A Day at North Carolina UC
Chris Ayers is Executive Director, Public Staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
The PUF team made its way to the North Carolina Utilities Commission in mid-February. They received a warm welcome not only from the Commission but also from the independent and large Public Staff, which intervenes on behalf of the using and consuming public.
PUF: The Public Staff is a member of NASUCA, and has a consumer advocate role, but plays a prominent role in the rate filing process. Tell us about when a utility makes a filing, how your staff gets involved?
Chris Ayers: The Public Staff is the consumer advocate in North Carolina, and we are charged by statute with representing the using and consuming public in cases before the Commission. We represent the customers of every utility that comes before the Commission for a rate case, change in service, rider adjustments, or other proceedings.
Our role is a little different from many consumer advocates across the country, but our work is always done through the lens of a consumer advocate because that's what we are statutorily charged to do.
When a rate case is filed, the Public Staff immediately gets the application, testimony and exhibits, and we start reviewing it. We send out discovery requests, which are interrogatories and requests for documents and data. We interview people, and we do an audit and investigation of everything relevant to the utility's case.