R6-90 APPLICATION PROCESS
(a) Purpose. The purpose of these Rules is to implement G.S. 62-2(a)(9) and G.S. 62-159 by providing a process pursuant to which funding from the proceeds of the general obligation natural gas bonds approved by referendum in November 1998 can be made available to:
(i) existing North Carolina local distribution companies (LDCs) or
(ii) a person awarded a new franchise or a regional gas district for the construction of natural gas facilities in unserved areas that would otherwise not be economically feasible to construct (hereinafter collectively referred to as "eligible recipients" or "applicants"). For purposes of these Rules, a "project" is defined as all of the natural gas facilities, including but not limited to, transmission and distribution lines, metering facilities, and compressors, and all of the activities necessary to extend and provide natural gas service to an unserved area that is eligible under the statutes for funding from the natural gas bonds.
(b) Letters of intent. All applicants who intend to file an application for approval to use natural gas bond funds shall first file a letter of intent 30 days before the projected filing date of the application. The letter shall give notice of the intention to file an application and shall identify the counties involved in the project to be proposed. Upon the filing of such a letter of intent, the Commission will promptly issue an order establishing a filing deadline for competing letters of intent, i.e., letters of intent as to applications that include one or more of the same counties. Typically, this deadline will be 30 days from the date of the Commission's order, and the order will be sent to those on the Commission's natural gas service list, representatives of the counties involved, and all other known interested persons. Upon expiration of the deadline for competing letters of intent, if no competing letter of intent has been filed, the applicant shall file its application for approval to use natural gas bond funds forthwith. If a competing letter of intent is filed, the Commission will promptly issue an order establishing a filing deadline for all applications that include one or more of the same counties. Typically, this deadline will be 60 days from the date of the Commission's order, but the Commission may establish some other period as appropriate. Upon expiration of the deadline and upon the filing of a competing application, the Commission shall consolidate the competing applications as appropriate, set the applications for hearing, and establish a procedural schedule.
(c) Projects involving a county or counties for which an existing LDC has the exclusive franchise. For projects involving a county or counties for which an existing LDC has the exclusive franchise, applications for approval to use natural gas bond funds pursuant to G.S. 62-159 and this Rule may be filed only by the existing LDC or by a regional gas district. An application for approval to use bond funds shall contain the following information:
(1) A precise geographic description, a map or maps of the area(s) proposed to be served, a detailed description of the proposed physical facilities, including their projected operating parameters and characteristics, the arrangements that have been or are proposed to be made to obtain rights-of-way and plans for obtaining capacity to supply the projected demand;
(2) Details about any special permitting or licensing that may be required, such as from the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the Army Corp of Engineers, and a statement as to how much time the permitting or licensing is likely to take;
(3) A market study, including an analysis of potential customers and volumes, probable conversions from other fuels, and projected growth resulting from population growth and economic development;
(4) An engineering study that includes the proposed design of the system (including a pipe network flow analysis), routing (including a review of planned or proposed state highway improvements), and construction cost estimates;
(5) A net present value (NPV) analysis conducted in a generally accepted manner that provides support for the amount of natural gas bond funding requested in the eligible recipient's application;
(6) A demonstration of the applicant's technical, operational, and financial management capabilities that will ensure the successful and safe construction and operation of the project;
(7) A financing plan for the feasible part of the project that includes the amounts, sources, and costs for common equity, debt, and/or other types of financing;
(8) The estimated beginning and ending dates of the proposed construction, including the date service to one or more customers is proposed to begin, specific itemized construction budgets and a timetable for disbursements from the bond fund; and
(9) A schedule or schedules of proposed rates.
(d) Projects involving a county or counties for which no LDC has an exclusive franchise. For projects involving a county or counties for which no LDC has an exclusive franchise, applications for approval to use natural gas bond funds may be filed by any person, including an existing LDC, that is a public utility or would become a public utility by constructing, owning or operating the proposed natural gas facilities or by a regional gas district. For projects involving such counties, a person, including an existing LDC, that is a public utility or would become a public utility by constructing, owning or operating the proposed natural gas facilities also must file an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity pursuant to G.S. 62-110. All applications for approval to use natural gas bond funds must include the information required by subsection (c) of this Rule.
(e) Accuracy required. In all cases, applications for approval to use natural gas bond funds shall be as accurate as possible when filed, particularly as to the estimates used in the NPV analysis of the project. Amendments are discouraged. In cases of competing applications, the Commission shall first give preliminary approval to use natural gas bond funds, and the winning applicant shall then be required to refine the estimates and move for final approval of the amount of bond money to be awarded. If significant changes to the project or to the NPV analysis are made, the Commission may in its discretion re-open the preliminary approval and conduct such further proceedings as appropriate to reconsider the decision.
(f) Other applications. If not otherwise addressed in its application, an applicant that is a public utility or would become subject to regulation as a public utility if its application were granted, shall file for approval of its proposed financing for the feasible portion of an approved project to the extent required by G.S. 62-160 through G.S. 62-171 and Commission Rule R1-16. A regional gas district proposing to use revenue bonds to finance the feasible portion of a project for which bond funds have been approved shall file for a certificate of convenience and necessity in accordance with G.S. 159-95.
(NCUC Docket No. G-100, Sub 75, 03/08/99; 08/04/99.)