Staff Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs

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Sunday, February 14

9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Staff Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs
View Presentations 
MR 4/Ballroom North
9:00 a.m. - 9:05 a.m.

Panelist: Cynthia Muir, Chair, Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs


9:05 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.
New Protection Tools for Solar Customers
As solar energy use increases across residential and small commercial markets, so does the need for increased consumer protection. While solar is a promising option, misunderstandings occur without a full understanding of solar characteristics and the choices in ownership and finance models. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) launched a consumer protection committee to identify and prioritize consumer protection issues, develop new tools and solution sets, educate the public and industry, and engage with federal, State, and local policymakers and regulatory officials. Developments include:
  • SEIA Solar Business Code (code of conduct) and procedures for bringing a claim under the Code
  • SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power
  • Templates for model leases and power purchase agreements with the U.S. Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Alerts on critical issues, such as advertising regulations
  • Educational webinars on consumer law, advertising laws, and the SEIA Solar Business Code.
Learn more about the solar industry, its top consumer protection issues, what SEIA and industry members are doing to increase consumer understanding, and how SEIA and States can work alongside one another to protect consumers.

Tom Kimbis, Vice President & General Counsel, Solar Energy Industries Association
Chet McGensy, Director, Policy & Electricity Markets and Regulatory Counsel, SolarCity


9:40 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Review of Utility Billing and Customer Care: Current Issues, and Future Directions
An Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) Billing Symposium held in November 2015 was the catalyst for the NRRI Research Paper being introduced today. The IURC Symposium provided an opportunity for open dialogue among about 75 invited participants representing Indiana electric, natural gas, and water utilities, IURC, and consumer interests. NRRI researchers surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia for information on billing rules and related communications, and consumer complaints data. Other information sources for the Paper include a literature review, sample utility bills, and utility and commission publications. Learn the NRRI Research Paper findings as the presentation reviews: (1) the 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; (3) complaints data by industry type and topic.

Tom Stanton, Principal Researcher for Energy and Environment, National Regulatory Research Institute
Chetrice Mosley, Executive Director of External Affairs, IURC


10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Networking Break


10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Carrier of the Last Resort (COLR) in Transition
(JOINT SESSION with the Subcommittee on Telecommunications
COLR represents a longstanding universal service policy throughout the country – that every American household have access to reliable and affordable phone service. At its most basic, the COLR obligation involves the requirement that a carrier offer service throughout its territory. In the midst of the current technology transition and the advent of alternate voice technologies and providers, recent FCC activity, and State regulatory changes, what is the status of COLR nationwide? Where does this leave the American consumer and what actions should State regulators take?

Kerri DeYoung Phillips, Counsel, Competition Division, Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable
Barbara Cherry, The Media School, Indiana University
Lynn Follansbee, Vice President, Law & Policy, USTelecom
Brian Ford, Regulatory Counsel, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association
Art Martinez, Vice President State Government Relations, CenturyLink
Barrett Sheridan, Assistant Consumer Advocate, Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
Joe Witmer, Commissioner Counsel, Pennsylvania