OCS Policy Objectives
The OCS works with its advisory board, the Committee of Consumer Services, to establish the policy objectives it uses as its foundation for taking positions in regulatory forums and advocating on behalf of residential and small commercial consumers. These objectives include best practices in utility regulation and consumer advocacy and are consistent with the State of Utah energy and telecommunications policies. The OCS takes positions consistent with these objectives and always based upon analysis and evidence that can be clearly presented to the Commission.
1. Reliable Service at Reasonable Cost. Advocate positions and take appropriate actions that will result in public utilities providing reliable service to Utah consumers at the lowest reasonable cost, while appropriately considering risk factors.
2. New Electric Generating Resources. Support processes for determining new electric resources that consider all appropriate costs, benefits and risks to Utah consumers without showing a preference for any type of fuel or generating source. Support decisions that minimize costs (appropriately considering risk) and maximize benefits to consumers in the long run.
3. Public Processes. Support public processes in the regulation of public utilities that promote broad participation, transparent operations, and maintain consumer protections.
4. Maximizing Consumer Information. Promote maximizing consumer access to and understanding of information about utility operations, the regulatory and rate setting process, and all energy, telecommunications and related consumer protection issues.
5. Pursue Cost Beneficial Public Policies. All public policies that impact Utah consumers of public utilities should be pursued in a manner that minimizes costs, while appropriately considering risk and maximizes benefits to consumers in the long run.
6. Rates Used Only to Fund Utility Service. Utility rates of residential and small commercial customers should not be used as a funding source for the enactment of non-utility policies or programs that are not directly linked to the provision or consumption of utility services for those customers.
7. Low Income Programs. Support a reasonable amount of funding from non-participating customers for utility low income programs in recognition of the associated, but difficult to quantify, general rate benefits associated with these programs.
8. Maximize Benefits Without Being Unjust to Any Subset. Advocate positions and take appropriate actions that generally aim to maximize overall benefits for residential and small commercial customers, while also opposing any utility rate or policy that is unjust or unreasonable for any subset of these customers.
9. Cost Effective Energy Efficiency. Support cost effective energy efficiency and conservation programs via rate mechanisms that minimize rate shocks and ensure that an appropriate level of benefit from the programs accrues to residential and small commercial customers.
10. Consumer Protections. Promote consumer protections for Utah public utility consumers including, but not limited to:
- Access to safe and reliable energy and telecommunications services.
- Strong privacy protections to ensure that customer records and personal information, including payment and usage history, are only accessible to the customer, the utility and its partners and used solely for standard operations of the utility, such as efficient use of utility resources, production of accurate customer bills and the facilitation of conservation and energy efficiency programs. Any additional third party use must be explicitly authorized by the customer.
- Fair and reasonable standards for terms and conditions of service such as deposit and credit requirements, service denials and terminations, and deferred payment provisions.
- Prohibitions of unfair, deceptive, fraudulent and anti-competitive practices on the part of any provider of electricity, natural gas or telecommunications.
- Access to unbiased, accurate and understandable information concerning price, terms of service, and actual usage on all utility bills, marketing literature and relevant communications.
- Widespread distribution of the benefits of any new regulated services, such as technological advances, improved efficiency, and competitive prices.
11. Utah Universal Service Fund. Advocate positions that promote universal service as well as ensure proper oversight and efficient use of Utah Universal Public Telecommunications Service Support Fund (also known as the Utah USF).
12. Voluntary Utility Rate Tariffs. Support the development of voluntary utility rate tariffs to meet customer demand or public policy goals so long as the following conditions are met: 1) the purpose and operation of the tariff are clearly and accurately communicated to customers, 2) programs that offer products with “green attributes ” such as RECs, carbon credits or renewable natural gas must be transparent in exactly what is being provided and meet appropriate industry standards for verification and tracking of green attributes, 3) separate cost accounting to ensure that no costs are shifted to non-participating customers, and 4) either sunset provisions or adequate annual reporting requirements to ensure that the previous three conditions are being met.