Staff Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs

Final Program  (Using agenda content available as of June 25, 2016) 

Return to the Compiled Agenda

Sunday, July 24

Location: Cumberland 1                         
9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Pricing, Choice, and Customer Communications: Lessons Learned from Other Industries

A guiding principle for regulators is to treat all customers fairly and equally. This often translates into policies that do not reflect divergent consumer priorities or limitations. Grid modernization advances allow collective goals (load shifting, efficiency, operational savings, carbon reduction) to be met by a mix of offerings beneficial to customers that have varied constraints and aspirations.

Research supports the idea that American consumers of all income levels appreciate choices. Many willingly pay premiums for goods and services that provide added value reflecting their priorities while welcoming discounts and loyalty programs. This panel provides insights into the distinct ways diverse customer segments evaluate price incentives including:

  • A new framework for understanding low-income consumer populations based on ability and intention to pay.
  • Marketing strategies predatory businesses use to reach disadvantaged communities and how these same tactics might be applied by utilities in a constructive manner.
  • How popular non-utility industries communicate dynamic pricing and payment options.

The discussion will focus on how these insights are relevant to current challenges facing electric, gas and water utilities and what simple adjustments and innovations could have tremendous positive impact.

Moderator: Phil Boyle, Oregon PUC, Vice-Chair, Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs

Judith Schwartz, To The Point

Nat Treadway, DEFG

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10:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

10:00 a.m. - Residential Demand Charges: Ready for Prime Time?

Demand charges have been around for 100 years for commercial and industrial electric customers. Now some utilities think residential ratepayers should pay a demand charge as well. Indeed, in the last two years, utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois have proposed them – some via PSC filings and some via legislation or as part of a legislative package. Are such charges appropriate for residential customers?  Can customers respond to them? Are there other rate designs that could better address reducing household customer usage during the utility’s high cost peak period? AARP has been active in the debate in a number of states and will review its efforts to address the interests of household consumers.

Speaker: William Malcolm, Senior Legislative Representative, AARP

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10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Networking Break
10:30 a.m.

Rural Wireless and Consumers on the Ground in the States: New Proposals and Issues

Joint with Staff Subcommittee on Telecommunications in the Telecom meeting room - Broadway A/B

The panel will examine recent proposals for a joint federal-state approach to ensuring that rural wireless consumers have access to broadband networks and services comparable to those in urban areas.  The panel will address broadband adoption in rural and, by extension, urban areas associated with rural broadband deployment.

Moderator: Joe WitmerEsq., Counsel to Chairman Gladys M. Brown, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Hon. Catherine J.K. Sandoval, California

John Evans, Small Business Advocate

Dave LaFluria, Cost Quest Associates

Representative TBA, Utilities Technology Council