In Alabama, the Alabama Public Service Commission is a regulatory agency whose responsibilities include oversight of the telecommunications industry in the state. It is a body primarily charged with setting the rates that private utility companies are allowed to charge customers and the profits that the companies are allowed to earn. The Energy Division of the Alabama Public Service Commission oversees the regulation of investor-owned electric, natural gas and water utilities under the Commission’s regulatory authority. This responsibility includes monitoring rates and quality of service for companies as well as enforcing safety rules for all natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline systems in Alabama.
The energy division is organized into five sections. They are:
1. Electricity- this section monitors the revenues, expenses, investment, equity, debt and rate making mechanism for Alabama Power Co.
2. Special Projects- this section addresses issues that do not fall squarely under the purview of other staff sections, primarily pertaining to multiple or traditionally non jurisdictional energy commodities. It provides technical needed assistance.
3. Natural Gas- this section is responsible for the regulation of all investor-owned natural gas distribution, transportation, storage and intrastate natural gas pipelines in Alabama.
4. Gas Pipeline Safety- this section inspects all gas and hazardous liquid pipeline systems operating in Alabama; including offshore in state waters, for safety purposes under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s gas pipeline safety rules.
5. Water- this section oversees the regulation of investor-owned and out-of-state water systems with authority to operate in Alabama.
In Alabama, there is a separate energy division, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) that handles energy emergency situations. ADECA is authorized by the state of Alabama Emergency Operations Plan as the primary agency responsible for energy emergency response. The Department of Economic and Community Affairs was established to consolidate the office of State Planning and Federal Programs, the Office of Employment and Training, the Alabama Law Enforcement Planning Agency, the Alabama Department of Energy, and the Office of Highway and Traffic Safety for the purpose of coordinated and comprehensive planning of programs administered under these offices. The mission of the Energy Division is to increase energy-efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and promote market acceptance and deployment of energy-efficiency and renewable-energy technologies.
The State Oil and Gas Board is a regulatory agency of the State of Alabama. The agency is entrusted with the statutory charge of preventing waste and promoting the conservation of energy. It works under the direction of the State Geologist and Oil and Gas Supervisor. It is responsible for the regulation of oil and gas operations. The Board has broad authority in Alabama’s oil and gas conservation statutes to promulgate and enforce rules and regulations to ensure the conservation and proper development of Alabama’s petroleum resources. A major duty of the Board is to prevent pollution of fresh water supplies by oil, gas, salt water, or other contaminants resulting from oil and gas operations.
In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Energy (ADE) was created pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-2, for the purpose of the development, management and efficient use of energy resources, and the conservation of energy. The legislature aims to protect the economic, social and environmental values of the citizens of the state.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-3, the programs and activities of the department is administered by a director with the assistance of such other officers, agents and employees as are necessary to carry out the functions of the agency.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-4, the programs and activities of the department are:
- to develop and promulgate a state energy policy;
- to report regularly to the Governor and annually to the Legislature on the programs and activities of the department;
- to periodically assess state energy requirements, and to coordinate with the state geologists, the State Oil and Gas Board, and other parties and with appropriate governmental agencies in their determination of available energy supplies and their capacities and their development;
- to formulate and update annually a comprehensive state energy management program;
- to formulate and update annually a contingency plan to provide for adequate energy supplies during any energy shortages;
- to monitor existing programs relating to curtailment, allocation, conservation, planning, regulation, and management of all forms of energy, and energy sources; and to administer all other programs that are not otherwise provided by law;
- to serve as the state’s clearinghouse for energy data;
- to ensure that all information of a proprietary nature shall remain confidential;
- to develop, conduct, and disseminate educational and training programs;
- to review and study energy usage by state government agencies;
- to assist and encourage the various state agencies and universities when applying for energy-related contracts with federal or regional agencies or other groups;
- to review with appropriate energy related agencies regulatory or revenue-producing practices for their impact on energy production and consumption, and to recommend appropriate changes or modifications which may improve the state’s energy position without harming its economic status;
- to constitute the responsible agency for administering and coordinating federal energy programs delegated to the state subsequent to the enactment of this chapter;
- to encourage, and coordinate research, development and demonstration activities in the energy areas;
- to apply for and receive and administer federal and private grant funds which contribute to the programs and activities; and
- to enter into interstate agreements and contracts to accomplish jointly with other states and the federal government energy research or planning which contribute to the purposes of the department.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-4, ADE shall conduct and administer public awareness and education programs which shall inform the public and state and local government.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-6, ADE can, after appropriate notice and public hearing, upon request, promulgate reasonable rules consistent with the laws Alabama state.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-7, ADE can enter into a contractual agreement with state agencies or departments, educational institutions and such other organizations and individuals necessary to fulfill its responsibilities.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-8, an Energy Advisory Council is created representing members from state Senate, state House of Representatives, state institutions of higher learning, and representatives of the citizens of the state.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-10, the Legislature shall appropriate moneys from the General Fund for operation of the department.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 41-6A-11, ADE departmental employee or independent contractor shall not divulge or make known in any manner any proprietary information on ADE except in accordance with the order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as provided by law.