SENATE BILL No. 368
DIGEST OF INTRODUCED BILL
Citations Affected: IC 8-1-35.
Synopsis: Universal service program. Requires gas utilities to: (1)
develop universal service programs to provide education and home
energy assistance to low income customers; and (2) submit plans for
the universal service programs to the Indiana utility regulatory
commission for review and approval.
Effective: Upon passage.
January 8, 2009, read first time and referred to Committee on Utilities & Technology.
First Regular Session 116th General Assembly (2009)
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SENATE BILL No. 368
A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning
utilities and transportation.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:
SOURCE: IC 8-1-35; (09)IN0368.1.1. -->
SECTION 1. IC 8-1-35 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS
CHAPTER TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE UPON
Chapter 35. Universal Service Programs
Sec. 1. The general assembly makes the following findings:
(1) Gas service is essential to the health, well-being, and public
safety of Indiana and its residents.
(2) Energy assistance programs help low income gas utility
customers address the seasonal affordability of residential
(3) Gas utility customers whose service is disconnected face
health risks and may use home energy alternatives that pose
public safety risks.
(4) Federal home energy assistance has not kept pace with
increases in home energy costs.
(5) Universal service programs create positive financial
benefits for gas utilities and their customers by:
(A) decreasing the incidence and amounts of customer
(B) reducing the expensive collection process, including the
disconnection of gas service due to nonpayment; and
(C) allowing gas utilities to focus on assisting customers
with arrearages rather than disconnecting service.
Sec. 2. As used in this chapter, "commission" refers to the
Indiana utility regulatory commission created by IC 8-1-1-2.
Sec. 3. As used in this chapter, "community action agency"
means a community action agency described in IC 12-14-23-2(2)
that administers an energy assistance program.
Sec. 4. As used in this chapter, "energy assistance program"
means programs administered by the state to supply home energy
through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant
under 42 U.S.C. 8261 et seq.
Sec. 5. As used in this chapter, "gas utility" has the meaning set
forth in IC 8-1-2-87.
Sec. 6. As used in this chapter, "low income customer" means
a gas utility customer whose household income (as defined in 47
CFR 54.400(f)) is less than one hundred fifty percent (150%) of the
federal income poverty level.
Sec. 7. As used in this chapter, "universal service program"
means a program established by a gas utility under section 8 of this
Sec. 8. (a) A gas utility shall establish a universal service
program to serve the gas utility's service area. The program shall:
(1) provide assistance to low income customers with their gas
bills, whether through reduced rates, direct financial
assistance, or other methods determined by the gas utility;
(2) maintain reasonable standards of safety, availability, and
reliability of gas service for all customers of the gas utility;
(3) provide a mechanism, subject to the approval of the
commission, for the gas utility to recover reasonable and
necessary costs associated with implementing the universal
(b) In establishing a universal service program under subsection
(a), a gas utility shall develop a plan to achieve the following goals:
(1) Educating low income customers about responsible bill
(2) Enhancing existing account management programs to
assist low income customers in making complete, timely, and
unprompted bill payments.
(3) Improving the gas utility's ability to identify and assist low
income customers who are at risk of having their gas service
disconnected due to nonpayment.
(4) Maximizing the interaction of private and public home
energy assistance programs.
(5) Improving collection efforts.
(c) The commission shall determine a staggered schedule for
submission of universal service program plans developed under
subsection (b). The schedule must require each gas utility to
(1) an initial universal service program plan not later than
January 1, 2010; and
(2) a revised universal service program plan not less
frequently than every three (3) years thereafter, on a date
determined by the commission.
(d) A universal service program plan submitted by a gas utility
under this section must include the following:
(1) A description of the gas utility's previous efforts to achieve
the goals described in subsection (b).
(2) Eligibility criteria for participation in the universal service
(3) Projected enrollment levels and needs assessments based
on existing customer data.
(4) An accounting mechanism by which the gas utility may
adjust rates and billings to ensure that customers are not
overbilled for expenses that are not related to the universal
(5) Planned uses of and coordination of services with:
(A) community action agencies; and
(B) existing energy assistance programs.
(6) Proposed rate schedules and caps for gas service provided
through the universal service program.
(7) Identification of differences between the gas utility's
current and previous universal service program plans,
including revisions based on analysis of the gas utility's
previous universal service programs.
Sec. 9. (a) The commission shall approve or deny a universal
service program plan submitted under section 8 of this chapter not
more than ninety (90) days after the date on which the plan is
(b) In approving or denying a universal service program plan,
the commission shall consider:
(1) the annual reports filed with the commission by the gas
utility that submitted the plan; and
(2) any other information the commission considers relevant.
(c) If the commission denies a universal service program plan,
the commission may order the gas utility to submit a revised
universal service program plan not more than forty-five (45) days
after the date of the order.
Sec. 10. Not later than November 1 of each year, a gas utility
shall report to the commission and the regulatory flexibility
committee established under IC 8-1-2.6-4 on the status of the gas
utility's universal service program. The report must include an
assessment of the gas utility's achievement of the goals set forth in
section 8(b) of this chapter.
SOURCE: ; (09)IN0368.1.2. -->
SECTION 2. An emergency is declared for this act.