Print Friendly SENATE BILL NO. 1163 – PUC, consumer’s advocate division
SENATE BILL NO. 1163
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S1163......................................................by STATE AFFAIRS
PUC - CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE DIVISION - Adds to existing law to create a
Consumer's Advocate Division within the Public Utilities Commission; to
provide for appointment and powers of the consumer's advocate; to specify
the duty of certain public utilities to provide documents; and to authorize
the consumer's advocate to represent customers' interests.
02/13 Senate intro - 1st rdg - to printing
02/14 Rpt prt - to St Aff
|||| LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO ||||
Fifty-sixth Legislature First Regular Session - 2001
IN THE SENATE
SENATE BILL NO. 1163
BY STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
1 AN ACT
2 RELATING TO CREATION OF A CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE WITHIN THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COM-
3 MISSION; AMENDING CHAPTER 2, TITLE 61, IDAHO CODE, BY THE ADDITION OF A
4 NEW SECTION 61-216, IDAHO CODE, TO CREATE THE CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE DIVISION
5 WITHIN THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION, TO PROVIDE APPOINTMENT AND TO
6 REQUIRE OFFICE SPACE; AMENDING CHAPTER 2, TITLE 61, IDAHO CODE, BY THE
7 ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION 61-217, IDAHO CODE, TO PROVIDE POWERS OF THE
8 CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE; AMENDING CHAPTER 2, TITLE 61, IDAHO CODE, BY THE
9 ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION 61-218, IDAHO CODE, TO SPECIFY THE DUTY OF CER-
10 TAIN PUBLIC UTILITIES TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTS; AND AMENDING CHAPTER 2, TITLE
11 61, IDAHO CODE, BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION 61-219, IDAHO CODE, TO
12 AUTHORIZE THE CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE TO REPRESENT CUSTOMERS' INTERESTS.
13 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
14 SECTION 1. That Chapter 2, Title 61, Idaho Code, be, and the same is
15 hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and des-
16 ignated as Section 61-216, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
17 61-216. CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE DIVISION. There is created within the public
18 utilities commission the consumer's advocate division. The administrative head
19 of the division is the consumer's advocate who shall be appointed by the gov-
20 ernor, subject to confirmation by the senate, to a term of four (4) years. The
21 consumer's advocate must be knowledgeable in the various areas of the regula-
22 tion of public utilities. He must be independent of and have no pecuniary
23 interest in any utility or industry regulated by the public utilities commis-
24 sion. The governor may remove the consumer's advocate from office for ineffi-
25 ciency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.
26 The public utilities commission shall provide suitable offices properly
27 equipped for the consumer's advocate division. The consumer advocate shall
28 have the authority to employ such staff as is necessary to carry out the
29 duties and functions of the office, in accordance with the personnel practices
30 and procedures of the public utilities commission.
31 SECTION 2. That Chapter 2, Title 61, Idaho Code, be, and the same is
32 hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and des-
33 ignated as Section 61-217, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
34 61-217. POWERS. The consumer's advocate may, with respect to all public
35 utilities except railroads and cooperative utilities:
36 (1) Conduct or contract for studies, surveys, research or expert testi-
37 mony relating to matters affecting the public interest or the interests of
38 utility customers.
39 (2) Examine any books, accounts, minutes, records or other papers or
40 property of any public utility subject to the regulatory authority of the pub-
41 lic utilities commission of Idaho in the same manner and to the same extent as
1 authorized by law for members of the public utilities commission and its
3 (3) Petition for, request, initiate, appear or intervene in any proceed-
4 ing concerning rates, charges, tariffs, modification of service or any related
5 matter before the public utilities commission or any court, regulatory body,
6 board, commission or agency having jurisdiction of any matter which the
7 consumer's advocate may bring before or has brought before the public utili-
8 ties commission or in which the public interests of any particular class of
9 utility customers are involved. The consumer's advocate may represent the pub-
10 lic interest or the interests of any particular class of utility customers in
11 any such proceeding, and he is a real party in interest in the proceeding.
12 (4) Apply for an order or subpoena for the appearance of witnesses or the
13 production of books, papers and documents in any proceeding in which he is a
14 party or intervenor, in the same manner as any other party or intervenor, and
15 make arrangements for and pay the fees or costs of any witnesses and consul-
16 tants necessary to the proceeding. If any person ordered by the public utili-
17 ties commission to appear before it as a witness pursuant to this subsection
18 fails to obey the order, the commission shall apply for a subpoena commanding
19 the attendance of the witness.
20 SECTION 3. That Chapter 2, Title 61, Idaho Code, be, and the same is
21 hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and des-
22 ignated as Section 61-218, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
23 61-218. DUTY OF CERTAIN PUBLIC UTILITIES TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTS. All public
24 utilities, except railroads and cooperative utilities, shall provide the
25 consumer's advocate with copies of any proposed changes in rates or service,
26 correspondence, legal papers and other documents which are served on or deliv-
27 ered or mailed to the public utilities commission of Idaho.
28 SECTION 4. That Chapter 2, Title 61, Idaho Code, be, and the same is
29 hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and des-
30 ignated as Section 61-219, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
31 61-219. REPRESENTATION OF CUSTOMERS' INTERESTS. (1) The consumer's advo-
32 cate has sole discretion to represent or refrain from representing the public
33 interest and any class of customers in any proceeding.
34 (2) In exercising his discretion, the consumer's advocate shall consider
35 the importance and extent of the public interest or the customers' interests
36 involved and whether those interests would be adequately represented without
37 his participation.
38 (3) If the consumer's advocate determines that there would be a conflict
39 between the public interest and any particular class of customers or any
40 inconsistent interests among the classes of customers involved in a particular
41 matter, he may choose to represent one (1) of those interests, to represent no
42 interest, or to represent one (1) interest through his office and another or
43 others through outside counsel engaged on a case-by-case basis.
. . . . . . . . . . . STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
It is the purpose of this legislation to establish an ombudsman
for the public at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. This
would establish a clearly recognizable contact for the people who
wish to have their concerns on utility rate increases heard and
considered by the IPUC. This ombudsman for the public would also
be empowered to represent the people before the IPUC.
It is anticipated that the cost of this proposal would be based
upon 1 FTP (the ombudsman) and 1 FTP for support staff. Based on
the current IPUC budget the salary range for the Ombudsman would
be from $53,000 to $65,000 a year plus standard benefits. The
salary range for the support staff would be from $50,000 to
$63,000 a year plus standard benefits. The IPUC is funded solely
by fees collected from regulated utilities in the amount of not
more than 0.3% (currently .28%) of their intrastate revenues
except for railroad which are assessed not more than 1%
(currently .4987%) of their gross operating revenues derived from
their intrastate business. There would be no impact to the
general fund. Currently the IPtJC Fund has a "freefund" balance
of $ 2,725,600.00 thus making the cost of this proposal minimal.
Name: Senator Shawn Keough
Phone: 332 1000
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/FISCAL NOTE S 1163