H.P. 716 - L.D. 931
An Act to Provide for the Security of Certain Utility Information
Emergency preamble. Whereas, Acts of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, it is necessary that state agencies have timely access to information about the technical operations and facilities of public utilities in Maine to enable these agencies to carry out their roles in emergency preparedness and response, law enforcement and public health and safety activities; and
Whereas, the public release of some of that information may compromise the security of utility infrastructure and operations; and
Whereas, some of that information is needed to support current planning efforts related to potential energy emergencies in the State; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §1311-B is enacted to read:
§1311-B. Security of certain utility information
1. Designation of information as confidential. If the commission, on its own motion or on petition of any person or entity, determines that public access to specific information about public utility technical operations in the State could compromise the security of public utility systems to the detriment of the public interest, the commission shall issue an order designating that information as confidential. Information designated as confidential pursuant to this section may include, but is not limited to, emergency response plans and network diagrams. Information designated as confidential under this section is not a public record under Title 1, section 402, subsection 3.
2. Treatment of information by commission; generally. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the commission may not release information designated as confidential under subsection 1 and shall take appropriate steps to protect such information in its possession.
3. Access to information by parties in proceeding. Designation of information as confidential under subsection 1 does not limit the right of a party in a proceeding before the commission to obtain discovery of that information. Notwithstanding section 1311-A, subsection 1, paragraphs A and C, the commission may issue a protective order limiting discovery of information designated as confidential pursuant to subsection 1 if the commission finds that specific limits are necessary to protect the public interest.
4. Release of information to other state agencies. The commission may release information designated as confidential pursuant to subsection 1 or require the release of that information by a public utility to another state agency to the extent necessary to support emergency preparedness or response, law enforcement or other public health and safety activities. The commission shall consult with a public utility before releasing or requiring the release of confidential information about that utility to a state agency unless the commission determines that the public health and welfare require immediate release without such consultation. The commission shall notify a public utility within 2 business days of providing information about that utility to a state agency pursuant to this subsection. As soon as practicable after receiving notice from a state agency pursuant to subsection 5, paragraph B of the agency's intent to release the information, the commission shall notify the public utility of the agency's intent.
5. Release by other state agencies. A state agency that receives information about a public utility pursuant to subsection 4:
A. May not use that information for any purpose other than for the support of emergency preparedness or response, law enforcement or other public health and safety activities;
B. May not release that information to any other person or entity without prior notice to the commission unless the agency determines that immediate release of the information to one or more persons or entities is necessary for the protection of public health and safety; and
C. Shall, when finished with the use of any documents received from the commission or from a public utility pursuant to subsection 4, return the documents to the commission or the public utility, as appropriate.
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this Act takes effect when approved.
Effective May 14, 2001.
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