Consumer Affairs

Return to the Compiled Agenda

Sunday, February 14, 2016

9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Staff Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs
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MR 4/Ballroom North
9:00 a.m. - 9:05 a.m.
Welcome

Panelist: Cynthia Muir, Chair, Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs

 

9:05 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.
New Protection Tools for Solar Customers
As solar energy use increases across residential and small commercial markets, so does the need for increased consumer protection. While solar is a promising option, misunderstandings occur without a full understanding of solar characteristics and the choices in ownership and finance models. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) launched a consumer protection committee to identify and prioritize consumer protection issues, develop new tools and solution sets, educate the public and industry, and engage with federal, State, and local policymakers and regulatory officials. Developments include:
  • SEIA Solar Business Code (code of conduct) and procedures for bringing a claim under the Code
  • SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power
  • Templates for model leases and power purchase agreements with the U.S. Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Alerts on critical issues, such as advertising regulations
  • Educational webinars on consumer law, advertising laws, and the SEIA Solar Business Code.
Learn more about the solar industry, its top consumer protection issues, what SEIA and industry members are doing to increase consumer understanding, and how SEIA and States can work alongside one another to protect consumers.

Panelists:
Tom Kimbis, Vice President & General Counsel, Solar Energy Industries Association
Chet McGensy, Director, Policy & Electricity Markets and Regulatory Counsel, SolarCity

 

9:40 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Review of Utility Billing and Customer Care: Current Issues, and Future Directions
An Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) Billing Symposium held in November 2015 was the catalyst for the NRRI Research Paper being introduced today. The IURC Symposium provided an opportunity for open dialogue among about 75 invited participants representing Indiana electric, natural gas, and water utilities, IURC, and consumer interests. NRRI researchers surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia for information on billing rules and related communications, and consumer complaints data. Other information sources for the Paper include a literature review, sample utility bills, and utility and commission publications. Learn the NRRI Research Paper findings as the presentation reviews: (1) the different goals and objectives for utility billing and customer care systems, held by utilities, Commissioners, consumer interests, and society at large; (2) state billing rules, noting similarities and differences and identifying 16 important topics included in many state rules; (3) complaints data by industry type and topic.

Panelists:
Tom Stanton, Principal Researcher for Energy and Environment, National Regulatory Research Institute
Chetrice Mosley, Executive Director of External Affairs, IURC

 

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

 

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Carrier of the Last Resort (COLR) in Transition
(JOINT SESSION with the Subcommittee on Telecommunications
)
COLR represents a longstanding universal service policy throughout the country – that every American household have access to reliable and affordable phone service. At its most basic, the COLR obligation involves the requirement that a carrier offer service throughout its territory. In the midst of the current technology transition and the advent of alternate voice technologies and providers, recent FCC activity, and State regulatory changes, what is the status of COLR nationwide? Where does this leave the American consumer and what actions should State regulators take?

Moderators:
Kerri DeYoung Phillips, Counsel, Competition Division, Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable
Panelists:
Barbara Cherry, The Media School, Indiana University
Lynn Follansbee, Vice President, Law & Policy, USTelecom
Brian Ford, Regulatory Counsel, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association
Art Martinez, Vice President State Government Relations, CenturyLink
Barrett Sheridan, Assistant Consumer Advocate, Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
Joe Witmer, Commissioner Counsel, Pennsylvania

 

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Committee on Consumer Affairs
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Mount Vernon B
1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.
Robo Calls
With the FCC’s recent actions to eliminate unwanted robo calls received on landline and now wireless phones, the panel will explore the spread of unsolicited sales calls and what consumers can do to help curb the problem.

Moderator: Hon. Brandon Presley, Mississippi
Panelists:
Bikram Bandy, Do Not Call Program Coordinator, Federal Trade Commission
Kevin G. Rupy, Vice President, Law & Policy, USTelecom
Antonio Sweet, Technology Advisor to the Chief Technologist, Federal Communications Commission

 

2:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Networking Break

 

2:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Review of Utility Billing and Customer Care: Current Issues and Future Directions
An Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) Billing Symposium held in November 2015 was the catalyst for the NRRI Research Paper being introduced today. The IURC Symposium provided an opportunity for open dialogue among participants representing Indiana electric, natural gas, and water utilities, IURC, and consumer interests. NRRI researchers surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia for information on billing rules and related communications, and consumer complaints data. Other information sources for the Paper included a literature review, sample utility bills, and utility and commission publications. Learn the NRRI Research Paper findings as the presentation reviews: (1) the different goals and objectives for utility billing and customer care systems, held by utilities, Commissioners, consumer interests, and society at large; (2) state billing rules, noting similarities and differences and identifying 16 important topics included in many state rules; (3) complaints data by industry type and topic.

Moderator: Tom Stanton, Principal Researcher for Energy and the Environment, National Regulatory Research Institute
Panelists:
Hon. Jim Huston, Indiana
Chetrice Mosley, Executive Director of External Affairs, IURC

 

2:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Update from NASUCA
Recently taking the lead of NASUCA, new Executive Director David Springe and President Bob Nelson will provide an update on the Association and ways that NARUC and NASUCA can work together to benefit consumers.

Moderators:
Bob Nelson, President, NASUCA
David Springe, Executive Director, National Association of Utility Consumer Advocates

 

3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Keeping Michigan Warm Coalition
The Michigan PSC has adopted a successful collaborative approach for reaching vulnerable populations with needed assistance that is now being expanded to handle broader consumer issues. The panel will explore what works, what doesn’t, and what new ideas may be useful in reaching customers facing a myriad of issues who need assistance.

Moderator: Hon. John Quakenbush, Michigan
Panelists:
Monica Martinez, Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm and Ruben Strategy Group
Melissa Seifert, Government Affairs, AARP
Jamie Curtis, Director of Energy Assistance Services, The Salvation Army
Winston Feeheley, Manager of Corporate and Government Affairs, DTE Energy

 

4:15 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Consumer Attitudes Regarding Utilities and Utility Commissions
An expert at polling utility customers, John Ashford will present updated information that can help Commissions and utility companies better reach customers with information that is meaningful and helpful to them.

Moderator: John Ashford, Chairman, The Hawthorn Group, L.C.