Bill Text: NJ S2871 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Prohibits public utility from increasing rates until conclusion of hearing and BPU determination that rate increase is just and reasonable.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-08-27 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee [S2871 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S2871-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2871

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED AUGUST 27, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits public utility from increasing rates until conclusion of hearing and BPU determination that rate increase is just and reasonable.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning public utility rate increase petitions and amending R.S.48:2-21 and R.S.48:2-21.1.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    R.S.48:2-21 is amended to read as follows:

     [Schedule of rates. (a)] R.S.48:2-21.     a.   The board may require every public utility to file with [it] the board complete schedules of every classification employed and of every individual or joint rate, toll, fare, or charge made, charged, or exacted by [it] a public utility for any product supplied or service rendered within this State, as specified in the requirement.

     [Fix rates. (b)]      b.   The board may after hearing, upon notice, by order in writing:

     [1.]   (1)   Fix just and reasonable individual rates, joint rates, tolls, charges, or schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage, and other special rates which shall be imposed, observed, and followed thereafter by any public utility, whenever the board shall determine any existing rate, toll, charge, or schedule thereof, commutation, mileage, or other special rate to be unjust, unreasonable, insufficient, or unjustly discriminatory or preferential.  In every such proceeding, the board shall complete and close the hearing within [6] six months and enter its final order within [8] eight months after the filing of the order of the board initiating such proceeding, when such proceeding is on the board's own motion; or after issue is joined through the filing of an answer to a complaint, when such proceeding is initiated by complaint.

     [2.]   (2)   Fix just and reasonable joint rates, which shall be charged, enforced, collected, and observed by railroads and street railroads in the carrying of freight.  Whenever the railroads or street railroads involved fail to agree upon the apportionment or division of a joint rate so established, the board may issue a supplemental order declaring the apportionment or division of the joint rate.

     [Demurrage rates. (c)]     c.   The board may fix the rates or charges to be made by any corporation subject to the provisions of this chapter for the detention of a railroad car containing property transported by railroad to any point in this State or for the use of railroad tracks occupied by such car, commonly called demurrage or car service, or for both such detention and use.  Such rates and charges shall conform as nearly as possible to the rates and charges for demurrage or car service prescribed and fixed by the Interstate Commerce Commission or successor federal agency for similar service.

     [Increase in rates; hearings. (d)]       d.   When any public utility [shall] petitions the board to increase any existing individual rates, joint rates, tolls, charges, or schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage, and other special rates, or change or alter any existing classification, the board, either upon written complaint or upon its own initiative, shall have power after hearing, upon notice, by order in writing, to determine whether the increase, change, or alteration is just and reasonable.  The burden of proof to show that the increase, change, or alteration is just and reasonable shall be upon the public utility making the [same] petition[The] Except as provided in subsection b. of R.S.48:2-21.1, the board, pending such hearing and determination, may order the suspension of the [increase,] change or alteration until the board shall have approved the [same] change or alteration, not exceeding [4] four months.  If the hearing and determination shall not have been concluded within such [4] four months, the board may, during such hearing and determination, order a further suspension for an additional period not exceeding, [4] four months.  The board shall approve the [increase,] change or alteration upon being satisfied that the [same] change or alteration is just and reasonable.

(cf: P.L.1962, c.198, s.13)

 

     2.    R.S.48:2-21.1 is amended to read as follows:

     [The] R.S.48:2-21.1.     a.   Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, the board [may], during the pendency of any hearing instituted by it, on its own initiative, or on petition, in which the approval or fixing of just and reasonable individual rates, joint rates, tolls, charges, or schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage or other special rates is in issue, or at any other time, may negotiate and agree with any public utility for an adjustment of the individual rates, joint rates, tolls, charges, or schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage or other special rates for any product or service supplied or rendered by such public utility.  Such adjustment may be for, or without, a specified limit of time.  In no event shall any such adjustment be regarded as contractual.  Such adjustment shall at all times be subject to change through the proceedings provided for by this chapter, or through negotiation and agreement under this [section] subsection.  The board, as a part of any such negotiation and adjustment, shall provide for the continuance, suspension, or other disposition of any hearing of the character aforesaid then pending.

     b.    If a public utility petitions the board to increase an individual rate, joint rate, toll, charge, or schedule thereof, pursuant to R.S.48:2-21, for a product supplied or service rendered by the public utility, the board shall not allow the public utility that petitioned the board to increase an individual rate, joint rate, toll, charge, or schedule for that product supplied or service rendered until the hearing on the petition has concluded and the board has determined that the increase is just and reasonable.

(cf: P.L.1962, c.198, s.14)

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately, but shall remain inoperative for 60 days following the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill prohibits a public utility from increasing any rate for a product supplied or service rendered until the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has determined, at the conclusion of the hearing on the rate increase petition, that the rate increase is just and reasonable.  Current law allows a public utility to increase its rates for a product supplied or service rendered, upon receiving BPU approval, prior to the conclusion of a rate increase hearing and the BPU making a determination that the rate increase is just and reasonable.

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