ASSEMBLY, No. 2755
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 25, 2014
Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Requires funds collected through societal benefits charge not allocated be credited to electric and gas public utility customers.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning allocation of societal benefits charge funds and amending P.L.1999, c.23.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 12 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-60) is amended to read as follows:
12. a. Simultaneously with the starting date for the implementation of retail choice as determined by the board pursuant to subsection a. of section 5 of [this act] P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-53), the board shall permit each electric public utility and gas public utility to recover some or all of the following costs through a societal benefits charge that shall be collected as a non-bypassable charge imposed on all electric public utility customers and gas public utility customers, as appropriate:
(1) The costs for the social programs for which rate recovery was approved by the board prior to April 30, 1997. For the purpose of establishing initial unbundled rates pursuant to section 4 of [this act] P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-52), the societal benefits charge shall be set to recover the same level of social program costs as is being collected in the bundled rates of the electric public utility on the effective date of this act. The board may subsequently order, pursuant to its rules and regulations, an increase or decrease in the societal benefits charge to reflect changes in the costs to the utility of administering existing social programs. Nothing in this act shall be construed to abolish or change any social program required by statute or board order or rule or regulation to be provided by an electric public utility. Any such social program shall continue to be provided by the utility until otherwise provided by law, unless the board determines that it is no longer appropriate for the electric public utility to provide the program, or the board chooses to modify the program;
(2) Nuclear plant decommissioning costs;
(3) The costs of demand side
management programs that were approved by the board pursuant to its demand side
management regulations prior to April 30, 1997. For the purpose of
establishing initial unbundled rates pursuant to section 4 of [this act] P.L.1999, c.23
(C.48:3-52), the societal benefits charge shall be set to recover the same
level of demand side management program costs as is being collected in the
bundled rates of the electric public utility on the effective date of this
act. Within four months of the effective date of this act, and every four
years thereafter, the board shall initiate a proceeding and cause to be
undertaken a comprehensive
resource analysis of energy programs, and within eight months of initiating such proceeding and after notice, provision of the opportunity for public comment, and public hearing, the board, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall determine the appropriate level of funding for energy efficiency and Class I renewable energy programs that provide environmental benefits above and beyond those provided by standard offer or similar programs in effect as of the effective date of this act; provided that the funding for such programs be no less than 50% of the total Statewide amount being collected in public electric and gas utility rates for demand side management programs on the effective date of this act for an initial period of four years from the issuance of the first comprehensive resource analysis following the effective date of this act, and provided that 25% of this amount shall be used to provide funding for Class I renewable energy projects in the State. In each of the following fifth through eighth years, the Statewide funding for such programs shall be no less than 50 percent of the total Statewide amount being collected in public electric and gas utility rates for demand side management programs on the effective date of this act, except that as additional funds are made available as a result of the expiration of past standard offer or similar commitments, the minimum amount of funding for such programs shall increase by an additional amount equal to 50 percent of the additional funds made available, until the minimum amount of funding dedicated to such programs reaches $140,000,000 total. After the eighth year the board shall make a determination as to the appropriate level of funding for these programs. Such programs shall include a program to provide financial incentives for the installation of Class I renewable energy projects in the State, and the board, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall determine the level and total amount of such incentives as well as the renewable technologies eligible for such incentives which shall include, at a minimum, photovoltaic, wind, and fuel cells. The board shall simultaneously determine, as a result of the comprehensive resource analysis, the programs to be funded by the societal benefits charge, the level of cost recovery and performance incentives for old and new programs and whether the recovery of demand side management programs' costs currently approved by the board may be reduced or extended over a longer period of time. The board shall make these determinations taking into consideration existing market barriers and environmental benefits, with the objective of transforming markets, capturing lost opportunities, making energy services more affordable for low income customers and eliminating subsidies for programs that can be delivered in the marketplace without electric public utility and gas public utility customer funding;
(4) Manufactured gas plant remediation costs, which shall be determined initially in a manner consistent with mechanisms in the remediation adjustment clauses for the electric public utility and gas public utility adopted by the board; and
(5) The cost, of consumer education, as determined by the board, which shall be in an amount that, together with the consumer education surcharge imposed on electric power supplier license fees pursuant to subsection h. of section 29 of [this act] P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-78) and the consumer education surcharge imposed on gas supplier license fees pursuant to subsection g. of section 30 of [this act] P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-79), shall be sufficient to fund the consumer education program established pursuant to section 36 of [this act] C.48:3-85).
On and after the date of enactment of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), all funds imposed and collected pursuant to this subsection which, as of the commencement of each State fiscal year, have not been allocated to the gas public utilities and electric public utilities to recover costs, as provided under this subsection, shall be appropriated to the public gas utilities and public electric utilities for the purpose of providing a credit to gas public utility customers and electric public utility customers in a manner to be determined by board regulation. Each customer shall be awarded a pro-rata share of the funds through a credit on his or her gas or electric bill within 120 days after the date of the appropriation. A customer that is a customer of a single public utility providing both electric service and gas service to that customer shall receive a pro rata share of the credit in connection with each service.
b. There is established in the Board of Public Utilities a nonlapsing fund to be known as the "Universal Service Fund." The board shall determine: the level of funding and the appropriate administration of the fund; the purposes and programs to be funded with monies from the fund; which social programs shall be provided by an electric public utility as part of the provision of its regulated services which provide a public benefit; whether the funds appropriated to fund the "Lifeline Credit Program" established pursuant to P.L.1979, c.197 (C.48:2-29.15 et seq.), the "Tenants' Lifeline Assistance Program" established pursuant to P.L.1981, c.210 [(C.48:2-29.31 et seq.)] C.48:2-29.30 et seq.), the funds received pursuant to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program established pursuant to 42U.S.C. s. 8621 et seq., and funds collected by electric and natural gas utilities, as authorized by the board, to offset uncollectible electricity and natural gas bills should be deposited in the fund; and whether new charges should be imposed to fund new or expanded social programs.
(cf: P.L.1999, c.23, s.12)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill provides that all funds collected in relation to the societal benefits charge (SBC) which, as of the commencement of each State fiscal year, have not been allocated to the electric and gas public utilities and to recover costs associated with the SBC shall be appropriated to the electric and gas public utilities for the purpose of providing a credit to electric and gas public utility customers in a manner to be determined by board regulation. Each customer shall be awarded a pro-rata share of the funds through a credit on that customer’s electric or gas bill, as appropriate.