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Substitute House Bill No. 6399

Public Act No. 03-47

AN ACT CONCERNING THE FILING OF INFORMATION REGARDING AMORTIZATION AGREEMENTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subdivisions (4) and (5) of subsection (b) of section 16-262c of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(4) In order for a residential customer of a gas or electric distribution company using gas or electricity for heat to be eligible to have any moneys due and owing deducted from the customer's delinquent account pursuant to this subdivision, the company furnishing gas or electricity shall require that the customer (A) apply and be eligible for benefits available under the Connecticut energy assistance program or state appropriated fuel assistance program; (B) authorize the company to send a copy of the customer's monthly bill directly to any energy assistance agency for payment; (C) enter into and comply with an amortization agreement, which agreement is consistent with decisions and policies of the Department of Public Utility Control. Such an amortization agreement shall reduce a customer's payment by the amount of the benefits reasonably anticipated from the Connecticut energy assistance program, state appropriated fuel assistance program or other energy assistance sources. Unless the customer requests otherwise, the company shall budget a customer's payments over a twelve-month period with an affordable increment to be applied to any arrearage, provided such payment plan will not result in loss of any energy assistance benefits to the customer. If a customer authorizes the company to send a copy of his monthly bill directly to any energy assistance agency for payment, the energy assistance agency shall make payments directly to the company. If, on April thirtieth, a customer has been in compliance with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, during the period starting on the preceding November first, or from such time as the customer's account becomes delinquent, the company shall deduct from such customer's delinquent account an additional amount equal to the amount of money paid by the customer between the preceding November first and April thirtieth and paid on behalf of the customer through the Connecticut energy assistance program and state appropriated fuel assistance program. Any customer in compliance with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, on April thirtieth who continues to comply with an amortization agreement through the succeeding October thirty-first, shall also have an amount equal to the amount paid pursuant to such agreement and any amount paid on behalf of such customer between May first and the succeeding October thirty-first deducted from the customer's delinquent account. In no event shall the deduction of any amounts pursuant to this subdivision result in a credit balance to the customer's account. No customer shall be denied the benefits of this subdivision due to an error by the [gas] company. The Department of Public Utility Control shall allow the amounts deducted from the customer's account pursuant to the implementation plan, described in subdivision (5) of this subsection, to be recovered by the company in its rates as an operating expense, pursuant to said implementation plan. If the customer fails to comply with the terms of the amortization agreement or any decision of the department rendered in lieu of such agreement and the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, the company may terminate service to the customer, pursuant to all applicable regulations, provided such termination shall not occur between November first and April fifteenth.

(5) Each gas and electric distribution company shall submit to the Department of Public Utility Control annually, on or before July first, an implementation plan which shall include information concerning amortization agreements, counseling, reinstatement of eligibility, rate impacts and any other information deemed relevant by the department. The Department of Public Utility Control may, in consultation with the Office of Policy and Management, approve or modify such plan within ninety days of receipt of the plan. If the department does not take any action on such plan within ninety days of its receipt, the plan shall automatically take effect at the end of the ninety-day period, provided the department may extend such period for an additional thirty days by notifying the [gas] company before the end of the ninety-day period. Any amount recovered by a company in its rates pursuant to this subsection shall not include any amount approved by the Department of Public Utility Control as an uncollectible expense. The department may deny all or part of the recovery required by this subsection if it determines that the company seeking recovery has been imprudent, inefficient or acting in violation of statutes or regulations regarding amortization agreements.

Approved May 23, 2003