Consumer Liaison Group (CLG)
The CLG is a unique consumer group empowered to participate in electricity industry affairs. It was formed in 2009 in response to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order, requiring greater communication between the regional transmission organizations and customers. Our office played a lead role in the process that resulted in the creation of the CLG. Agnes Gormley, Deputy Public Advocate is a member of the Coordinating Committee that governs the efforts of the group.
The goal of the CLG is to create a forum that affords customers the opportunity to more fully understand issues that concern them, including potential changes to the power system and the wholesale markets. The CLG has been instrumental in providing information to stakeholders to help them better understand activities at ISO-NE and the decision-making process that results in potential cost impacts to end users.
To learn more about the Consumer Liaison Group or get involved, please visit the CLG website.
E4 Group (Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation)
Utility transmission rates in New England have dramatically increased over the last decade and are forecast to continue to rise. As a result Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel and Agnes Gormley, Deputy Public Advocate, together with GridSolar, LLC, the Industrial Energy Consumers Group, the Conservation Law Foundation and Environment Northeast formed a working group that advocates for operators and planners of the New England electric grid to consider ways that consumers' needs for a reliable electric system can be met at lower cost. The group has taken an active role in the New England regional stakeholder process to advance necessary changes to market designs and the reliability planning process in order to promote consideration of less expensive alternatives to maintaining reliability.
In May 1979, 16 state consumer advocate office representatives met in Columbus, Ohio to establish the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA). The founders established NASUCA for agencies designated by state law to act as independent ratepayer advocates. The purpose was to provide a forum to exchange ideas, improve consumer representation at the state and federal levels, and encourage greater consumer participation in the regulatory process. The history of state utility consumer advocacy began in the 1970's, when state agencies were created by state legislatures after natural gas and electric prices were driven up by the energy crises of the 1970's. Since the 1970's and early 1980's, the role of the state advocates was to challenge proposed rate increases by the electric, natural gas, telephone and water monopolies. This role was carried out largely by intervening in formal, economic regulatory cases before public utility commissions. In the 1990's and into the 21st century, the state advocates have been at the forefront of protecting consumers during the ongoing transition from monopolies to less regulated markets in which utilities and other firms increasingly compete with one another. Today, as the trend for competition and industry deregulation continues, state consumer advocates shift their focus to consumer protection issues, such as service quality, reliability, and price stability. The organization membership has grown to over 44 member offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. In twelve states, state attorneys general provide utility consumer advocate representation. In 29 other states, governors appoint consumer advocate office directors.
Patty Moody-D'Angelo, Public Service Manager, and Kiera Reardon, Consumer Advisor are members of the Consumer Protection Committee. Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel and Agnes Gormley, Deputy Public Advocate are members of the Electric Committee. Liz Wyman, Senior Counsel and Kiera Reardon serve on the Telecommunications Committee.
In May of 2012 our office became an end-use governance member of NEPOOL, the regional stakeholder advisory group to Independent System Operator-New England (ISO-NE). NEPOOL is a voluntary association of 450 entities, including utilities, energy generators, power marketers, consumer advocates and public interest organizations.
ISO-NE is a regional transmission organization (RTO), serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. ISO-NE manages the operation of the regional electricity grid and New England's wholesale electricity markets. Decisions made at ISO-NE have a significant effect on the cost of electricity within the New England region.
Agnes Gormley, Deputy Public Advocate and Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel are active participants at stakeholder committees at ISO-NE. Our office advocates for cost savings for ratepayers with greatest emphasis on the cost of transmission projects and market rule changes.
The NMISA, a non-profit entity responsible for the administration of the northern Maine transmission system and electric power markets in Aroostook and Washington counties, with a load of approximately 130 MW. The NMISA is responsible for providing an independent, objective and non-discriminatory administration of all transmission access, transmission information access, and related functions, and will monitor and operate the markets in Northern Maine for energy, ancillary, and other services. The NMISA administers the transmission systems of the investor-owned and cooperatively-owned utilities in Northern Maine, and its members also include all municipally-owned utilities, generators, suppliers of energy, and large retail customers operating in the service area. Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel is an Alternate to Brad Ritz who serves on the stakeholder Board as a small customer representative.
35-A §8704. ADVISORY COUNCIL
Membership. The advisory council consists of 12 members as follows:
One member from the office of the Public Advocate, appointed by the Public Advocate; and
Powers and duties. The advisory council shall evaluate telecommunications relay services in this State and shall advise providers of telecommunications relay services regarding telecommunications relay service matters, including, but not limited to, the development of training standards and an evaluation of the service being provided, including the quality and availability of that service. The advisory council may enter into contracts with telecommunications relay service providers for the purpose of providing telecommunications relay services.
Liz Wyman, Senior Counsel was appointed by the Public Advocate to serve on the Advisory Council.