The Legislature finds that in anticipation of the operative date of the provisions of section four-a of this article, certain regulated utilities have presented to the Public Service Commission a large number of proceedings pursuant to section four of this article. In the public interest, the commission should be granted sufficient authority to make disposition of those cases in an orderly and just manner, consistent with the duties of the commission requiring conversion of its procedure from that provided in section four of this article to that provided in section four-a. In view of the increased demands upon the commission, it is in the public interest to grant to the Public Service Commission additional authority for the suspension of rates in cases filed pursuant to section four of this article.
In any proceeding commenced pursuant to the provisions of section four of this article which is pending on the effective date of this section or is thereafter commenced, the commission may at the commencement of, or during the pendency of, any period of suspension provided for in section four, further suspend the operation of any such schedule and defer the use of such rate, charge, classification, regulation or practice for a further and additional period of one hundred fifty days or such shorter further and additional period as the commission may order. The total period of suspension including the original suspension and the suspension resulting from the application of this section shall not exceed a period equal to the maximum suspension prescribed for the public utility as it is classified in section four-a of this article, according to the number of customers. The statement of reasons adopted pursuant to section four of this article shall be a sufficient statement of reasons for such further and additional period under this section. Any such order for a further and additional period of suspension shall be effective upon its service upon the utility affected thereby, and may make provision for interim rate relief or may provide only for such rates as have been fully approved previously. At the expiration of any such additional period of suspension, the commission shall authorize rates under bond under the provisions of section four of this article, or shall make a final order: Provided, That proceedings in which such further and additional period of suspension have commenced but not expired on July 1, 1981, shall not be treated as filed anew on July 1, 1981, pursuant to section four of this article.