Regulatory Update – Legislation to affect apartment utilities in California, Texas and Chicago
Some of the latest legislation to affect apartment utilities has come from California, Texas and Chicago.
California: California Senate Bill 7 was introduced in January of 2015. SB 7 represents a continuation of the 2014 legislative attempt to mandate installation of submeters in newly constructed buildings and to regulate resident billing via Senate Bills 750 and 411. Neither SB 750 nor 411 advanced from the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee in 2014 due to drafting issues that could not be rectified during the legislative session. The sponsor of SB 7, tenants’ rights lobbyists, apartment association lobbyists, and utility billing companies are working on overcoming the drafting obstacles to ensure that SB 7 becomes law with terms that are agreeable to all parties.
Texas: Regulatory oversight of water and sewer submetered and allocated billing transferred from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on August 1, 2014. The PUC adopted the TCEQ Regulations in total and will not make substantive changes until after August 1, 2015. The PUC will perform rulemaking procedures to modify the existing regulations. These proceedings present an opportunity to modify regulations that have been in effect since 2003. Properties must now register with the PUC instead of the TCEQ. The PUC is reaching out to properties not registered with TCEQ to obtain information to settle resident disputes. Owners should comply with the PUC’s requests and can engage NWP’s Regulatory Department with questions, concerns, or requests for assistance. Please note that the PUC is not stating that there is an open or pending investigation when PUC requests contact information.
Illinois: Residential buildings 250,000 sq. ft. or bigger are subject to the City of Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance beginning June 1. The ordinance is intended to drive awareness and transparency to help unlock energy cost savings opportunities. Affected buildings will receive a notification letter from the City by the end of April with a unique building I.D. number and instructions on how to comply by the August 1 deadline. CAA held two panel discussions on the new measure and additional training opportunities are available from the City. For more visit www.cityofchicago.org/energybenchmarking
In other states such as Massachusetts, both Boston and Cambridge have energy disclosure regulations that took effect in May, 2015. Many other cities passed similar regulation this year that impacts multifamily including Berkeley, Calif., Philadelphia, and Atlanta.
See a summary of benchmarking/energy disclosure requirements here: www.nwpsc.com/locallaw