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16 U.S. Code § 824d - Rates and charges; schedules; suspension of new rates; automatic adjustment clauses

(a) Just and reasonable rates

All rates and charges made, demanded, or received by any public utility for or in connection with the transmission or sale of electric energy subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, and all rules and regulations affecting or pertaining to such rates or charges shall be just and reasonable, and any such rate or charge that is not just and reasonable is hereby declared to be unlawful.

(b) Preference or advantage unlawful

No public utility shall, with respect to any transmission or sale subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, (1) make or grant any undue preference or advantage to any person or subject any person to any undue prejudice or disadvantage, or (2) maintain any unreasonable difference in rates, charges, service, facilities, or in any other respect, either as between localities or as between classes of service.

(c) Schedules

Under such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe, every public utility shall file with the Commission, within such time and in such form as the Commission may designate, and shall keep open in convenient form and place for public inspection schedules showing all rates and charges for any transmission or sale subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, and the classifications, practices, and regulations affecting such rates and charges, together with all contracts which in any manner affect or relate to such rates, charges, classifications, and services.

(d) Notice required for rate changes

Unless the Commission otherwise orders, no change shall be made by any public utility in any such rate, charge, classification, or service, or in any rule, regulation, or contract relating thereto, except after sixty days’ notice to the Commission and to the public. Such notice shall be given by filing with the Commission and keeping open for public inspection new schedules stating plainly the change or changes to be made in the schedule or schedules then in force and the time when the change or changes will go into effect. The Commission, for good cause shown, may allow changes to take effect without requiring the sixty days’ notice herein provided for by an order specifying the changes so to be made and the time when they shall take effect and the manner in which they shall be filed and published.

(e) Suspension of new rates; hearings; five-month period

Whenever any such new schedule is filed the Commission shall have authority, either upon complaint or upon its own initiative without complaint, at once, and, if it so orders, without answer or formal pleading by the public utility, but upon reasonable notice, to enter upon a hearing concerning the lawfulness of such rate, charge, classification, or service; and, pending such hearing and the decision thereon, the Commission, upon filing with such schedules and delivering to the public utility affected thereby a statement in writing of its reasons for such suspension, may suspend the operation of such schedule and defer the use of such rate, charge, classification, or service, but not for a longer period than five months beyond the time when it would otherwise go into effect; and after full hearings, either completed before or after the rate, charge, classification, or service goes into effect, the Commission may make such orders with reference thereto as would be proper in a proceeding initiated after it had become effective. If the proceeding has not been concluded and an order made at the expiration of such five months, the proposed change of rate, charge, classification, or service shall go into effect at the end of such period, but in case of a proposed increased rate or charge, the Commission may by order require the interested public utility or public utilities to keep accurate account in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, specifying by whom and in whose behalf such amounts are paid, and upon completion of the hearing and decision may by further order require such public utility or public utilities to refund, with interest, to the persons in whose behalf such amounts were paid, such portion of such increased rates or charges as by its decision shall be found not justified. At any hearing involving a rate or charge sought to be increased, the burden of proof to show that the increased rate or charge is just and reasonable shall be upon the public utility, and the Commission shall give to the hearing and decision of such questions preference over other questions pending before it and decide the same as speedily as possible.

(f) Review of automatic adjustment clauses and public utility practices; action by Commission; “automatic adjustment clause” defined
(1) Not later than 2 years after November 9, 1978, and not less often than every 4 years thereafter, the Commission shall make a thorough review of automatic adjustment clauses in public utility rate schedules to examine—
whether or not each such clause effectively provides incentives for efficient use of resources (including economical purchase and use of fuel and electric energy), and
(B) whether any such clause reflects any costs other than costs which are—
subject to periodic fluctuations and
not susceptible to precise determinations in rate cases prior to the time such costs are incurred.
Such review may take place in individual rate proceedings or in generic or other separate proceedings applicable to one or more utilities.
Not less frequently than every 2 years, in rate proceedings or in generic or other separate proceedings, the Commission shall review, with respect to each public utility, practices under any automatic adjustment clauses of such utility to insure efficient use of resources (including economical purchase and use of fuel and electric energy) under such clauses.
(3) The Commission may, on its own motion or upon complaint, after an opportunity for an evidentiary hearing, order a public utility to—
modify the terms and provisions of any automatic adjustment clause, or
cease any practice in connection with the clause,
if such clause or practice does not result in the economical purchase and use of fuel, electric energy, or other items, the cost of which is included in any rate schedule under an automatic adjustment clause.
As used in this subsection, the term “automatic adjustment clause” means a provision of a rate schedule which provides for increases or decreases (or both), without prior hearing, in rates reflecting increases or decreases (or both) in costs incurred by an electric utility. Such term does not include any rate which takes effect subject to refund and subject to a later determination of the appropriate amount of such rate.
(g) Inaction of Commissioners
(1) In generalWith respect to a change described in subsection (d), if the Commission permits the 60-day period established therein to expire without issuing an order accepting or denying the change because the Commissioners are divided two against two as to the lawfulness of the change, as a result of vacancy, incapacity, or recusal on the Commission, or if the Commission lacks a quorum—
the failure to issue an order accepting or denying the change by the Commission shall be considered to be an order issued by the Commission accepting the change for purposes of section 825l(a) of this title; and
each Commissioner shall add to the record of the Commission a written statement explaining the views of the Commissioner with respect to the change.
(2) Appeal

If, pursuant to this subsection, a person seeks a rehearing under section 825l(a) of this title, and the Commission fails to act on the merits of the rehearing request by the date that is 30 days after the date of the rehearing request because the Commissioners are divided two against two, as a result of vacancy, incapacity, or recusal on the Commission, or if the Commission lacks a quorum, such person may appeal under section 825l(b) of this title.

(June 10, 1920, ch. 285, pt. II, § 205, as added Aug. 26, 1935, ch. 687, title II, § 213, 49 Stat. 851; amended Pub. L. 95–617, title II, §§ 207(a), 208, Nov. 9, 1978, 92 Stat. 3142; Pub. L. 115–270, title III, § 3006, Oct. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 3868.)
Editorial Notes

2018—Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 115–270 added subsec. (g).

1978—Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 95–617, § 207(a), substituted “sixty” for “thirty” in two places.

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 95–617, § 208, added subsec. (f).

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Study of Electric Rate Increases Under Federal Power Act

Section 207(b) of Pub. L. 95–617 directed chairman of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in consultation with Secretary, to conduct a study of legal requirements and administrative procedures involved in consideration and resolution of proposed wholesale electric rate increases under Federal Power Act, section 791a et seq. of this title, for purposes of providing for expeditious handling of hearings consistent with due process, preventing imposition of successive rate increases before they have been determined by Commission to be just and reasonable and otherwise lawful, and improving procedures designed to prohibit anticompetitive or unreasonable differences in wholesale and retail rates, or both, and that chairman report to Congress within nine months from Nov. 9, 1978, on results of study, on administrative actions taken as a result of this study, and on any recommendations for changes in existing law that will aid purposes of this section.