§ 62-302.  Regulatory fee.

(a)        Fee Imposed. - It is the policy of the State of North Carolina to provide fair regulation of public utilities in the interest of the public, as provided in G.S. 62-2. The cost of regulating public utilities is a burden incident to the privilege of operating as a public utility. Therefore, for the purpose of defraying the cost of regulating public utilities, every public utility subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission shall pay a quarterly regulatory fee, in addition to all other fees and taxes, as provided in this section. The fees collected shall be used only to pay the expenses of the Commission and the Public Staff in regulating public utilities in the interest of the public and to maintain a reasonable margin for a reserve fund. The amount of the reserve may not exceed one-half of the cost of operating the Commission and the Public Staff as reflected in the certified budget for the previous fiscal year.

It is also the policy of the State to provide limited oversight of certain electric membership corporations as provided in G.S. 62-53. Therefore, for the purpose of defraying the cost of providing the oversight authorized by G.S. 62-53 and G.S. 117-18.1, each fiscal year each electric membership corporation whose principal purpose is to furnish or cause to be furnished bulk electric supplies at wholesale as provided in G.S. 117-16 shall pay an annual fee as provided in this section.

(b)        Public Utility Rate. -

(1)        Repealed by Session Laws 2000-140, s. 56, effective July 21, 2000.

(2)        (Effective until July 1, 2016) Unless adjusted under subdivision (3) of this subsection, the public utility fee is a percentage of a utility's jurisdictional revenues as follows:

Noncompetitive jurisdiction revenues                                          0.148%

Subsection (h) competitive jurisdictional revenues                       0.06%

Subsection (m) competitive jurisdictional revenues                      0.05%

(2)        (Effective July 1, 2016) Unless adjusted under subdivision (3) of this subsection, the public utility fee is a percentage of a utility's jurisdictional revenues as follows:

Noncompetitive jurisdiction revenues                                          0.148%

Subsection (h) competitive jurisdictional revenues                       0.04%

Subsection (m) competitive jurisdictional revenues                      0.02%

(3)        In the first half of each calendar year, the Commission shall review the estimated cost of operating the Commission and the Public Staff for the next fiscal year, including a reasonable margin for the reserve fund allowed under this section. In making this determination, the Commission shall consider all relevant factors that may affect the cost of operating the Commission or the Public Staff or a possible unanticipated change in competitive and noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues. If the estimated receipts provided for under this section are less than the estimated cost of operating the Commission and the Public Staff for the next fiscal year, including the reasonable margin for the reserve fund, then the Commission may increase the public utility regulatory fee on noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues effective for the next fiscal year. In no event may the percentage rate of the public utility regulatory fee on noncompetitive jurisdiction revenues exceed seventeen and one-half hundredths of one percent (0.175%). If the estimated receipts provided for under this section are more than the estimated cost of operating the Commission and the Public Staff for the next fiscal year, including the reasonable margin for the reserve fund, then the Commission shall decrease the public utility regulatory fee on noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues effective for the next fiscal year.

(4)        As used in this section:

a.         "Noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues" means all revenues derived or realized from intrastate tariffs, rates, and charges approved or allowed by the Commission or collected pursuant to Commission order or rule, but not including tap-on fees or any other form of contributions in aid of construction.

b.         "Subsection (h) competitive jurisdictional revenues" means all revenues derived from retail services provided by local exchange companies and competing local providers that have elected to operate under G.S. 62-133.5(h).

c.         "Subsection (m) competitive jurisdictional revenues" means all revenues derived from retail services provided by local exchange companies and competing local providers that have elected to operate under G.S. 62-133.5(m).

(b1)      Electric Membership Corporation Rate. - The electric membership corporation regulatory fee for each fiscal year is two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000).

(c)        When Due. - The electric membership corporation regulatory fee imposed under this section shall be paid in quarterly installments. The fee is due and payable to the Commission on or before the 15th day of the second month following the end of each quarter.

The public utility regulatory fee imposed under this section is due and payable to the Commission on or before the 15th day of the second month following the end of each quarter. Every public utility subject to the public utility regulatory fee shall, on or before the date the fee is due for each quarter, prepare and render a report on a form prescribed by the Commission. The report shall state the public utility's total North Carolina jurisdictional revenues for the preceding quarter and shall be accompanied by any supporting documentation that the Commission may by rule require. Receipts shall be reported on an accrual basis.

If a public utility's report for the first quarter of any fiscal year shows that application of the percentage rate would yield a quarterly fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) or less, the public utility shall pay an estimated fee for the entire fiscal year in the amount of twenty-five dollars ($25.00). If, after payment of the estimated fee, the public utility's subsequent returns show that application of the percentage rate would yield quarterly fees that total more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the entire fiscal year, the public utility shall pay the cumulative amount of the fee resulting from application of the percentage rate, to the extent it exceeds the amount of fees, other than any surcharge, previously paid.

(d)       Use of Proceeds. - A special fund in the office of State Treasurer, the Utilities Commission and Public Staff Fund, is created. The fees collected pursuant to this section and all other funds received by the Commission or the Public Staff, except for the clear proceeds of civil penalties collected pursuant to G.S. 62-50(d) and the clear proceeds of funds forfeited pursuant to G.S. 62-310(a), shall be deposited in the Utilities Commission and Public Staff Fund. The Fund shall be placed in an interest bearing account and any interest or other income derived from the Fund shall be credited to the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall only be spent pursuant to appropriation by the General Assembly.

The Utilities Commission and Public Staff Fund shall be subject to the provisions of the State Budget Act except that no unexpended surplus of the Fund shall revert to the General Fund. All funds credited to the Utilities Commission and Public Staff Fund shall be used only to pay the expenses of the Commission and the Public Staff in regulating public utilities in the interest of the public as provided by this Chapter and in regulating electric membership corporations as provided in G.S. 117-18.1.

The clear proceeds of civil penalties collected pursuant to G.S. 62-50(d) and the clear proceeds of funds forfeited pursuant to G.S. 62-310(a) shall be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund in accordance with G.S. 115C-457.2.

(e)        Fee changes. - If a utility's regulatory fee obligation is changed, the Commission shall either adjust the utility's rates to reflect the change or approve the utility's request for an accounting order allowing deferral of the change in the fee obligation.  (1989, c. 787, s. 1; 1998-215, s. 126; 1999-180, s. 5; 2000-140, s. 56; 2006-203, s. 18; 2009-238, s. 6; 2011-52, s. 2; 2014-59, s. 1; 2015-134, ss. 1(a), 2, 3.)