Connecticut Seal

House Bill No. 7601

October 25 Special Session, Public Act No. 05-4

AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR REVISIONS TO THE EMERGENCY HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE ACT.

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

Section 1. Section 2 of public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) For purposes of this section:

(1) "HEARTH program" means the home energy assistance and reimbursements for tune-ups on heating equipment grant program, as established by this section;

(2) "Eligible contractor" means a [petroleum product dealer registered pursuant to section 16a-22a of the general statutes] contractor, as defined in section 20-330 of the general statutes, licensed pursuant to chapter 393 of the general statutes, a public service gas technician, as defined in section 20-540 of the general statutes, a gas company, as defined in section 16-1 of the general statutes, as amended by sections 1 and 2 of public act 05-1 of the June special session, an electric distribution company, as defined in said section 16-1, or a municipal utility;

(3) "Eligible good or service" means home heating equipment tune-ups or the installation [or provision] of water heater blankets, window film or programmable thermostats; and

(4) "Secretary" means the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.

(b) The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, in conjunction with the Commissioner of Social Services, shall establish a home energy assistance and reimbursements for tune-ups on heating equipment grant program for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. Pursuant to such program, the secretary shall reimburse an eligible contractor in an amount not exceeding fifty dollars per household for an eligible good provided or eligible service performed.

(c) The commissioner shall administer the HEARTH program for households that are eligible for the Connecticut energy assistance program, as amended by the provisions of section 1 of [this act] public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session, in accordance with Connecticut energy assistance program procedures for households heating with deliverable fuels or natural gas.

(d) (1) The secretary shall administer the HEARTH program for households that are not eligible for the Connecticut energy assistance program, as amended by the provisions of section 1 of [this act] public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session. The secretary may, subject to the provisions of chapter 67 of the general statutes, employ such agents, assistants and employees as he or she deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. The secretary may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to implement the provisions of this section.

(2) Households that do not qualify for the Connecticut energy assistance program, as amended by the provisions of section 1 of [this act] public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session, may request from the secretary a prequalification certificate for not more than fifty dollars of eligible goods or services. An eligible contractor shall not apply to the secretary for reimbursement pursuant to the HEARTH program for eligible goods and services unless the eligible contractor submits such certificate, along with a copy of the invoice, with its application to the secretary.

(e) An eligible contractor that submits an application pursuant to the HEARTH program shall not charge the subject customer a price for a good or service that is in excess of a price for the same good or service for a customer who does not have a prequalification certificate for the HEARTH program or who is not eligible for the Connecticut energy assistance program, as amended by the provisions of section 1 of [this act] public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session. Eligible contractors who will receive reimbursement pursuant to this program shall deduct the amount of such reimbursement from any invoice provided to the subject customer for the eligible good or service. Failure to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be deemed to be an unfair trade practice within the provisions of chapter 735a of the general statutes.

Sec. 2. Section 4 of public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective December 15, 2005, and applicable to sales occurring on or after December 15, 2005):

(a) For purposes of this section, "residential weatherization products" means programmable thermostats, window film, caulking, window and door weather strips, insulation, water heater blankets, water heaters, [that meet the federal Energy Star standard,] natural gas and propane furnaces and boilers that meet the federal Energy Star standard, windows and doors that meet the federal Energy Star standard, [and oil furnaces] oil furnaces and boilers that are not less than eighty-five per cent efficient and ground-based heat pumps that meet the minimum federal energy efficiency rating.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of the general statutes, from November 25, 2005, to April 1, 2006, the provisions of chapter 219 of the general statutes shall not apply to sales of any residential weatherization products.

Sec. 3. Section 10 of public act 05-2 of the October 25 special session is repealed and substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Energy resource" shall include, but not be limited to, middle distillate, residual fuel oil, motor gasoline, propane, aviation gasoline and aviation turbine fuel, natural gas, electricity, coal and coal products, wood fuels and any other resource yielding energy;

(2) "Seller" shall include, but not be limited to, a supplier, wholesaler, distributor or retailer involved in the sale or distribution in this state of an energy resource;

(3) "Abnormal market disruption" refers to any stress to an energy resource market resulting from weather conditions, acts of nature, failure or shortage of a source of energy, strike, civil disorder, war, national or local emergency, oil spill or other extraordinary [averse] adverse circumstance.

(b) No seller during any period of abnormal market disruption or during any period in which an imminent abnormal market disruption is reasonably anticipated shall sell or offer to sell an energy resource for an amount that represents an unconscionably excessive price.

(c) Evidence that (1) the amount charged represents a gross disparity between the price of an energy resource that was the subject of the transaction and the price at which such energy resource was sold or offered for sale by the seller in the usual course of business immediately prior to (A) the onset of an abnormal market disruption, or (B) any period in which an imminent abnormal market disruption is reasonably anticipated, and (2) the amount charged by the seller was not attributable to additional costs incurred by the seller in connection with the sale of such product, shall constitute prima facie evidence that a price is unconscionably excessive.

(d) This section shall not be construed to limit the ability of the Commissioner of Consumer Protection or the courts to establish certain acts or practices as unfair or unconscionable in the absence of abnormal market disruptions.

Approved December 1, 2005