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Saturday, February 13, 2016

2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
NRRI Colloquium

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MR 3
2:30 p.m. - 2:35 p.m.
Opening Remarks

Moderator: Rajnish Barua, PhD, Executive Director, National Regulatory Research Institute


2:35 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Telecommunications Carrier of Last Resort: Necessity or Anachronism
This presentation will explore questions regarding the need for and continuation of carrier of last resort (COLR) requirements as the network transitions to Internet Protocol (IP). Will COLR survive the IP transition? How has legislation effected COLR requirements in the States? Is it time to require a broadband COLR?

Panelist: Sherry Lichtenberg, PhD, Principal Researcher, National Regulatory Research Institute


3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Fragmentation in the Water Industry and Regulatory Impacts
More than 155,000 public water systems serve the United States and over 100,000 of those serve less than 500 people. These small water companies struggle with access to capital, technical proficiency and regulatory complexity, among other challenges. This presentation addresses the regulatory challenges of small water companies and examines the considerations that a regulator must keep in mind when addressing them.

Panelist: Dan Phelan, Research Associate, National Regulatory Research Institute


3:30 p.m. - 4:10 p.m.
Review of Utility Billing and Customer Care: Current Issues and Future Directions
This presentation is based on an NRRI Research Paper in which the authors surveyed all 50 States and the District of Columbia to gather information about utility billing rules and practices and related customer communications, including consumer complaint data compiled and reported by the States. In addition to the survey, information was gathered from a literature review, sample utility bills, utility publications, and a Billing Symposium held by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in November 2015. The NRRI Research Paper reviews: (1) the many different goals and objectives for utility billing and customer care systems held by utilities, Commissioners, consumer interests, and society at large; (2) State billing rules, noting similarities and differences and identifying 16 important topics included in many State rules; and, (3) complaint data from almost half of all States, by industry type and topic of complaint.

Panelist: Tom Stanton, Principal Researcher, National Regulatory Research Institute, and Kathryn Kline, Research Assistant, National Regulatory Research Institute


4:10 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Vertical Arrangements for Natural Gas Procurements by Utilities: Rationales and Regulatory Considerations
This presentation discusses utility long-term commitment through utility ownership of gas reserves (UOGR) and a joint venture with an affiliate exploration and production company. All of the utilities proposing UOGR calculate expected gas cost savings for their customers based on information available at the time ? for example, a comparison of gas production costs with market price forecasts ? in addition to long?term hedging/price stability benefits and a more secure gas supply. Vertical arrangements raise several concerns that regulators must grapple with to protect customer interest. UOGR raises unique questions, especially about the risk-reward effect on utility customers relative to utility or its umbrella-company shareholders.

Panelist: Ken Costello, Principal Researcher, National Regulatory Research Institute


4:50 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Questions, Comments, and Closing Remarks

Moderator: Rajnish Barua, PhD, Executive Director, National Regulatory Research Institute