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.

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(1)        Repealed by Session Laws 2000-140, s. 56, effective July 21, 2000.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)        The public utility regulatory fee for each fiscal year shall be the greater of (i) a percentage rate, established by the General Assembly, of each public utility's North Carolina jurisdictional revenues for each quarter or (ii) six dollars and twenty-five cents ($6.25) each quarter.

When the Commission prepares its budget request for the upcoming fiscal year, the Commission shall propose a percentage rate of the public utility regulatory fee. For fiscal years beginning in an odd-numbered year, that proposed rate shall be included in the budget message the Governor submits to the General Assembly pursuant to G.S. 143C-3-5. For fiscal years beginning in an even-numbered year, that proposed rate shall be included in a special budget message the Governor shall submit to the General Assembly. The General Assembly shall set the percentage rate of the public utility regulatory fee by law.

The percentage rate may not exceed the amount necessary to generate funds sufficient to defray the estimated cost of the operations of the Commission and the Public Staff for the upcoming fiscal year, including a reasonable margin for a reserve fund. The amount of the reserve may not exceed the estimated cost of operating the Commission and the Public Staff for the upcoming fiscal year. In calculating the amount of the reserve, the General Assembly shall consider all relevant factors that may affect the cost of operating the Commission or the Public Staff or a possible unanticipated increase or decrease in North Carolina jurisdictional revenues.

(3)        If the Commission, the Public Staff, or both experience a revenue shortfall, the Commission shall implement a temporary public utility regulatory fee surcharge to avert the deficiency that would otherwise occur. In no event may the total percentage rate of the public utility regulatory fee plus any surcharge established by the Commission exceed twenty-five hundredths percent (0.25%).

(4)        As used in this section, the term "North Carolina jurisdictional revenues" means:

a.         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.         All revenues derived from retail services no longer otherwise regulated by the operation of G.S. 62-133.5(h) or G.S. 62-133.5(m) for a local exchange company or competing local provider that has elected to be regulated under those subsections.

(b1)      Electric Membership Corporation Rate. - The electric membership corporation regulatory fee for each fiscal year shall be a dollar amount as established by the General Assembly by law.

When the Commission prepares its budget request for the upcoming fiscal year, the Commission shall propose the amount of the electric membership corporation regulatory fee. For fiscal years beginning in an odd-numbered year, the proposed amount shall be included in the budget message the Governor submits to the General Assembly pursuant to G.S. 143C-3-5. For fiscal years beginning in an even-numbered year, the proposed amount shall be included in a special budget message the Governor shall submit to the General Assembly.

The amount of the electric membership corporation regulatory fee proposed by the Commission may not exceed the amount necessary to defray the estimated cost of the operations of the Commission and the Public Staff for the regulation of the electric membership corporations in the upcoming fiscal year, including a reasonable margin for a reserve fund. The amount of the reserve may not exceed the estimated cost of the Commission and the Public Staff for the regulation of the electric membership corporations for the upcoming fiscal year.

(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.  (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.)