§271G-17 Tariffs of water carriers. (a) Every water carrier shall file with the public utilities commission, and print, and keep open to public inspection, tariffs showing all the rates, fares, and charges for transportation, and all services in connection therewith, of passengers or property. The rates, fares, and charges shall be stated in terms of lawful money of the United States. The tariffs required by this section shall be published, filed, and posted in such form and manner, and shall contain such information as the commission by regulations shall prescribe; and the commission may reject any tariff filed with it which is not in consonance with this section and with the regulations. Any tariff so rejected by the commission shall be void and its use shall be unlawful.
(b) No change shall be made in any rate, fare, charge, or classification, or any rule, regulation, or practice affecting the rate, fare, charge, or classification, or the value of the service thereunder, specified in any effective tariff of a water carrier, except after forty-five days' notice of the proposed change filed and posted in accordance with subsection (a); provided that changes to a fuel surcharge approved by the commission may be made after thirty days' notice of the proposed change filed and posted in accordance with subsection (a). The notice shall plainly state the change proposed to be made and the time when it will take effect. The commission may in its discretion and for good cause shown allow the change upon notice less than that herein specified or modify the requirements of this section with respect to posting and filing of tariffs either in particular instances or by general order applicable to special or peculiar circumstances or conditions.
(c) No water carrier shall engage in the transportation of passengers or property unless the rates, fares, and charges upon which the same are transported by the carrier have been filed and published in accordance with this chapter.
(d) Whenever there is filed with the commission any schedule stating a new rate, fare, or charge, for the transportation of passengers or property by a water carrier or any rule, regulation, or practice affecting such rate, fare, or charge, or the value of the service thereunder, the carrier may on its own initiative, or shall by order of the commission served prior to the effective date of the schedule, concurrently file a pro forma statement of account which shall be prepared under the same form and in the same manner as prescribed by the commission's uniform system of accounts.
The commission may upon complaint of any interested person or upon its own initiative at once and, if it so orders, without answer or other formal pleading by the interested carrier or carriers, but upon reasonable notice, enter upon a hearing concerning the lawfulness of the rate, fare, or charge, or the rule, regulation, or practice, and pending the hearing and the decision thereon the commission, by delivering to the carrier or carriers affected thereby a statement in writing of its reasons therefor, may suspend the operation of the schedule and defer the use of the rate, fare, or charge, or the rule, regulation, or practice. From the date of ordering a hearing to investigate the lawfulness of the rate, fare, or charge, the commission shall have up to six months to complete its investigation. If the commission fails to issue a final order within the six-month period then the changes proposed by the carrier shall go into effect. At any hearing involving a change in a rate, fare, charge, or classification, or in a rule, regulation, or practice, the burden of proof shall be upon the carrier to show that the proposed changed rate, fare, charge, classification, rule, regulation, or practice, is just and reasonable.
(e) When a rate increase application is filed, the commission may in its discretion and after public notice, and upon showing by a water carrier of probable entitlement and financial need, authorize temporary increases in rates, fares, and charges; provided that the commission shall by order require the carrier to keep accurate account in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, specifying by whom and in whose behalf such amounts are paid, and upon completion of the hearing and decision by further order require the interested carrier to refund, with interest, to the persons in whose behalf such amounts were paid, such portion of such increased rates or charges by its decision shall be found not justified. The interest to be paid shall be the rate of return authorized in the last general rate case proceedings. [L 1974, c 94, pt of §1; am L 1980, c 202, §1]