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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
2/24/1978--Introduced. Lifeline and Electric Rate Reform Act - Title I: General Provisions - Declares it the purpose of this Act to reform inequities in the structure of electric utility rates. Title II: Definitions - Defines the terms used in this Act. Defines the scope of coverage under this Act. Stipulates that direct Federal regulation shall not apply where regulation is specifically reserved and effectively enforced by the States in accordance with applicable national minimum standards. Title III: Electric Energy Office - Creates an Electric Energy Office in the Federal Power Commission to establish and enforce National Minimum Standards for Ratemaking to be binding upon all electric utility regulatory agencies. Requires that all electric utilities and local distributors furnish monthly reports to the office disclosing information on the amount of electric energy supplied, the amount and rate of charges for each consumer class, and the amount and costs of fuel utilized by each utility. Imposes criminal and civil penalties for failure to make full disclosure of such information. Title IV: Rate Structures - Directs the Federal Power Commission, in the exercise of its regulatory functions, to accord highest priority to residential and small business users. Prohibits regulatory authorities from permitting the sale of electric energy to low priority users at rates less than those charged to high-priority consumers. Imposes criminal penalties for the furnishing of electric-energy at rates or charges which have not been specifically approved by the appropriate regulatory agency after public hearings. Directs the Federal Power Commission to encourage conservation of electric energy by requiring that rates be graduated progressively upward for consumption of electric energy in amounts above subsistence quantities. Title V: Lifeline Electric Rates - Requires that electric utility rate charges for subsistence quantities of electric energy to residential consumers not exceed the lowest rate charged to any other electric consumer. Requires the use of graduated rate structures for consumption of electric energy in amounts above subsistence quantities. Title VI: Electric Rates for Nonresidential Customers - Requires that electric utility rate changes for nonresidential customers be the lowest rate charged to any other electric consumer in the same class. Requires progressively higher rates for consumption in excess of the basic requirements of such nonresidential customers. Title VII: Effective Dates - Stipulates that the provisions of this Act shall become effective one year from the date of its passage, unless otherwise indicated.