Public Service Law Section 80
General powers of commission in respect to steam heating
1.Have general supervision of all steam corporations having authority under any general or special law or under any charter or franchise to lay down, regulate or maintain pipes, conduits, ducts or other fixtures in, over or under the streets, highways and public places of any municipality, for the purpose of furnishing or transmitting steam for heat or power, and all plants leased or operated by any such corporation.
2.Investigate and ascertain, from time to time, the methods employed by such persons and corporations in manufacturing, distributing and supplying steam for heat or power and have power to order such reasonable improvements as will best promote the public interest, preserve the public health and protecting those using such steam and those employed in the manufacture and distribution thereof, and have power to order reasonable improvements and extensions of the pipes, lines, conduits, ducts and other reasonable devices, apparatus and property of such corporation.
3.Have power, in its discretion, to prescribe uniform methods of keeping account, records and books, to be observed by such corporation in the manufacture, sale and distribution of steam. It may also in its discretion prescribe, by order, forms of accounts, records and memoranda to be kept by such persons and corporations. Notice of alterations by the commission in the required method or form of keeping a system of accounts shall be given to such persons or corporations by the commission at least six months before the same shall take effect. Any other and additional forms of accounts, records and memoranda kept by such corporation shall be subject to examination by the commission.
4.Examine all persons and corporations under its supervision and keep informed as to the methods, practices, regulations and property employed by them in the transaction of their business. The commission shall have power of its own motion to examine and investigate the plants and methods employed in manufacturing, delivering and supplying steam and shall have access through its members or persons employed and authorized by it to make such examinations and investigations to all parts of the manufacturing plants owned, used or operated for the manufacture, transmission, distribution, furnishing or sale of steam for heat or power by any such person or corporation. Whenever the commission shall be of the opinion, after hearing had upon its own motion or upon complaint, that the rates or charges or the acts or regulations of any such person or corporation, are unjust, unreasonable, unjustly discriminatory or unduly preferential or in any wise in violation of any provision of law, the commission shall determine and prescribe in the manner provided by and subject to the provisions of § 85 (Notice and hearing)section eighty-five of this chapter the just and reasonable rates and charges thereafter to be enforced for the service to be furnished, and the just and reasonable acts and regulations to be done and observed; and whenever the commission shall be of opinion, after hearing had upon its own motion or upon complaint, that the property, equipment or appliances of any such person or corporation are unsafe, inefficient or inadequate, the commission shall determine and prescribe the safe, efficient and adequate property, equipment and appliances thereafter to be used, maintained and operated for the security and accommodation of the public and in compliance with the provisions of law and of their franchises and charters.
5.Require every person and corporation under its supervision and it shall be the duty of every such person and corporation to file with the commission an annual report, verified by the oath of the president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, general manager or receiver, if any, thereof, or by the person required to file the same. The verification shall be made by said officials holding office at the time of the filing of said report, and if not made upon the knowledge of the person verifying the same shall set forth the sources of his information and the grounds of his belief as to any matters not stated to be verified upon his knowledge. The report shall show in detail:
(a)The amount of its authorized capital stock and the amount thereof issued and outstanding;
(b)the amount of its authorized bonded indebtedness and the amount of its bonds and other forms of evidence of indebtedness issued and outstanding;
(c)its receipts and expenditures during the preceding year;
(d)the amount paid as dividends upon its stock and as interest upon its bonds;
(e)the name of its officers and the aggregate amount paid as salaries to them and the amount paid as wages to its employees;
(f)the location of its plant or plants and system, with a full description of its property and franchises, stating in detail how each franchise stated to be owned was acquired;
(g)such other facts pertaining to the operation and maintenance of the plant and system, and the affairs of such person or corporation as may be required by the commission. Such report shall be in the form, cover the period and be filed at the time prescribed by the commission. The commission may from time to time make changes and additions in such forms. When any such report is defective or believed to be erroneous, the commission shall notify the person or corporation making such report to amend the same within a time prescribed by the commission. Any such person or corporation which shall neglect to make any such report or which shall fail to correct any such report within the time prescribed by the commission shall be liable to a penalty of one hundred dollars and an additional penalty of one hundred dollars for each day after the prescribed time for which it shall neglect to file and correct the same, to be sued for in the name of the people of the state of New York. The amount recovered in any such action shall be paid into the state treasury and be credited to the general fund. The commission may extend the time prescribed for cause shown.
6.Have power, either through its members or inspectors or employees duly authorized by it, to enter in or upon and to inspect the property, buildings, plants, power houses, ducts, conduits and offices of any such corporation or person.
7.Have power to examine all accounts, books, contracts, records, documents and papers of any such person or corporation, and have power, after a hearing, to prescribe by order all accounts in which particular outlays and receipts shall be entered, charged or credited. At any such hearing the burden of proof shall be on the person, corporation or municipality to establish the correctness of the accounts in which such outlays and receipts have been entered, and the commission may suspend a charge or credit pending submission of proof by such person, corporation or municipality.
8.Have power to compel, by subpoena duces tecum, the production of any accounts, books, contracts, records, documents, memoranda and papers. In lieu of requiring production of originals by subpoena duces tecum the commission or any commissioner may require sworn copies of any such books, records, contracts, documents and papers, or parts thereof, to be filed with it. The commission may require of all such corporations, persons or municipalities, specific answers to questions upon which the commission may need information, and may also require such corporations, persons or municipalities to file periodic reports in the form, covering the period and filed at the time prescribed by the commission. If such corporation, person or municipality shall fail to make specific answer to any question or shall fail to make a periodic report when required by the commission as herein provided within the time and in the form prescribed by the commission for the making and filing of any such report or answer, such corporation, person or the officer of the municipality shall forfeit to the state the sum of one hundred dollars for each and every day it shall continue to be in default with respect to such report or answer. Such forfeiture shall be recovered in an action brought by the commission in the name of the people of the state of New York. The amount recovered in any such action shall be paid into the state treasury and be credited to the general fund.
9.Have power in all parts of the state, either as a commission or through its members or through an officer or employee specially authorized to conduct an investigation or hearing, to subpoena witnesses, take testimony and administer oaths to witnesses in any proceeding or examination instituted before it, or conducted by it in reference to any matter within its jurisdiction under this article.
10.(a) Have power to require every steam corporation, person or municipality, hereinafter in this subdivision called a utility, to file with the commission and to print and keep open to public inspection schedules showing all rates and charges made, established or enforced or to be charged or enforced, all forms of contract or agreement and all rules and regulations relating to rates, charges or service used or to be used, and all general privileges and facilities granted or allowed by such utility; but this subdivision shall not apply to state, municipal or federal contracts.
(b)No change shall be made in any rate or charge, or in any form of contract or agreement or any rule or regulation relating to any rate, charge or service, or in any general privilege or facility, which shall have been filed or published by a utility in compliance with an order of the commission, except after thirty days’ notice to the commission and to each county, city, town and village served by such utility, which had filed with such utility, within the prior twelve months, a request for such notice and which shall be affected by such change and the publication for thirty days as required by order of the commission, which shall plainly state the changes proposed to be made and when the change will go into effect. The commission for good cause shown may, except in the case of major changes, allow changes to take effect prior to the end of such thirty-day period and without publication of notice to the public under such conditions as it may prescribe. The commission may delegate to the secretary of the commission its authority to approve a change to a schedule postponing the effective date of such schedule previously filed with the commission and to allow for good cause shown the postponement to take effect prior to the end of such thirty-day period and without publication of notice to the public.
(c)For the purpose of this subdivision, “major changes” shall mean an increase in the rates and charges which would increase the aggregate revenues of the applicant more than the greater of three hundred thousand dollars or two and one-half percent, but shall not include changes in rates, charges or rentals allowed to go into effect by the commission or made by the utility pursuant to an order of the commission after hearings held upon notice to the public.
(d)No utility shall charge, demand, collect or receive a greater or less or different compensation for any service rendered or to be rendered than the rates and charges specified in its schedule filed and in effect; nor shall any utility refund or remit in any manner or by any device any portion of the rates or charges so specified, nor extend to any person any form of contract or agreement, or any rule or regulation, or any privilege or facility, except such as are regularly and uniformly extended to all persons under like circumstances.
(e)The commission shall have power to prescribe the form of every such schedule, and from time to time prescribe by order such changes in the form thereof as may be deemed wise. The commission shall also have power to establish such rules and regulations to carry into effect this subdivision as it may deem necessary, and to modify or amend such rules or regulations from time to time.
(f)Whenever there shall be filed with the commission by any utility any schedule stating a new rate or charge, or any change in any form of contract or agreement or any rule or regulation relating to any rate, charge or service, or in any general privilege or facility, the commission may, at any time within sixty days from the date when such schedule would or has become effective, either upon complaint or upon its own initiative, and, if it so orders, without answer or other formal pleading by the utility, but upon reasonable notice, hold a hearing concerning the propriety of a change proposed by the filing. If such change is a major change, the commission shall hold such a hearing. Pending such hearing and decision thereon the commission, upon filing with such schedule and delivering to the utility, a statement in writing of its reasons therefor, may suspend the operation of such schedule, but not for a longer period than one hundred and twenty days beyond the time when it would otherwise go into effect. After full hearing, whether completed before or after the schedule goes into effect, the commission may make such order in reference thereto as would be proper in a proceeding begun after the rate, charge, form of contract or agreement, rule, regulation, service, general privilege or facility had become effective. If such hearing cannot be concluded within the period of suspension as above stated, the commission may extend the suspension for a further period not exceeding six months.
(g)The commission may, as authorized by § 85 (Notice and hearing)section eighty-five of this article, establish temporary rates or charges for any period of suspension under this section. At any hearing involving a rate or charge, the burden of proof to show that the change in rate or charge, or proposed change in rate or charge if proposed by the utility, or that the existing rate or charge, if it is proposed to reduce the rate or charge, is just and reasonable shall be upon the utility; and the commission may give to the hearing and decision of such questions preference over all other questions pending before it. The schedule, rates, charges, form of contract or agreement, rule, regulation, service, general privilege or facility in force when the new schedule, rate, charge, form of contract, rule, regulation, service, general privilege or facility was filed shall continue in force during the period of the suspension unless the commission shall establish a temporary rate or charge as authorized by § 85 (Notice and hearing)section eighty-five of this article.
11.In case any steam corporation is engaged in carrying on any business other than owning, operating or managing a steam plant, which other business is not otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the commission, and is so conducted that its operations are to be substantially kept separate and apart from the owning, operating, managing or controlling of such steam plant, said corporation in respect of such other business shall not be subject to any of the provisions of this chapter and shall not be required to procure the assent or authorization of the commission to any act in such other business or to make any report in respect thereof. But this subdivision shall not restrict or limit the powers of the commission in respect to the owning, operating, managing or controlling by such corporation of such steam plant, and said powers shall include also the right to inquire as to, and prescribe the apportionment of, capitalization, earnings, debts and expenses fairly and justly to be awarded to or borne by the ownership, operation, management or control of such steam plant as distinguished from such other business. In any such case if the owning, operating, managing or controlling of such steam plant by any such corporation is wholly subsidiary and incidental to the other business carried on by it and is inconsiderable in amount and not general in its character, the commission may by general rules exempt such corporation from making full reports and from the keeping of accounts as to such subsidiary and incidental business.
12.Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, whenever a city having a population of one million or more provides for a deduction from gross receipts of a steam corporation, pursuant to a local law authorized by the provisions of subdivision (k) of Tax Law § 1201 (Taxes administered by cities of one million or more)section twelve hundred one of the tax law, the rate or charge imposed by any such corporation within such city upon non-residential users of steam eligible to receive a rebate in accordance with a local law or laws adopted pursuant to article two-G of the general city law shall be set by the commission so as to reflect fully the decrease in tax liability attributable to such deduction.
Section 80 — General powers of commission in respect to steam heating,
https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PBS/80 (updated Sep. 22, 2014; accessed Nov. 25, 2023).