H.P. 300 - L.D. 397
An Act To Promote the More Efficient Use of Natural Gas
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §4711 is enacted to read:
§4711. Conservation programs
1. Programs. In accordance with rules adopted by the commission, each natural gas utility in the State that serves 5,000 or more residential consumers shall offer cost-effective conservation programs designed to promote the efficient use of natural gas. In determining whether a program is cost-effective, the commission may consider the extent to which the program promotes sustainable economic development or reduces greenhouse gas emissions to the extent the commission can quantify or otherwise reasonably identify such effects. Consistent with the other requirements of this section, a gas utility, in adopting and implementing conservation programs, shall seek to encourage efficiency in natural gas use, provide incentives for the development of new, energy-efficient business activity in the State and take into account the cost and benefits of energy efficiency and conservation to existing business activity in the State.
A. The gas utility shall consider, without limitation, conservation programs that:
(1) Increase consumer awareness of cost-effective options for conserving energy;
(2) Create more favorable market conditions for the increased use of efficient products and services; and
(3) Promote sustainable economic development and reduced environmental damage.
B. The gas utility shall apportion available funds under subsection 3 in accordance with rules adopted by the commission.
(1) The commission shall ensure that a reasonable percentage of the available funds is directed to programs for low-income residential consumers, as defined by the commission by rule. The commission shall establish the percentage based on an assessment of the opportunity for cost-effective conservation measures for such consumers, including an assessment of the number of low-income residential consumers that may be eligible for such programs.
(2) The commission shall ensure that a reasonable percentage of the available funds is directed to programs for small business consumers, as defined by the commission by rule. The commission shall establish the percentage based on an assessment of the opportunity for cost-effective conservation measures for such consumers. In defining "small business" for the purposes of this subparagraph, the commission shall consider definitions of that term used for other programs in this State that assist small businesses.
(3) The commission shall ensure that, to the greatest extent practicable, the remaining available funds are apportioned in a manner that allows all other consumers to have a reasonable opportunity to participate in one or more conservation programs.
2. Cost recovery. The commission shall include in rates for a gas utility all costs incurred in compliance with this section and commission rules adopted under this section, as long as such costs have been prudently incurred.
3. Funding level. Each gas utility to which this section applies shall undertake energy efficiency programs designed to operate within a budget, upon full implementation, that is no less than 3% of the gas utility's delivery revenues as defined by the commission by rule.
4. Rules. The commission shall adopt rules necessary to implement this section. Rules adopted under this section are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
5. Report. The commission shall report by December 1st of each year to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over utilities and energy matters. The report must include:
A. A description of actions taken by gas utilities pursuant to this section, including descriptions of all conservation programs implemented during the prior 12 months and all conservation programs that the gas utilities plan to implement during the next 12 months;
B. A description of how the commission determines the cost-effectiveness of each conservation program and its assessment of the cost-effectiveness of programs implemented during the prior 12 months;
C. For each gas utility to which this section applies, total expenditures for its conservation programs during the prior 12 months and projected expenditures during the next 12 months; and
D. Any recommendations for changes to the laws relating to energy conservation by gas utilities.
Effective September 17, 2005.
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