The commission may conduct a public hearing on any application. (1) If, before the 91st day after the effective date of the rate change, the commission receives a complaint from any affected municipality, or from the lesser of 1,000 or 10% of the ratepayers of the utility over whose rates the commission has original jurisdiction, or on its own motion, the commission shall set the matter for hearing. If after hearing, the commission finds the rates currently being charged or those proposed to be charged are unreasonable or in violation of law, the commission shall determine the rates to be charged by the utility and shall fix the rates by order. (2) If a hearing is scheduled, the commission may require the utility to provide notice of the time and place of the hearing to its customers through a billing insert or separate mailing. (3) If the commission does not receive sufficient customer complaints or if the executive director does not request a hearing within 120 days after the effective date, the utility's proposed tariff will be reviewed for compliance with the Texas Water Code and the provisions of this chapter. If the proposed tariff complies with the Texas Water Code and the provisions of this chapter, it shall be stamped approved by the executive director or his designated representative and a copy returned to the utility. The executive director may require the utility to notify its customers that sufficient complaints were not received to schedule a hearing and the proposed rates were approved without hearing. (4) The executive director or commission may request additional information from any utility in the course of evaluating the rate/tariff change request, and the utility shall provide that information within 20 days of receipt of the request, unless a different time is agreed to. If the utility fails to provide within a reasonable time after the application is filed the necessary documentation or other evidence that supports the costs and expenses that are shown in the application, the commission may disallow the unsupported costs or expenses. (5) If the commission sets a rate different from that proposed by the utility in its notice of intent, the utility shall include in its first billing at the new rate a notice to the customers of the rate set by the commission including the following statement: "The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, after public hearing, has established the following rates for utility service:". (6) If the commission conducts a hearing, it may establish rates different from those currently being charged or proposed to be charged by the utility, but the total annual revenue increase resulting from the commission's rates may not exceed the greater of the annual revenue increase provided in the customer notice or revenue increase that would have been produced by the proposed rates except for the inclusion of reasonable rate case expenses. The commission may reclassify a portion of a utility's proposed rates as a capital improvement surcharge if the revenues are to be used for capital improvements or are to service debt on capital items. (7) A utility may recover rate case expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of a rate change application only if the expenses are reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest. (8) A utility may not recover any rate case expenses if the increase in revenue generated by the just and reasonable rate determined by the commission after a contested case hearing is less than 51% of the increase in revenue that would have been generated by a utility's proposed rate. (9) A utility may not recover any rate case expenses incurred after the date of a written settlement offer by all ratepayer parties if the revenue generated by the just and reasonable rate determined by the commission after a contested case hearing is less than or equal to the revenue that would have been generated by the rate contained in the written settlement offer.
Source Note: The provisions of this §291.28 adopted to be effective October 9, 1990, 15 TexReg 4019; amended to be effective September 20, 1996, 21 TexReg 8728; amended to be effective August 29, 2002, 27 TexReg 7924; amended to be effective May 5, 2005, 30 TexReg 2528; amended to be effective September 28, 2006, 31 TexReg 8106