Since its filing on April 2, Senate Bill 559: Storm Securitization/Alt. Rates has caught the attention of North Carolina’s business community, generating strong feelings of support and opposition. This bill includes two provisions, one that would allow for storm securitization and another that proposes an alternative rate making model. As I’m sure you’ve noticed in our weekly publication, This Week at the Capital, we have been monitoring this bill and its movements closely.
After Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and even winter storm Diego, walloped our state and left countless North Carolinians reeling from their impacts, it was as clear that there needs to be a plan in place to predictably pay for recovery. For businesses, extended power outages can greatly impact bottom lines, forcing closures, lost productivity and significant monetary losses. The NC Chamber supports the storm securitization provision in this bill, as it would allow for the formation of bonds to pay for storm recovery, creating greater predictability for customers, utilities and the state regulator.
While storm securitization is widely supported, the alternative rate making provision has created concerns among job creators across the state. The alternative rate making provision was amended last week and it appears legislators have addressed some of the concerns expressed by the business community. As we understand, the bill now explicitly gives the Utilities Commission the statutory authority to consider multi-year rates or banded rates and in no way forces the Commission to set rates. As such, it does not order the Commission to adhere to the time frames proposed in the bill, and if the Commission chooses, it does not have to wait for a new rate case to make changes. It can also deny proposed rate changes if it deems fit.
We have been soliciting feedback on this legislation from our members over the last several weeks and we’d like to hear from you. Please take this brief survey to tell us what you think about Senate Bill 559.
This is an important issue to many businesses and North Carolina’s overall competitiveness, which is why it is imperative that we continue to hear from our members. We will continue working with our many members that represent North Carolina’s various industries to collaboratively develop a broad-based solution that provides the necessary predictability for utilities and energy purchasers, as investments are made to maintain our state’s energy competitiveness.
Gary J. Salamido
Chief Operating Officer and Acting President