Print Friendly SENATE BILL NO. 1300 – Public Utility Consumer Advocate
SENATE BILL NO. 1300
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PUBLIC UTILITY CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE - Adds to existing law to provide for
the creation of a Public Utility Consumer's Advocate in the Office of the
Attorney General; to provide the powers of the consumer's advocate; to
direct certain public utilities to provide certain documents; to provide
for representation of the consumer's interests; and to provide financing
for the office from the Public Utilities Commission Fund.
01/17 Senate intro - 1st rdg - to printing
01/18 Rpt prt - to St Aff
|||| LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO ||||
Fifty-sixth Legislature Second Regular Session - 2002
IN THE SENATE
SENATE BILL NO. 1300
1 AN ACT
2 RELATING TO CREATION OF A PUBLIC UTILITY CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE; AMENDING TITLE
3 48, IDAHO CODE, BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW CHAPTER 17, TITLE 48, IDAHO CODE,
4 TO PROVIDE THE PUBLIC UTILITY CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE IN THE OFFICE OF THE
5 ATTORNEY GENERAL, TO PROVIDE THE POWERS OF THE CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE, TO
6 DIRECT CERTAIN PUBLIC UTILITIES TO PROVIDE CERTAIN DOCUMENTS, TO PROVIDE
7 FOR REPRESENTATION OF CONSUMER'S INTERESTS AND TO PROVIDE FINANCING FOR
8 THE OFFICE FROM THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION FUND.
9 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
10 SECTION 1. That Title 48, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended
11 by the addition thereto of a NEW CHAPTER, to be known and designated as Chap-
12 ter 17, Title 48, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
13 CHAPTER 17
14 PUBLIC UTILITY CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE
15 48-1701. PUBLIC UTILITY CONSUMER'S ADVOCATE. Within the office of the
16 attorney general, there is created the office of the public utility consumer's
17 advocate. The consumer's advocate must be knowledgeable in the various areas
18 of the regulation of public utilities. He must be independent of and have no
19 pecuniary interest in any utility or industry regulated by the public utili-
20 ties commission.
21 The attorney general shall provide suitable offices properly equipped for
22 the consumer's advocate division. The consumer advocate shall have the author-
23 ity to employ such staff as is necessary to carry out the duties and functions
24 of the office, in accordance with the personnel practices and procedures of
25 the attorney general's office.
26 48-1702. POWERS. The consumer's advocate may, with respect to all public
27 utilities except railroads and cooperative utilities:
28 (1) Conduct or contract for studies, surveys, research or expert testi-
29 mony relating to matters affecting the public interest or the interests of
30 utility consumers.
31 (2) Examine any books, accounts, minutes, records or other papers or
32 property of any public utility subject to the regulatory authority of the pub-
33 lic utilities commission of Idaho in the same manner and to the same extent as
34 authorized by law for members of the public utilities commission and its
36 (3) Petition for, request, initiate, appear or intervene in any proceed-
37 ings concerning rates, charges, tariffs, modification of service or any
38 related matter before the public utilities commission or any court, regulatory
39 body, board, commission or agency having jurisdiction of any matter which the
40 consumer's advocate may bring before or has brought before the public utili-
41 ties commission or in which the public interests of any particular class of
1 utility consumers are involved. The consumer's advocate may represent the pub-
2 lic interest or the interests of any particular class of utility consumers in
3 any such proceeding, and he is a real party in interest in the proceeding.
4 (4) Apply for an order or subpoena for the appearance of witnesses or the
5 production of books, papers and documents in any proceeding in which he is a
6 party or intervenor, in the same manner as any other party or intervenor, and
7 make arrangements for and pay the fees or costs of any witnesses and consul-
8 tants necessary to the proceeding. If any person ordered by the public utili-
9 ties commission to appear before it as a witness pursuant to this subsection
10 fails to obey the order, the commission shall apply for a subpoena commanding
11 the attendance of the witness.
12 48-1703. DUTY OF CERTAIN PUBLIC UTILITIES TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTS. All pub-
13 lic utilities, except railroads and cooperative utilities, shall provide the
14 consumer's advocate with copies of any proposed changes in rates or service,
15 correspondence, legal papers and other documents which are served on or deliv-
16 ered or mailed to the public utilities commission of Idaho.
17 48-1704. REPRESENTATION OF CONSUMER'S INTERESTS. (1) The consumer's
18 advocate has sole discretion to represent or refrain from representing the
19 public interest and any class of consumers in any proceeding.
20 (2) In exercising his discretion, the consumer's advocate shall consider
21 the importance and extent of the public interest and any particular class of
22 consumers' interests involved and whether those interests would be adequately
23 represented without his participation.
24 (3) If the consumer's advocate determines that there would be a conflict
25 between the public interest and any particular class of consumers or any
26 inconsistent interests among the classes of consumers involved in a particular
27 matter, he may choose to represent one (1) of those interests, to represent no
28 interest, or to represent one (1) interest through his office and another or
29 others through outside counsel engaged on a case-by-case basis.
30 48-1705. FINANCING OF OFFICE. At each regular session, the legislature
31 shall determine the amounts to be expended by the office of public utility
32 consumer's advocate for the direct and indirect costs of performing the duties
33 and responsibilities required by this chapter and shall be appropriated to the
34 office from the public utilities commission fund, section 61-1008, Idaho Code.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
It is the purpose of this legislation to establish an ombudsman
for the public at the Attorney General’s Office. 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 Idaho Public Utilities Commission. 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 current AG budget parameters the salary for the ombudsman
would be $80,300 a year plus standard state benefits of $20,700
for a total cost of $101,000. The salary for the support staff
would be $35,500 a year, plus standard benefits of $11,900 for a
total of $47,400. It is anticipated there will be additional
costs which would be determined by the complexity of rate cases
and subject to annual appropriation. This bill proposes an annual
appropriation to the AG’s office for this office come from the
Idaho Public Utilities Commission Fund. This fund’s sole source
of revenue is from fees collected from regulated utilities at a
statutorily set rate. At the end of FY 2001 the IPUC fund had a
“free fund” balance of $3,650,500.00
Name: Sen. Shawn Keough
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/FISCAL NOTE S 1300