Consumer Affairs

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This agenda is subject to change.

Sunday, July 16

Staff Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs

9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Location: Grand A / Harbor Island 1

9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

A World Without LIHEAP?

Winter’s chill is eased with a cup of hot cocoa, a good book and a heated home. Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic picture for many households that choose between paying high utility bills or buying groceries or keeping cars running. Adequate utility service is a necessity—a key to the health and safety of U.S. households. Fortunately, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)—a targeted block grant program that provides vital heating and cooling assistance—has been the foundation for many programs authorized by state PUCs to assist tens of millions of Americans through cold winters and hot summers. For years, NARUC has supported increased LIHEAP funding, especially considering state budget constraints and a constant strain on the nation’s nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations. But, funding is dwindling. What happens if LIHEAP funding ends up on the chopping block? When the temperatures drop, how can we ensure adequate assistance is available for those consumers—the working poor, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities—who desperately need their heat, not for hot cocoa, but for survival?

Moderator: Phil Boyle, Consumer Service Manager, Oregon Public Utilities Commission

Panelists:

Barbara A. Smith, Manager, Integrated Service Center, Dominion East Ohio Gas

Mark W. Toney, Ph.D., Executive Director, TURN—The Utility Reform Network

Nat Treadway, Managing Partner, Distributed Energy Financial Group, LLC

Mark Wolfe, Executive Director, National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association

Susan R. Corbin, Director, Customer Assistance Division, Michigan Agency for Energy

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

Networking Break

10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Panel IV:  Copper Retirement and the Transition to Broadband

(Joint panel with the Staff Subcommittee on Telecommunications in Harbor Island 1)

The FCC's Copper Retirement NPRM seeks comment on a path to replace copper infrastructure with fiber or wireless to encourage the transition to broadband. This panel will examine the replacement of the copper telecommunications network with fiber and wireless broadband solutions.  It will focus on how industry plans to phase out copper and the impact of that change on consumers, small business, and wholesale customers.  The panel will also address the question of whether companies are purposefully failing to maintain the copper infrastructure, causing consumers to lose service or be forced to other solutions.  Finally, the panel will review the problems and challenges of extending fiber to rural areas. The panel will include the views of consumer advocacy groups and competitive and incumbent telecom providers.

Moderator: Sherry Lichtenberg, Ph.D, Principal for Telecommunications, NRRI

Panelists:

Regina Costa, Telecommunications Director, TURN —The Utility Reform Network

Sarah DeYoung, Executive Director, California Association of Competitive Telecommunications Companies (CALTEL)

Coralette M. Hannon, Sr. Legislative Representative, Financial Security & Consumer Affairs, AARP

Paul Vasington, Director, State Public Policy, Verizon

Monday, July 17

Committee on Consumer Affairs

Location: Harbor Island 3

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

 

Value-Added Electricity Services: New Roles for Utilities and Third-Party Providers

(Joint Meeting with Committee on Energy Resources and Environment)

New technologies enable new value-added services for consumers. Changes in technology also raise questions about the role of electric utilities and third-party providers in a modern grid. Among them:

  • What new value-added services does grid modernization enable, and what are the appropriate roles for utilities and third-party service providers? Should utilities directly compete with competitive providers of new value-added services, or provide new platforms and procurement mechanisms to enable third-party services?
  • What policy and regulatory changes may be needed in the face of increasing competition for electricity services from third-party providers?
  • How should regulators address utility costs for new value-added services, considering customers who do not participate in these offerings?
  • What policy and regulatory approaches best balance promoting innovation with consumer protection?

Panelists include authors of a new report for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Future Electric Utility Regulation series, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The series taps leading thinkers to grapple with complex regulatory issues for electricity to inform ongoing discussion and debate.

Moderator:

Lisa Schwartz, Energy Efficiency Team Leader, Electricity Markets & Policy Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Panelists:

Jon Blansfield, Senior Manager, Strategic Alliances, Institute for Electric Innovation

Ryan Katofsky, Senior Director of Industry Analysis, Advanced Energy Economy

Bob Nelson, Consumer Counsel, Montana Consumer Counsel

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Rural and Underserved Areas – Natural Gas Access and Expansion Initiatives

(Joint with the Committee on Gas)

In April 2017, NARUC established a new Presidential Natural Gas Access and Expansion Task Force. The taskforce leadership team will lead a roundtable discussion that will help foster information gathering for the task force’s charge to create an analytical report on natural gas in these communities that will address, among other things, analysis of current access, relevant policies, and the need for access and expansion and barriers to providing natural gas service to these areas. This roundtable will help to showcase the work that lies ahead for the taskforce.

Moderators:

Hon. John Coleman, Pennsylvania

Hon. Julie Fedorchak, North Dakota

Hon. Brandon Presley, Mississippi

Panelists:

Hon. Stephen Bloom, Oregon

Fred Hanna, Pipeline Business Line Leader (Southeast Group) and Senior Project Manager, AECOM

Kyle Rogers, Vice President – Government Relations, American Gas Association

Don Stanczak, Vice President – Regulatory Affairs, DTE Energy

Tuesday, July 18

Committee on Consumer Affairs

Location: Harbor Island 1

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This meeting will be held in Harbor Island 1.

Combating Robocalling

(Joint Session with Committee on Telecommunications)

Moderator:

Hon. Brandon Presley, Mississippi

Panelists:

Lynn Butler, Executive Director — Regulatory, AT&T

Dave Conn, Vice President, T-Mobile

Richard Shockey, Chairman of the Board, SIP Forum

Brent Struthers, Senior Policy Advisor, Neustar

 

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This meeting will be held in Harbor Island 3.

What’s the Charge to Charge? Rate Design Principles to Facilitate EV Charging

(Joint with Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment)

Managed correctly, EV charging could facilitate cost-effective grid-management services, produce significant emissions benefits, and provide an emerging source of new business opportunity for utilities. Managed incorrectly, EV charging could be more expensive and far more polluting than necessary. This panel will discuss which rate mechanism is better for commercial customers offering EV charging to their tenants or even to the general public—Time of Use rates or Demand Charges.

Moderator: Hon. Meg Curran, Rhode Island

Panelists:

Russell Garwacki, Director, Pricing Design and Research, Southern California Edison

Jim Lazar, Senior Advisor, Regulatory Assistance Project