Colorado Legislation - Unclaimed Utility Deposits



40-8.5-101. Legislative declaration.

In enacting this article, the general assembly finds and declares that there is a need to make distributions of moneys to provide aid and assistance to the indigent, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, who do not otherwise have the financial resources to meet their heating and other energy needs. The general assembly further finds and declares that the low-income energy assistance program of the department of human services is the most appropriate entity to determine those most in need of such aid and assistance. Therefore, this article shall authorize the commission on low-income energy assistance to establish a fund from which to collect and distribute moneys to accomplish the goals set forth in this section. The moneys for such fund shall be based in part on unclaimed utility deposits.

40-8.5-102. Applicability. This article shall apply to any electric or gas utility, as defined by section 40-8.5-103 except that this article shall apply only to those cooperative electric associations, as defined by section 40-9.5-102, which notify the commission that they elect to come under this article.

40-8.5-103. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Commission" means the legislative commission on low income energy assistance, established in section 40/8-5/103-5.

(2) "Deposit" means moneys deposited by a subscriber with a utility to secure payment for services or any other amount which is paid in advance for electric or gas utility services to be furnished.

(3) "Electric utility" means every electrical corporation operating for the purpose of supplying electricity to the public for domestic, mechanical, or public uses and includes every public utility supplying electricity; except that this definition includes only those cooperative electric associations which notify the commission that they elect to come under this article.

(4) "Gas utility" means every gas corporation operating for the purpose of supplying gas to the public for domestic, mechanical, or public uses and includes every public utility supplying gas.

(5) (a) "Unclaimed moneys" means:

(I) Deposits, including any interest thereon, less any lawful deductions or amounts owed to a utility, that the utility has been directed to return to the subscriber by an administrative or judicial order or that is due the subscriber through the utility's security or construction deposit policy and that remains unclaimed by the subscriber for more than two years;

(II) Moneys which shall be deemed unclaimed and presumed abandoned when left with the utility for more than two years after termination of the services for which the deposit or advance was made or for more than two years after the deposit becomes payable and the utility has made reasonable efforts to locate the owner of the unclaimed moneys or distribution is attempted pursuant to a final order of an administrative agency or judicial body having jurisdiction to establish the terms and conditions of such deposit or advance.

(b) This term shall not include credits to existing subscribers through cost-adjustment mechanisms, and this term shall not include unclaimed patronage capital held by cooperative electric associations.

40-8.5-103.5. Commission created.

(1) There is hereby created the legislative commission on low-income energy assistance. The commission shall be composed of eleven members to be appointed by the governor, each to serve a term of two years; except that the governor shall select seven of the initially appointed members to serve for one-year terms. Of the eleven members, five members shall be from private sector energy-related enterprises, one member shall be the director of the low-income energy assistance program in the state department of human services, one member shall be from the Colorado office of energy conservation, two members shall be consumers who are low-income energy assistance recipients, and two members shall be from the general public. Any interim appointment necessary to fill a vacancy which has occurred by any reason other than expiration of term shall be for the remainder of the term of the individual member whose office has become vacant.

(2) The governor may remove any commission member for cause, which shall include but need not be limited to misconduct, incompetence, or neglect of duty.

(3) Any commission member shall be immune from liability in any civil action brought against such member for acts occurring while acting in the capacity of a commission member if such member was acting in good faith, made reasonable efforts to obtain the facts of the matter as to which action was taken, and acted in the reasonable belief that the action taken was warranted by the facts.

40-8.5-104. Commencement of program - establishment of system for distribution of moneys to eligible recipients.

The commission shall establish a fund through a nonprofit corporation established for the purpose of collecting and distributing moneys to eligible recipients, who shall be designated by the administrator of the low-income energy assistance program in the department of human services, for use in the payment of electric and gas utility bills for services received.

40-8.5-105. Eligibility.

The department of human services shall promulgate rules and regulations establishing the criteria for eligibility for recipients of assistance pursuant to this article, which criteria shall be based in part on household size and income and the energy costs of the household residence for the preceding year.

40-8.5-106. Unclaimed deposits.

Unclaimed deposits shall be paid by the electric and gas utilities into the fund designated by the commission pursuant to section 40/8-5/104.

40-8.5-107. Disbursement of moneys.

The nonprofit corporation designated by the commission pursuant to section 40/8-5/104 shall disburse moneys to the state department of human services to make energy assistance payments on behalf of or to persons determined by the department to be eligible for such assistance in accordance with section 40-8-5/105.