To ensure reliable and affordable service remains a primary focus.
Sheri Givens is a former member of NASUCA’s Executive Committee and former Public Counsel for the Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel. She is currently an energy consultant with a national practice, based in Austin, Texas.
Forty-eight is the current number of consumer advocate office members. They are in 41 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, and are associated with the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA).
For those unfamiliar with NASUCA, it originated in 1979 as a non-profit organization. The goal was to provide an avenue for ratepayer advocates nationwide to communicate with one another, share ideas, and file collective testimony, comments or pleadings at the federal level.
Historically, most state utility consumer advocate offices originated in the 1970s and 1980s to give a voice to residential and small business utility consumers at state regulatory agencies. These were being created to address the soaring gas and electricity prices during the nation's energy crisis.
Not all consumer advocate offices or roles are the same. Some are independent, stand-alone agencies created by their state legislature. Some are divisions housed within another agency, like the state attorney general's office. Others exist as non-profit organizations.
Several advocate agencies may represent more than just residential or small commercial consumers (e.g., transportation, agricultural). A number of agency heads are appointed by the state's governor while others may be appointed by the state legislature or an appointed board.