(1) Whenever, in order to carry out the duties imposed upon it by law, the commission, in a proceeding upon its own motion, on complaint, or upon an application to it, including rate filings, deems it necessary to investigate any jurisdictional utility or make appraisals of the property of any jurisdictional utility, such utility, in case the expenses reasonably attributable to such investigation or appraisal exceed the sum of one hundred dollars, including both direct and indirect expenses incurred by the commission or its staff, shall pay such expenses which shall be assessed against such utility by the commission. Such expenses shall be assessed beginning on the date that the proceeding is filed or beginning three business days after the commission gives the utility notice of the assessment by United States mail, whichever is later. The commission shall give such utility notice and opportunity for a hearing in accordance with rules and regulations adopted and promulgated pursuant to section 75-110. At such hearing, the utility may be heard as to the necessity of such investigation or appraisal and may show cause, if any, why such investigation or appraisal should not be made or why the costs thereof should not be assessed against such utility. The finding of the commission as to the necessity of the investigation or appraisal and the assessment of the expenses thereof shall be conclusive, except that no such utility shall be liable for payment of any such expenses incurred by the commission in connection with any proceeding before or within the jurisdiction of any federal regulatory body.
(2) The commission shall ascertain the expenses of any such investigation or appraisal and by order assess such expenses against the jurisdictional utility investigated or whose property is appraised in such proceeding and shall render a bill therefor, by United States mail, to the jurisdictional utility, either at the conclusion of the investigation or appraisal or from time to time during such investigation or appraisal. Such bill shall constitute notice of such assessment and demand of payment thereof. Upon a bill rendered to such utility, within fifteen days after the mailing thereof, such utility shall pay to the commission the amount of the assessment for which it is billed. Such payment when made shall be remitted by the commission to the State Treasurer for credit to the Public Service Commission Regulation Fund for the use of the commission. The total amount, in any one fiscal year, for which any utility shall be assessed under this section shall not exceed the following: (a) For a jurisdictional utility that has not filed an annual report with the commission as provided in the State Natural Gas Regulation Act prior to the beginning of the commission's fiscal year, actual expenses, including direct and indirect expenses, incurred by the commission; and (b) for any other jurisdictional utility, one percent of the utility's gross operating jurisdictional revenue less gas cost derived from intrastate natural gas utility business as reflected in the last annual report filed with the commission pursuant to the act prior to the beginning of the commission's fiscal year. The commission may render bills in one fiscal year for costs incurred within a previous fiscal year.
(3) The commission, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by subsection (2) of this section, may assess against an entity, other than an individual residential ratepayer or individual agricultural ratepayer, that is not subject to assessment pursuant to subsection (1) of this section actual expenses of any services extended, filings processed, or actions certified by the commission for the entity.