(a) The commission may authorize a privately owned water, sewer or combined water and sewer utility to voluntarily implement a rate design featuring reduced rates and charges for service for residential utility customers receiving:
(1) Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
(2) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF);
(3) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families-Unemployed Parent Program (TANF-UP);or
(4) Assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) if they are sixty years of age or older.
(b) The special reduced rate offered by each water, sewer, or combined water and sewer utility to its eligible customers shall be a percentage less, which shall be approved by the commission, than the rate that would be applicable to such customers if they were not receiving any of the four forms of assistance that confer eligibility for the special reduced rates approved by the commission: Provided, That such rate reduction shall not exceed 20 percent of the rate that would be otherwise applicable.
(c) Before any individual may qualify to receive the special reduced rates, the following requirements must be met:
(1) The special reduced rates may apply only to current customers or to those persons who subsequently become customers in their own right. If an SSI, TANF, TANF-UP or SNAP recipient is living in a household that is served under the name of a person who is not an SSI, TANF, TANF-UP or SNAP recipient, that service may not be changed or have been changed subsequent to July 1 , 2011, to the name of the SSI, TANF, TANF-UP or SNAP recipient in order to qualify for service under the special reduced rates.
(2) The burden of proving eligibility for the special reduced rates shall be on the customer requesting such rates. The Department of Health and Human Resources shall establish by rules and procedures:
(A) To inform persons receiving any of the four forms of assistance that confer eligibility for the special reduced rates about the availability of the special reduced rates;
(B) To assist applicants for the special reduced rates in proving their eligibility therefor; and
(C) To assist water, sewer, or combined water and sewer utilities offering the special reduced rates in determining on a continuing basis the eligibility therefor of persons receiving or applying for such rates.
The commission shall establish rules and procedures for the application for and provision of service under the special reduced rates and for the determination and certification of revenue deficiencies resulting from the special reduced rates.
(3) In order to provide each eligible residential utility customer the special reduced rates, each utility providing the special reduced rates shall credit against amounts otherwise owed by each customer an amount equal to the difference between the total amount that each customer was actually billed during the previous month and the total amount that each customer would have been entitled to be billed under the special reduced rates. Each credit shall be fully reflected on the first bill issued to each customer after approval of each customer’s application for the special reduced rates, except in cases where the interval between the approval and the issuance of the next bill is so short that it is administratively impracticable to do so, in which case, such credits shall be fully reflected on the second bill issued to each customer after approval of that customer’s application. If the interval between the approval and the issuance of the next bill is 15 days or more, it may not be deemed administratively impracticable to reflect the credit on the customer’s first bill.