WASHINGTON (January 18, 2022) — The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Center for Partnerships & Innovation today announced the release of two new reports examining how ratepayer interests are represented in state public utility commissions. The publications explore state programs for intervenor compensation and assess engagement between PUCs and consumer advocates.
Intervenor compensation is the practice of reimbursing individuals or groups for the cost of their involvement in utility regulatory proceedings. It enables those who receive funding to advocate for views and issues that may otherwise not be introduced into the proceeding by reducing the financial barriers to intervention. The first report, State Approaches to Intervenor Compensation, provides a state-by-state scan of intervenor compensation practices, reviewing states’ legislative authorization for intervenor compensation, evaluating attributes of active intervenor compensation programs and providing insights on program implementation through case studies.
The report finds that 16 states currently have an authorized intervenor compensation, financing or funding program in their legislative rules and statutes with programs. Of these states, six have active programs — California, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Wisconsin — and Illinois and Washington are establishing programs in 2022, after recent legislation. Additional findings from the report were presented during a December 20, 2021, webinar and are available on NARUC’s website at www.naruc.org/cpi-1/innovation-webinars/.
The second report, released by the National Council on Electricity Policy, is the fifth in a mini guide series promoting dialogue among state-level electricity decision makers. Public Utilities Commissions and Consumer Advocates: Protecting the Public Interest, describes the history of engagement between PUCs and consumer advocates, examines the current and emerging state of engagement between the two parties and offers ideas for how relationships can be strengthened. The mini guide also features interviews with commissioners, commission staff and consumer advocates from Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon.
“As the regulatory landscape evolves, it is increasingly important for the commission to ensure that all consumer interests are accounted for in decision-making,” said Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. “The NCEP mini guide and intervenor compensation report are useful in providing concrete examples and insights for all commissions to continue protecting the public interests through critical engagement.”
“Both reports provide commissions with key considerations for engagement and program implementation that can help states achieve procedural justice — or the equitable representation and inclusion of all stakeholders in the decision-making process,” said Danielle Sass Byrnett, director of NARUC’s Center for Partnerships & Innovation. “These reports further build upon the 2021 Stakeholder Engagement Framework by providing additional details about longstanding and emerging approaches commissions are using to enable more diverse perspectives in their processes.”
NARUC thanks the U.S. Department of Energy for its support in the development of these resources.
State Approaches to Intervenor Compensation was authored by FTI Consulting as a subcontractor to NARUC and is available on NARUC’s website at bit.ly/IntervenorComp. Public Utilities Commissions and Consumer Advocates: Protecting the Public Interest was developed by the Institute for Market Transformation as a subcontractor to NARUC and is available on the new NCEP website at https://www.naruc.org/ncep/.
The National Council on Electricity Policy is a platform for all state-level electricity decision makers to share and learn from diverse perspectives on the evolving electricity sector. Our community includes over 200 representatives from public utility commissions, air and environmental regulatory agencies, governors’ staffs and state energy offices, legislatures, and consumer advocates. We are an affiliate of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Center for Partnerships and Innovation, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC’s member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of state public utility commissions before the three branches of the federal government.