62-2.  Declaration of policy.

(a)        Upon investigation, it has been determined that the rates, services and operations of public utilities as defined herein, are affected with the public interest and that the availability of an adequate and reliable supply of electric power and natural gas to the people, economy and government of North Carolina is a matter of public policy. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State of North Carolina:

(1)        To provide fair regulation of public utilities in the interest of the public;

(2)        To promote the inherent advantage of regulated public utilities;

(3)        To promote adequate, reliable and economical utility service to all of the citizens and residents of the State;

(3a)      To assure that resources necessary to meet future growth through the provision of adequate, reliable utility service include use of the entire spectrum of demand-side options, including but not limited to conservation, load management and efficiency programs, as additional sources of energy supply and/or energy demand reductions. To that end, to require energy planning and fixing of rates in a manner to result in the least cost mix of generation and demand-reduction measures which is achievable, including consideration of appropriate rewards to utilities for efficiency and conservation which decrease utility bills;

(4)        To provide just and reasonable rates and charges for public utility services without unjust discrimination, undue preferences or advantages, or unfair or destructive competitive practices and consistent with long-term management and conservation of energy resources by avoiding wasteful, uneconomic and inefficient uses of energy;

(4a)      To assure that facilities necessary to meet future growth can be financed by the utilities operating in this State on terms which are reasonable and fair to both the customers and existing investors of such utilities; and to that end to authorize fixing of rates in such a manner as to result in lower costs of new facilities and lower rates over the operating lives of such new facilities by making provisions in the rate-making process for the investment of public utilities in plants under construction;

(5)        To encourage and promote harmony between public utilities, their users and the environment;

(6)        To foster the continued service of public utilities on a well-planned and coordinated basis that is consistent with the level of energy needed for the protection of public health and safety and for the promotion of the general welfare as expressed in the State energy policy;

(7)        To seek to adjust the rate of growth of regulated energy supply facilities serving the State to the policy requirements of statewide development;

(8)        To cooperate with other states and with the federal government in promoting and coordinating interstate and intrastate public utility service and reliability of public utility energy supply;

(9)        To facilitate the construction of facilities in and the extension of natural gas service to unserved areas in order to promote the public welfare throughout the State and to that end to authorize the creation of expansion funds for natural gas local distribution companies or gas districts to be administered under the supervision of the North Carolina Utilities Commission; and

(10)      To promote the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency through the implementation of a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) that will do all of the following:

a.         Diversify the resources used to reliably meet the energy needs of consumers in the State.

b.         Provide greater energy security through the use of indigenous energy resources available within the State.

c.         Encourage private investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

d.         Provide improved air quality and other benefits to energy consumers and citizens of the State.

(b)        To these ends, therefore, authority shall be vested in the North Carolina Utilities Commission to regulate public utilities generally, their rates, services and operations, and their expansion in relation to long-term energy conservation and management policies and statewide development requirements, and in the manner and in accordance with the policies set forth in this Chapter. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to imply any extension of Utilities Commission regulatory jurisdiction over any industry or enterprise that is not subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of said Commission.

Because of technological changes in the equipment and facilities now available and needed to provide telephone and telecommunications services, changes in regulatory policies by the federal government, and changes resulting from the court-ordered divestiture of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, competitive offerings of certain types of telephone and telecommunications services may be in the public interest. Consequently, authority shall be vested in the North Carolina Utilities Commission to allow competitive offerings of local exchange, exchange access, and long distance services by public utilities defined in G.S. 62-3(23)a.6. and certified in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 62-110, and the Commission is further authorized after notice to affected parties and hearing to deregulate or to exempt from regulation under any or all provisions of this Chapter: (i) a service provided by any public utility as defined in G.S. 62-3(23)a.6. upon a finding that such service is competitive and that such deregulation or exemption from regulation is in the public interest; or (ii) a public utility as defined in G.S. 62-3(23)a.6., or a portion of the business of such public utility, upon a finding that the service or business of such public utility is competitive and that such deregulation or exemption from regulation is in the public interest.

Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 62-110(b) and G.S. 62-134(h), the following services provided by public utilities defined in G.S. 62-3(23)a.6. are sufficiently competitive and shall no longer be regulated by the Commission: (i) intraLATA long distance service; (ii) interLATA long distance service; and (iii) long distance operator services. A public utility providing such services shall be permitted, at its own election, to file and maintain tariffs for such services with the Commission up to and including September 1, 2003. Nothing in this subsection shall limit the Commission's authority regarding certification of providers of such services or its authority to hear and resolve complaints against providers of such services alleged to have made changes to the services of customers or imposed charges without appropriate authorization. For purposes of this subsection, and notwithstanding G.S. 62-110(b), "long distance services" shall not include existing or future extended area service, local measured service, or other local calling arrangements, and any future extended area service shall be implemented consistent with Commission rules governing extended area service existing as of May 1, 2003.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission may develop regulatory policies to govern the provision of telecommunications services to the public which promote efficiency, technological innovation, economic growth, and permit telecommunications utilities a reasonable opportunity to compete in an emerging competitive environment, giving due regard to consumers, stockholders, and maintenance of reasonably affordable local exchange service and long distance service.

(b1)      Broadband service provided by public utilities as defined in G.S. 62-3(23)a.6. is sufficiently competitive and shall not be regulated by the Commission.

(c)        The policy and authority stated in this section shall be applicable to common carriers of passengers by motor vehicle and their regulation by the North Carolina Utilities Commission only to the extent that they are consistent with the provisions of the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1985. (1963, c. 1165, s. 1; 1975, c. 877, s. 2; 1977, c. 691, s. 1; 1983 (Reg. Sess., 1984), c. 1043, s. 1; 1985, c. 676, s. 3; 1987, c. 354; 1989, c. 112, s. 1; 1991, c. 598, s. 1; 1995, c. 27, s. 1; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 742, ss. 29-32; 1998-132, s. 18; 2003-91, s. 1; 2005-95, s. 1; 2007-397, s. 1.)