Change was the operative word this year in New Orleans at the annual gathering the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Bob Anderson, Montana commissioner and outgoing...
PUCs at 2000 - Question TwoState Commissioners
Question: What is your relationship with the state legislature? Do lawmakers in your state show interest in utility regulation? Should PUCs work more closely with state legislatures?Response by Boyce Griffith, Chairman, West Virginia Public Service Commission:
The West Virginia PSC's relationship with the legislature is good. The West Virginia legislature has been active in utility regulation. I believe West Virginia utilities already work closely with the legislature and will continue to do so. [End of Boyce response]
Response by Steve Ellenbecker, Chairman, Wyoming Public Service Commission:
The Wyoming PSC has a positive and open working relationship with our legislature that has served it well during the rapid emergence of competitive forces in the natural gas, telecommunications, and electric industries. The relationship is not confined to times when the legislature is actually in session, but is characterized by continuing contacts and collaboration throughout the year on utility matters ranging from state and national legislative developments to constituent questions and infrastructure problems. This relationship has been strengthened through the process, begun in May 1994, of successful
collaboration in the development of the Wyoming Telecommunications Act of 1995 and a companion bill covering gas and electric utilities, both of which give significant flexibility to the PSC and to regulated industries in meeting the challenges of developing healthy competition in the marketplaces. The active participation of our governor has reinforced the entire process.
Some Wyoming legislators entered into this collaboration as experts in various regulatory topics; many others became experts during the development of this legislation. One of our PSC's strengths is that most of Wyoming's lawmakers are interested in utility regulatory matters, and many share interests in constituent service and economic development issues to which vigorous and competitive utilities can make a positive contribution.
It is important for PUCs to work closely with state legislatures. The utility issues that PUCs and legislatures will be asked to address are developing too rapidly and are too complex to be handled effectively through sporadic communication. Both groups can contribute strengths to the partnership. Because it is the PUCs and not the legislatures that address utility issues on a full-time basis, it is up to the PUCs themselves to be proactive in bringing issues to the attention of legislators and seeking out their perspectives. Because legislators are in touch with their local businesses and communities to a greater extent than PUCs, they can be of significant help to commissions regarding service problems and trends before they become major problems. This base of common understanding will make legislative and regulatory progress more effective and more efficient. Because we and the state legislatures serve basically the same constituency of citizens, businesses, institutions, and industry, we must understand one another and work together. [End of Ellenbecker response]
Response by Lawrence B. Ingram, Chairman, New Mexico Public Utility Commission:
We have an excellent working relationship not only with the New Mexico State Legislature, but our congressional members as well. One of the key elements is to keep them informed on a continuing basis. For example, our legislature started looking at retail wheeling during