for telephone or telegraph service charged by any such
person or corporation, or that such change is necessary for the purpose
of providing adequate or sufficient service or for the preservation of
the property, the commission may, upon such terms, conditions or
safeguards as it deems proper, authorize an immediate, reasonable,
temporary increase or decrease in such rate, charge or rental pending a
final determination of the rate, charge or rental to be thereafter
demanded, exacted or collected by such person or corporation. The terms,
conditions or safeguards prescribed may include conditions for the
purposes for which additional revenue derived from any such temporary
increase may be expended and for the impounding thereof until the same
shall be applied to the purpose so specified.

2. Whenever the commission shall be of the opinion, after a hearing
had upon its own motion or upon complaint that the rules, regulations or
practices of any telegraph corporation or telephone corporation are
unjust or unreasonable or that the equipment or service of any telegraph
corporation or telephone corporation is inadequate, inefficient,
improper or insufficient, the commission shall determine the just,
reasonable, adequate, efficient and proper regulations, practices,
equipment and service thereafter to be installed, to be observed and
used, and to fix and prescribe the same by order to be served upon every
telegraph corporation and telephone corporation to be bound thereby and
thereafter it shall be the duty of every telegraph corporation and
telephone corporation to which such order is directed to obey each and
every such order so served upon it and to do everything necessary or
proper in order to secure compliance with and observance of every such
order by all its officers, agents and employees according to its true
intent and meaning. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed
as giving to the commission power to make any order, direction or
requirement requiring any telegraph corporation or telephone corporation
to perform any act which is unjust or unreasonable or in violation of
any law of this state or of the United States not inconsistent with the
provisions of this chapter.

3. The commission shall have power by order to require any two or more
telegraph corporations or any two or more telephone corporations whose
lines form a continuous line of communication, or could be made to do so
by the construction and maintenance of suitable connections or transfer
of messages at common points, between different localities which are not
reached by the line of either company alone, to establish through lines
within the state between two or more such localities and joint rates or
charges for service by or over said lines as the commission may by its
order prescribe and in case such through lines and joint rates be not
established by the corporations named in any such order within the time
therein specified, the commission shall have power by order to establish
the same and to fix the just and reasonable rates and charges to be
charged for such through service and to declare the portion thereof to
which each of the corporations affected thereby shall be entitled and
the manner in which the same shall be secured and paid.