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SENATE DOCKET, NO.                 FILED ON: 2/13/2012

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2136

 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand Twelve

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An Act relative to the emergency service response of public utility companies.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. Said chapter 25 as so appearing is hereby amended by inserting after section 12O the following section:-

              Section 12P. There shall be established upon the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Department of Public Utilities Storm Trust Fund. There shall be credited to this fund all amounts collected under the third paragraph of section 18 and any income derived from the investment of amounts credited to the fund. All amounts credited to the fund shall be held in trust and shall be available for expenditure, without further appropriation, by the department of public utilities, for activities of the department in investigating the preparation for and responses to storm and other emergency events by the electric companies.  Any unexpended balance in the fund at the close of a fiscal year shall remain in the fund and shall be available for expenditure in the following fiscal year.

              SECTION 2. Section 18 of said chapter 25, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following paragraph:-

              For the purpose of providing the department with additional operating funds for activities of the department in investigating the preparation for and responses to storm and other emergency events by the electric companies doing business in the commonwealth, the commission may make a separate assessment proportionally against each electric company under the jurisdictional control of the department, based upon the intrastate operating revenues subject to the jurisdiction of the department of each of such companies derived from sales within the commonwealth of electric service, as shown in the annual report of each of such companies to the department. This assessment shall be made at a rate that shall be determined and certified annually by the commission as sufficient to produce an annual amount of not less than $460,000, commencing in fiscal year 2012, plus the costs of fringe benefits and indirect costs as established by the commissioner of administration under section 5D of chapter 29, including group life and health insurance, retirement benefits, paid vacations, holidays and sick leave. The amount of the assessment may be increased by the commission annually by a rate not to exceed the most recent annual consumer price index as calculated for the northeast region for all urban consumers. Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, no electric company shall be entitled to seek recovery of any assessments made under this paragraph in any rate proceeding before the department. Each company shall pay the amount assessed against it within 30 days after the date of the notice of assessment from the department. Such assessments shall be collected by the department, and credited to the Department of Public Utilities Storm Trust Fund established by section 12P.

              SECTION 3. Chapter 164 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 1J the following section:-

              Section 1K.  Any penalty levied by the Department against an investor-owned electric distribution, transmission, or natural gas distribution company for any violation of the department’s standards of acceptable performance for emergency preparation and restoration of service for electric and gas distribution companies shall be credited to the affected customers of the penalized company.  The credit shall be distributed based upon the kWh used in the month or months during which the company incurred the penalty.  Said credit shall be credited during a single billing month and shall not be deferred.  Companies may petition the department to spread out the credit over a period of greater than one month if it exceeds $10,000,000.  The department shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of this section.

              SECTION 4. Subsection (a) of section 85B of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out paragraph (2), and inserting in place thereof, the following paragraph:

              (2) a communications system with customers during an emergency that includes continuous access to staff assistance and includes twice-daily updates on estimated return of service.  Such updates must begin upon completion of a damage assessment or after the first 24 hours of damage assessment, whichever comes first.

              SECTION 5. Paragraph (4) of said subsection (a) of said section 85B of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the word “agencies” in line 17, the following words:-  including staff posted at Massachusetts emergency management association’s Emergency Operations Center

              SECTION 6. Said subsection (a) of said section 85B of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after paragraph (7) the following paragraph:-

              (8) designation of a Massachusetts-based call center for service assistance for the duration of an emergency, or until full service is restored, whichever comes first.  Said call center must be staffed continuously for the length of the emergency and to ensure sufficient staffing levels to handle the extraordinary volume of customer calls. A call center within 50 miles of an investor-owned electric distribution, transmission or natural gas distribution company operating as of July 1, 2012 shall qualify for this section.

              SECTION 7. Said section 85B of said chapter 164, as so appearing,  is hereby further amended by inserting after subsection (d) the following subsections:-

              (e) Each investor-owned electric distribution, transmission or natural gas distribution company, when implementing an emergency response plan, must designate staff to remain stationed at the Massachusetts emergency management association’s Emergency Operations Center for the length of an emergency.  Said staff will coordinate communications efforts with local officials and emergency management officials, as required by this section.

              (f) Each investor-owned electric distribution, transmission or natural gas distribution company, when implementing an emergency response plan, must designate staff to serve as community liaisons in each municipality within their service territory.

              (g) Notwithstanding any existing power or authority, each electric distribution, transmission and natural gas distribution company conducting business in the commonwealth shall provide periodic reports to the department and the Massachusetts emergency management association regarding emergency conditions and restoration performance during an emergency event.

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