2013 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 58 - Public Utilities, Services and Carriers
CHAPTER 4 - OFFICE OF REGULATORY STAFF
SECTION 58-4-55. Production of books, records and other information; noncompliance; inspections, audits and examinations; costs.
(A) The regulatory staff, in accomplishing its responsibilities under Section 58-4-50, may require the production of books, records, and other information that, upon request of the regulatory staff, must be submitted under oath. If the books, records, or other information provided do not appear to disclose full and accurate information and, if such apparent deficiencies are not cured after reasonable notice, the regulatory staff may require the attendance and testimony under oath of the officers, accountants, or other agents of the parties having knowledge thereof at such place as the regulatory staff may designate and the expense of making the necessary examination or inspection for the procuring of the information must be paid by the party examined or inspected, to be collected by the regulatory staff by suit or action, if necessary. If, however, the examination and inspection and the reports thereof disclose that full and accurate information had previously been made, the expense of making the examination and inspection must be paid out of the funds of the regulatory staff.
(B) If the regulatory staff initiates an inspection, audit, or examination of a public utility, the public utility that is the subject of the inspection, audit, or examination may petition the commission to terminate or limit the scope of such inspection, audit, or examination. The commission must grant such petition if it finds that such inspection, audit, or examination is arbitrary, capricious, unnecessary, unduly burdensome, or unrelated to the public utility's regulated operations.
(1) If such an inspection, audit, or examination is not part of a contested case proceeding, the public utility may also raise objections or seek relief available under the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure to a party upon whom discovery is served or to a person upon whom a subpoena is served. The commission shall provide the regulatory staff reasonable notice to respond to any such objection or request. Absent the consent of the public utility raising such an objection or request and the Office of Regulatory Staff, the commission must rule on such an objection or request within sixty days of the date it was filed. During the pendency of the commission's ruling, the public utility making such an objection or request is not required to produce or provide access to any documents or information that is the subject of the objection or request.
(2) If such an inspection, audit, or examination is part of a contested case proceeding, the commission shall address objections to information sought by the regulatory staff in the same manner in which it addresses objections to discovery issued by the parties to the contested case proceeding.
(C) Any public utility that provides the regulatory staff with copies of or access to documents or information in the course of an inspection, audit, or examination that is not part of a contested case proceeding may designate any such documents or information as confidential or proprietary if it believes in good faith that such documents or information would be entitled to protection from public disclosure under the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure or any provision of South Carolina or federal law. The regulatory staff may petition the commission for an order that some or all of the documents so designated are not entitled to protection from public disclosure and it shall be incumbent on the utility to prove that such documents are entitled to protection from public disclosure under the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure or any provision of South Carolina or federal law. The commission shall rule on such petition after providing the regulatory staff and the utility an opportunity to be heard. Unless the commission's order on such a petition contains a finding to the contrary, all documents or information designated as confidential or proprietary pursuant to this subsection are exempt from public disclosure under Sections 30-4-10, et seq. and the regulatory staff shall not disclose such documents and information, or the contents thereof, to any member of the commission or to any other person or entity; provided, however, that, if the commission determines that it is necessary to view such documents or information in order to rule on such a petition, it shall order the regulatory staff to file the documents or information with the commission under seal, and such documents or information shall not be available for public inspection during the pendency of the petition.
(D) Nothing in this section restricts the regulatory staff's ability to serve discovery in a contested case proceeding that seeks the type of documents or information the regulatory staff has obtained in the course of any review, investigation, inspection, audit, or examination, nor does anything in this section restrict the ability of any public utility to object to such discovery or to seek relief regarding such discovery, including without limitation the entry of a protective order.
HISTORY: 2004 Act No. 175, Section 6, eff January 1, 2005.
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