Staff Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs

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Sunday, July 16

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


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


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