Summary: H.R.4018 — 95th Congress (1977-1978)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Conference report filed in House (10/10/1978)

(Conference report filed in House, H. Rept. 95-1750)

Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act - =Title I: Retail Regulatory Policies for Electric Utilities= - Stipulates that utilities covered by this title shall be determined according to specified total retail sales of electricity in a baseline year. Declares that where a Federal agency makes wholesale sales of electric energy to an electric utility, any contract entered into or renewed after the date of enactment will not prevent implementation of any standards for electric utilities or of any intervention and judicial review procedures under this Title.

Requires State regulatory authorities and each nonregulated utility to consider how implementation of standards imposed by this Act would affect each utility and its consumers in terms of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and equitable rates and to determine whether or not to implement such standards.

Requires that electric utility rates for each class of electric consumers shall be based on the costs of providing such service to such classes.

Prohibits the use of declining block rates unless the costs of providing services to a particular class decreases as kilowatt-hour consumption increases.

Establishes time of day and seasonal rates to account for variations in load curves, and establishes standards relating to interruptible rates and local management techniques.

Prohibits or restricts the use of master metering in new buildings to the extent necessary to comply with this Title.

Specifies criteria for the use of automatic adjustment clauses to increase rates. Sets forth minimum requirements for the transmission of rate-schedule information to consumers.

Prohibits the recovery of promotional or political advertising costs from any person other than shareholders or other owners.

Authorizes the adoption of lifeline rates for electric service.

Sets forth criteria for determining whether or not to implement the standards established under this Title.

Imposes reporting requirements on State regulatory authorities, nonregulated utilities, and the Secretary of Energy on the progress of carrying out the provisions of this Title.

Recognizes the need to adopt the standards set forth herein to local conditions and particular situations and authorizes State regulatory authorities and nonregulated utilities to deviate from such standards to the extent permitted by State law where necessary.

Creates a Federal right of pratcipation and intervention in ratemaking and other regulatory proceedings to further the purposes of this Title.

Provides a mechanism to assure that the interests of electric consumers will be represented at State-level proceedings concerning standards set forth in this Title.

Limits the jurisdiction of the Federal courts to specified matters, and places review and enforcement matters within State court jurisdiction.

Authorizes the Secretary to prescribe voluntary guidelines on interpreting the standards set forth under this Title and to provide technical assistance to State regulatory authorities upon request to assist them im complying with the provisions of this Title.

Imposes filing and publication requirements on electric utilities with respect to information gathered to determine electric service costs.

Amends the Energy Conservation and Production Act to authorize the Secretary to make grants to State utility regulatory commissions and nonregulated utilities to carry out the provisions of this Title.

Authorizes appropriations necessary for carrying out the provisions of this Title.

=Title II: Certain Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy Authorities= - Amends the Federal Power Act to authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order, upon application of specified utilities and power suppliers, interconnections between the applicant and any other utility or power supplier and authorizes other specified actions. Amends such Act to permit electric utilities to apply to the Commission for an order requiring another electric utility to provide or wheel power to the applicant including any enlargement of transmission facilities. Establishes application procedures and for issuing such orders.

Authorizes the Commission to exempt electric utilities from State laws, rules, or regulations prohibiting voluntary pooling, where specified circumstances exist.

Requires public utilities to report anticipated shortages affecting their wholesale customers, and to submit contingency plans to accomodate such shortages.

Requires the Commission to review the use of automatic adjustment clauses at least every four years.

Requires the Secretary to prepare and submit to the President and the Congress a study on improving the reliability of electric service to consumers.

Directs the Commission to prescribe rules requiring electric utilities to offer to sell electric energy to any qualifying cogenerator, or small power producer and to offer to purchase electric energy from such entities.

Requires the Commission to prescribe rules exempting qualifying cogenerators and small power producers in whole or in part from the Federal Power Act and/or the Public Utility Holding Company Act.

Amends the Federal Power Act to exempt certain conduit hydroelectric facilities from the licensing requirement of such Act.

Amends the Federal Power Act to establish an Office of Public Participation within the Commission to coordinate assistance to intervenors provided by the Commission in all significant proceedings before the Commission.

Authorizes appropriations for purposes of compensating such intervenors where they could not otherwise afford to participate in Commission proceedings.

=Title III: Retail Policies for Natural Gas Utilities= - Stipulates that utilities covered by this Title shall be determined according the specified total retail sales of natural gas in a baseline year. Excludes wholesale sales from the provisions of this Title.

Prohibits gas utilities from recovering through their rates the expense of any promotional or political advertising.

Sets forth minimum procedural standards which State regulatory authorities and nonregulated utilities must establish to terminate natural gas service to any consumer.

Authorizes the Secretary to intervene in any proceeding which relates to utility rates or rate design of regulated and nonregulated utilities.

Directs the Secretary, in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to study and report to Congress on gas utility rate design, together with proposals to improve such rate design and to encourage conservation of natural gas.

Limits the jurisdiction of the Federal courts to specified matters under this Title, and places review and enforcement matters within State court jurisdiction.

Imposes specified reporting requirements on State regulatory authorities, nonregulated utilities, and the Secretary.

=Title IV: Small Hydroelectric Power Projects= - Establishes a program for the construction of small, hydroelectric power projects in connection with existing dams, including loans for feasibility studies, application preparation, and construction. Directs the Commission to establish a licensing procedure for such projects.

Prohibits the making of loans for new dam construction and excludes new dams from licensing procedures established under this Title.

Authorizes appropriations for carrying out the provisions of this Title.

=Title V: Crude Oil Transportation Systems= - Specifies which crude oil transportation system applications are eligible for consideration under this Title.

Directs the Secretary of the Interior, after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies, to establish an expedited schedule for reviewing and making recommendations concerning applications for construction and operation of crude oil transportation systems.

Declares that nothing in this Act shall authorize or imply an exemption from antitrust law provisions.

Requires all environmental impact statements concerning crude oil transportation systems eligible for consideration under this Title be completed, commented upon, revised, and submitted to the President and the Council on Environmental Quality by a specified time.

Directs the President to determine which proposals, if any, shall be approved, and sets forth criteria for making such a determination.

Authorizes the President to identify provisions of Federal law which should be waived to facilitate construction or operation of any approved crude oil transportation system, and specifies the language of the joint resolution to be used by the President in proposing such waivers.

Directs the Secretary and other appropriate Federal officials to take all actions necessary to provide rights-of-way, permits, leases, and other authorizations necessary for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the transportation system approved under this Title. States that rights-of-way over Federal land shall be governed according to the provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.

Directs the President to enter into further negotiations with the Government of Canada to determine necessary measures for expediting Canadian procedures for approved crude oil transportation systems.

Stipulates that actions seeking judicial review of a Federal decision relating to the approval or the permitting of a crude oil transportation system are required to be brought in a United States district court within 60 days following the date of such decision.

Authorizes the appropriation of $500,000 for fiscal year 1978 and $1,000,000 for fiscal year 1979 to carry out the provisions of this Title.

=Title VI: Miscellaneous Provisions= - Directs the Secretary of Energy to prepare and submit to the Congress a report on the effects of Federal law on the establishment of State utility agency rates.

Authorizes the Secretary to acquire rights-of- way by purchase, including eminent domain, through North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska for transmission facilities to Canada to take advantage of the complimentary seasonal variation in energy demand in Canada and the above named States.

Authorizes the Secretary to make matching grants to an institute established by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to provide State regulatory authorities with applied research on utility regulatory policy issues and with data processing methods for utility ratemaking.

Authorizes the appropriation of $2,000,000 for each of fiscal years 1979 and 1980 for the purposes of making such grants.

Amends the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to increase the number of coal research laboratories established at institutions of higher education. Authorizes appropriations for such purpose.

Authorizes the Commission to allow for successful conservation measures taken by a gas utility in revising any base period established under a gas curtailment plan.

Directs the Commission to promulgate regulations facilitating voluntary conversion of electric powerplants and major fuel-burning installations using natural gas to the use of heavy petroleum fuel oil.

Authorizes the President to declare a natural gas supply emergency upon finding that a severe natural gas shortage exists or is imminent. Authorizes the President to prohibit major fuel burning installations and electric powerplants from burning natural gas during such declared emergencies. Exempts any such facility from an emergency order if necessary to prevent an air-quality emergency endangering human health pursuant to the Clean Air Act.