CS for CS for CS for SB 272                First Engrossed (ntc)
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to water utilities; creating s.
    3         367.072, F.S.; providing legislative findings;
    4         defining the term “customer”; authorizing the Florida
    5         Public Service Commission to revoke a certificate of
    6         authorization upon receipt of a petition; providing
    7         criteria for such petition; authorizing the commission
    8         to adopt rules; creating s. 367.0812, F.S.; requiring
    9         the commission to consider the quality of water
   10         service when fixing rates; providing criteria that the
   11         commission must consider in making its determination;
   12         requiring the utility to meet with its customers to
   13         discuss the costs and benefits of plausible solutions
   14         if the commission finds that the utility has failed to
   15         meet certain quality of water standards; prohibiting a
   16         customer from petitioning the commission to revoke the
   17         certificate of authorization of a utility under
   18         certain circumstances; authorizing the commission to
   19         prescribe penalties for certain failures of the
   20         utility; requiring the commission to adopt rules;
   21         providing an appropriation; providing an effective
   22         date.
   24  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   26         Section 1. Section 367.072, Florida Statutes, is created to
   27  read:
   28         367.072Petition to revoke certificate of authorization.
   29  The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest that
   30  water service be of good quality and consistent with the
   31  standards set forth in this chapter. Therefore, a utility’s
   32  certificate of authorization to provide water service may be
   33  revoked if, after its customers file a petition with the
   34  commission, the commission finds that revocation is in the best
   35  interest of the customers in accordance with this section. As
   36  used in this section, the term “customer” means an individual
   37  whose property is serviced by a single meter or a person whose
   38  name appears on the bill for a master meter.
   39         (1)(a) If the commission receives a letter from the
   40  customers of a utility stating their intent to file a petition
   41  pursuant to this section, the commission staff, within 10 days
   42  after receipt of the letter, shall notify the utility of the
   43  customers’ intent to file a petition.
   44         (b) Commission staff shall send to the customers
   45  instructions regarding the information required on the petition
   46  and the subsequent process the commission will follow. The
   47  petition must be filed within 90 days after the receipt of the
   48  instructions. Commission staff shall review the petition and
   49  notify the customers within 10 days after receipt of the
   50  petition that the petition is sufficient for the commission to
   51  act or that additional information is necessary. The customers
   52  must file a cured petition within 30 days after receipt of the
   53  notice to cure and provide a copy of the petition to the
   54  utility. If the customers fail to file or refile a petition
   55  within the allotted time, the commission shall dismiss the
   56  petition with prejudice, and the customers may not file another
   57  petition for 1 year after the dismissal.
   58         (2) A petition must:
   59         (a) State with specificity each issue that customers have
   60  with the quality of water service, each time the issue was
   61  reported to the utility, and how long each issue has existed;
   62  and
   63         (b) Be signed by at least 65 percent of the customers of
   64  the service area covered under the certificate of authorization.
   65  A person whose name appears on the bill for a master meter may
   66  sign a petition if at least 65 percent of the customers,
   67  tenants, or unit owners served by the master meter support the
   68  petition, in which case documentation of such support must be
   69  included with the petition.
   70         (3) If the petition is in compliance with this section and
   71  the issues identified within the petition support a reasonable
   72  likelihood that the utility is failing to provide quality of
   73  water service, the utility shall thereafter be prohibited from
   74  filing a rate case until the commission has issued a final order
   75  addressing the issues identified in the petition. The utility
   76  shall use the following criteria in preparing a response to the
   77  commission, addressing the issues identified within the petition
   78  and defending the quality of its water service:
   79         (a)Federal and state primary water quality standards or
   80  secondary water quality standards pursuant to s. 367.0812; and
   81         (b)The relationship between the utility and its customers,
   82  including each complaint received regarding the quality of water
   83  service, the length of time each customer has been complaining
   84  about the service, the resolution of each complaint, and the
   85  time it has taken to address such complaints.
   86         (4)The commission shall evaluate the issues identified in
   87  the petition, the utility’s response as to whether it is
   88  providing quality of water service, and any other factor the
   89  commission deems relevant.
   90         (5)Based upon its evaluation, the commission shall:
   91         (a)Dismiss the petition, in which case the decision must
   92  be supported by clear and convincing evidence and is subject to
   93  ss. 120.569 and 120.57;
   94         (b)Require the utility to take the necessary steps to
   95  correct the quality of water service issues identified in the
   96  petition. The commission shall set benchmarks within a
   97  timeframe, not to exceed 3 years, and may require the utility to
   98  provide interim reports describing its progress in meeting such
   99  benchmarks. The commission may extend the term 3 years for
  100  circumstances that delay the project which are not in the
  101  control of the utility, such as natural disasters and obtaining
  102  permits necessary for meeting such benchmarks; or
  103         (c)Notwithstanding s. 367.045, revoke the utility’s
  104  certificate of authorization, in which case a receiver must be
  105  appointed pursuant to s. 367.165 until a sale of the utility
  106  system has been approved pursuant to s. 367.071.
  107         (6)The commission shall adopt by rule the format of and
  108  requirements for a petition and may adopt other rules to
  109  administer this section.
  110         Section 2. Section 367.0812, Florida Statutes, is created
  111  to read:
  112         367.0812 Rate fixing; quality of water service as
  113  criterion.—
  114         (1) In fixing rates that are just, reasonable,
  115  compensatory, and not unfairly discriminatory, the commission
  116  shall consider the extent to which the utility provides water
  117  service that meets secondary water quality standards as
  118  established by the Department of Environmental Protection. In
  119  determining whether a utility has satisfied its obligation to
  120  provide quality of water service that meets these standards, the
  121  commission shall consider:
  122         (a) Testimony and evidence provided by customers and the
  123  utility;
  124         (b) The results of past tests required by a county health
  125  department or the Department of Environmental Protection which
  126  measure the utility’s compliance with the applicable secondary
  127  water quality standards;
  128         (c) Complaints regarding the applicable secondary water
  129  quality standards filed by customers with the commission, the
  130  Department of Environmental Protection, the respective local
  131  governmental entity, or a county health department during the
  132  past 5 years; and
  133         (d) If the commission deems necessary, the results of any
  134  updated test.
  135         (2)(a) In determining the quality of water service, the
  136  commission shall consider a finding by the Department of
  137  Environmental Protection as to whether the utility has failed to
  138  provide water service that meets the secondary water quality
  139  standards of the department.
  140         (b) The utility shall create an estimate of the costs and
  141  benefits of a plausible solution to each issue identified by the
  142  commission.
  143         (c)The utility shall meet with its customers within a time
  144  prescribed by the commission to discuss the estimated costs and
  145  benefits of and time necessary for implementing a plausible
  146  solution for each quality of water service issue identified, and
  147  the utility shall report the results of such meetings to the
  148  commission.
  149         (d)The utility shall inform the commission, if:
  150         1.The customers and the utility agree on a solution for
  151  each quality of water service issue identified, of each agreed
  152  on solution and the cost of each solution; or
  153         2.The customers and the utility prefer a different
  154  solution to at least one of the quality of water service issues
  155  identified, of the preferred solutions by each and the cost of
  156  each solution.
  157         (e)The commission may require the utility to implement a
  158  solution that is in the best interest of the customers for each
  159  quality of water service issue. The utility may recover its
  160  costs in implementing the solutions ordered by the commission.
  161  The commission may establish the necessary benchmarks that a
  162  utility must meet for each solution and require the utility to
  163  report periodically until each solution is completed.
  164         (3) Notwithstanding s. 367.072, customers may not petition
  165  the commission to revoke the certificate of authorization of a
  166  utility if it is the subject of a proceeding under this chapter.
  167         (4) The commission may prescribe penalties for a utility’s
  168  failure to adequately resolve each quality of water service
  169  issue as required. Penalties may include penalties as provided
  170  in s. 367.161, a reduction of return on equity of up to 100
  171  basis points, the denial of all or part of a rate increase for a
  172  utility’s system or part of a system if it determines that the
  173  quality of water service is less than satisfactory until the
  174  quality of water is found to be satisfactory, or revocation of
  175  the certificate of authorization pursuant to s. 367.072.
  176         (5)The commission shall adopt rules to assess and enforce
  177  compliance with this section.
  178         Section 3. For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the sums of
  179  $212,521 in recurring funds and $12,012 in nonrecurring funds
  180  from the General Revenue Fund and three full-time equivalent
  181  positions with an associated salary rate of 131,235 are
  182  appropriated to the Florida Public Service Commission to
  183  implement the provisions of this act related to the regulation
  184  of the quality of water service.
  185         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.