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(2) EXCEPTION FOR HOLDING COMPANIES WHICH ARE PREDOMINANTLY PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANIES.Subsection (f)(1) shall not apply if:

(A) the public utility company that is subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission with respect to its retail electric or gas rates is a holding company and is not an affiliate under section 2(a)(11)(B) of another holding company or is not subject to regulation as a holding company and has no affiliate as defined in section 2(a)(11)(A) that is a public utility company subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission with respect to its retail electric or gas rates; and

(B) each State commission having jurisdiction with respect to the retail electric and gas rates of such public utility company expressly permits such public utility to engage in a transaction otherwise prohibited under section (f)(1); and

(C) the transaction (aggregated with all other thenoutstanding transactions exempted under this subsection) does not exceed 5 per centum of the then-outstanding total

capitalization of the public utility. (g) PROHIBITION ON PLEDGING OR ÉNCUMBERING UTILITY ASSETS. -No public utility company that is subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission with respect to its retail electric or gas rates shall pledge or encumber any utility assets or utility assets of any subsidiary thereof for the benefit of an associate foreign utility company. SEC. 34. [792-5c] EXEMPT TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES. (a) DEFINITIONS. -For purposes of this section

(1) EXEMPT TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY.—The term "exempt telecommunications company” means any person determined by the Federal Communications Commission to be engaged directly or indirectly, wherever located, through one or more affiliates (as defined in section 2(a)(11)(B)), and exclusively in the business of providing

(A) telecommunications services;
(B) information services;

(C) other services or products subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission; or

(D) products or services that are related or incidental to the provision of a product or service described in sub

paragraph (A), (B), or (C). No person shall be deemed to be an exempt telecommunications company under this section unless such person has applied to the Federal Communications Commission for a determination under this paragraph. A person applying in good faith for such a determination shall be deemed an exempt telecommunications company under this section, with all of the exemptions provided by this section, until the Federal Communications Commission makes such determination. The Federal Communications Commission shall make such determination within 60 days of its receipt of any such application filed after the enactment of this section and shall notify the Commission

whenever a determination is made under this paragraph that any person is an exempt telecommunications company. Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this section, the Federal Communications Commission shall promulgate rules implementing the provisions of this paragraph which shall be applicable to applications filed under this paragraph after the effective date of such rules.

(2) OTHER TERMS.-For purposes of this section, the terms "telecommunications services” and “information services” shall have the same meanings as provided in the Communications Act of 1934.

(b) STATE CONSENT FOR SALE OF EXISTING RATE-BASED FACILITIES.- If a rate or charge for the sale of electric energy or natural gas (other than any portion of a rate or charge which represents recovery of the cost of a wholesale rate or charge) for, or in connection with, assets of a public utility company that is an associate company or affiliate of a registered holding company was in effect under the laws of any State as of December 19, 1995, the public utility company owning such assets may not sell such assets to an exempt telecommunications company that is an associate company or affiliate unless State commissions having jurisdiction over such public utility company approve such sale. Nothing in this subsection shall preempt the otherwise applicable authority of any State to approve or disapprove the sale of such assets. The approval of the Commission under this Act shall not be required for the sale of assets as provided in this subsection.

(c) OWNERSHIP OF ETCS BY EXEMPT HOLDING COMPANIES.Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, a holding company that is exempt under section 3 of this Act shall be permitted, without condition or limitation under this Act, to acquire and maintain an interest in the business of one or more exempt telecommunications companies.

(d) OWNERSHIP OF ETCS BY REGISTERED HOLDING COMPANIES.—Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, a registered holding company shall be permitted (without the need to apply for, or receive, approval from the Commission, and otherwise without condition under this Act) to acquire and hold the securities, or an interest in the business, of one or more exempt telecommunications companies.

(e) FINANCING AND OTHER RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ETCS AND REGISTERED HOLDING COMPANIES.-The relationship between an exempt telecommunications company and a registered holding company, its affiliates and associate companies, shall remain subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission under this Act: Provided, That

(1) section 11 of this Act shall not prohibit the ownership of an interest in the business of one or more exempt telecommunications companies by a registered holding company (regardless of activities engaged in or where facilities owned or operated by such exempt telecommunications companies are located), and such ownership by a registered holding company shall be deemed consistent with the operation of an integrated public utility system;

(2) the ownership of an interest in the business of one or more exempt telecommunications companies by a registered holding company (regardless of activities engaged in or where facilities owned or operated by such exempt telecommunications companies are located) shall be considered as reasonably incidental, or economically necessary or appropriate, to the operations of an integrated public utility system;

(3) the Commission shall have no jurisdiction under this Act over, and there shall be no restriction or approval required under this Act with respect to (A) the issue or sale of a security by a registered holding company for purposes of financing the acquisition of an exempt telecommunications company, or (B) the guarantee of a security of an exempt telecommunications company by a registered holding company; and

(4) except for costs that should be fairly and equitably allocated among companies that are associate companies of a registered holding company, the Commission shall have no jurisdiction under this Act over the sales, service, and construction contracts between an exempt telecommunications company and a registered holding company, its affiliates and associate companies.

(f) REPORTING OBLIGATIONS CONCERNING INVESTMENTS AND ACTIVITIES OF REGISTERED PUBLIC-UTILITY HOLDING COMPANY SYSTEMS.

(1) OBLIGATIONS TO REPORT INFORMATION.—Any registered holding company or subsidiary thereof that acquires or holds the securities, or an interest in the business, of an exempt telecommunications company shall file with the Commission such information as the Commission, by rule, may prescribe concerning

(Ă) investments and activities by the registered holding company, or any subsidiary thereof, with respect to exempt telecommunications companies, and

(B) any activities of an exempt telecommunications company within the holding company system, that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on the financial or operational condition of the holding company system.

(2) AUTHORITY TO REQUIRE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. If, based on reports provided to the Commission pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection or other available information, the Commission reasonably concludes that it has concerns regarding the financial or operational condition of any registered holding company or any subsidiary thereof (including an exempt telecommunications company), the Commission may require such registered holding company to make additional reports and provide additional information.

(3) AUTHORITY TO LIMIT DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION.Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commission shall not be compelled to disclose any information required to be reported under this subsection. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the Commission to withhold the information from Congress, or prevent the Commission from complying with a request for information from any other Federal or State department or agency requesting the information for purposes within the scope of its jurisdiction. For purposes of section 552

of title 5, United States Code, this subsection shall be considered a statute described in subsection (b)(3)(B) of such section 552.

(g) ASSUMPTION OF LIABILITIES.-Any public utility company that is an associate company, or an affiliate, of a registered holding company and that is subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission with respect to its retail electric or gas rates shall not issue any security for the purpose of financing the acquisition, ownership, or operation of an exempt telecommunications company. Any public utility company that is an associate company, or an affiliate, of a registered holding company and that is subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission with respect to its retail electric or gas rates shall not assume any obligation or liability as guarantor, endorser, surety, or otherwise by the public utility company in respect of any security of an exempt telecommunications company.

(h) PLEDGING OR MORTGAGING OF ASSETS.--Any public utility company that is an associate company, or affiliate, of a registered holding company and that is subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission with respect to its retail electric or gas rates shall not pledge, mortgage, or otherwise use as collateral any assets of the public utility

company or assets of any subsidiary company thereof for the benefit of an exempt telecommunications company.

(i) PROTECTION AGAINST ABUSIVE AFFILIATE TRANSACTIONS.—A public utility company may enter into a contract to purchase services or products described in subsection (a)(1) from an exempt telecommunications company that is an affiliate or associate company of the public utility company only if

(1) every State commission having jurisdiction over the retail rates of such public utility company approves such contract; or

(2) such public utility company is not subject to State commission retail rate regulation and the purchased services or products

(A) would not be resold to any affiliate or associate company; or

(B) would be resold to an affiliate or associate company and every State commission having jurisdiction over the retail rates of such affiliate or associate company

makes the determination required by subparagraph (A). The requirements of this subsection shall not apply in any case in which the State or the State commission concerned publishes a notice that the State or State commission waives its authority under this subsection.

(j) NONPREEMPTION OF RATE AUTHORITY.—Nothing in this Act shall preclude the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or a State commission from exercising its jurisdiction under otherwise applicable law to determine whether a public utility company may recover in rates the costs of products or services purchased from or sold to an associate company or affiliate that is an exempt telecommunications company, regardless of whether such costs are incurred through the direct or indirect purchase or sale of products or services from such associate company or affiliate.

(k) RECIPROCAL ARRANGEMENTS PROHIBITED.-Reciprocal arrangements among companies that are not affiliates or associate companies of each other that are entered into in order to avoid the provisions of this section are prohibited.

(1) BOOKS AND RECORDS.(1) Upon written order of a State commission, a State commission may examine the books, accounts, memoranda, contracts, and records of

(A) a public utility company subject to its regulatory authority under State law;

(B) any exempt telecommunications company selling products or services to such public utility company or to an associate company of such public utility company; and

(C) any associate company or affiliate of an exempt telecommunications company which sells products or services to a

public utility company referred to in subparagraph (A), wherever located, if such examination is required for the effective discharge of the State commission's regulatory responsibilities affecting the provision of electric or gas service in connection with the activities of such exempt telecommunications company.

(2) Where a State commission issues an order pursuant to paragraph (1), the State commission shall not publicly disclose trade secrets or sensitive commercial information.

(3) Any United States district court located in the State in which the State commission referred to in paragraph (1) is located shall have jurisdiction to enforce compliance with this subsection. (4) Nothing in this section shall

(A) preempt applicable State law concerning the provision of records and other information; or

(B) in any way limit rights to obtain records and other information under Federal law, contracts, or otherwise.

(m) INDEPENDENT AUDIT AUTHORITY FOR STATE COMMISSIONS.

(1) STATE MAY ORDER AUDIT.-Any State commission with jurisdiction over a public utility company that

(A) is an associate company of a registered holding company; and

(B) transacts business, directly or indirectly, with a subsidiary company, an affiliate or an associate company

that is an exempt telecommunications company, may order an independent audit to be performed, no more frequently than on an annual basis, of all matters deemed relevant by the selected auditor that reasonably relate to retail rates: Provided, That such matters relate, directly or indirectly, to transactions or transfers between the public utility company subject to its jurisdiction and such exempt telecommunications company.

(2) SELECTION OF FIRM TO CONDUCT AUDIT.—(A) If a State commission orders an audit in accordance with paragraph (1), the public utility company and the State commission shall jointly select, within 60 days, a firm to perform the audit. The firm selected to perform the audit shall possess demonstrated qualifications relating to

(i) competency, including adequate technical training and professional proficiency in each discipline necessary to carry out the audit; and

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