Statutory authority – CGS Sec. 16-2a
Central Office – Ten Franklin Square,
New Britain, CT 06051
Capital expenditures - $0
The Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) is the State of Connecticut’s advocate for all utility ratepayers. OCC seeks to ensure just and reasonable rates and reliable utility service for customers of Connecticut’s electric, gas, telephone, and water utilities and reasonable protections for cable television customers. OCC’s advocacy includes the promotion of beneficial policies for ratepayers, such as the conservation of energy resources. We participate actively in proceedings before the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and state and federal courts. We also seek to advance the goals and protect the needs of ratepayers at the U.S. Congress and the State Legislature.
OCC continues its effective representation of the ratepayer in traditional litigation at the DPUC by development of policy and legal positions by the Consumer Counsel in consultation with staff and by thorough preparation of its cases including comprehensive analysis of the evidence filed by other parties or intervenors, cross-examination of utility witnesses, presentation of its own evidence through senior staff or outside experts and constant honing of its oral and written skills. This year at the DPUC, OCC had many successful cases particularly in the docket wherein the renewable energy alternative options were developed for consumers. Also of note, OCC has taken two cases (an electric one and a gas one) to the Connecticut appellate courts, through which OCC will seek clarification on several issues important to utility ratepayers and utility practitioners. OCC also was involved in several settlements which brought benefits to ratepayers as well as the utility and eliminated the need for protracted and costly litigation with an uncertain outcome.
On the telephone front, the OCC scored a victory at the Connecticut Supreme Court in a case directly protecting consumers from the questionable practices of a pay phone provider; argued at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this year in a case to promote competition for all forms of telecommunications (telephone, cable TV, and Internet service); and issued comments on our website, on the dismal status of telecommunications competition in this state, advocating the steps needed to bring competition to this market.
Cable TV is narrowly regulated by the DPUC under state law (e.g., rates are regulated by the FCC under federal law) that Adelphia customers are not negatively impacted by the legal and financial troubles affecting the company due to the fraud of its corporate officers. OCC also participated in several franchise renewal proceedings affecting other cable providers.
OCC serves on various boards that affect ratepayer issues such as the Consumer Education Advisory Council. OCC is chair of this Board, which advises the DPUC on implementation of the legislative mandate to educate electric consumers about changes in the electric industry in Connecticut. This year and last, the Board worked closely with DPUC to enhance its electric outreach website, Wattsnewct.com, for easier navigation and “one stop shopping” for electric restructuring information. OCC also is an active member of the Energy Conservation Management Board, an advisory board assisting the utility administrators of the ratepayer funded Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund. Another Board membership of note is our role on the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board (CEAB). CEAB is charged with developing the state’s annual energy plan, developing preferential criteria for energy projects and has the power to initiate requests for proposals for energy projects to address the state’s needs, short or long-term, on a more sustainable, strategic basis. CEAB works closely with ISO-NE and the Connecticut Siting Council, the agencies that must approve aspects of these types of projects.
Over the course of this year, OCC met its responsibilities with success despite the budget impacts with the able assistance of an experienced staff and outside experts as necessary. We look for continued good results for utility consumers in the years ahead.
Information Reported as Required by State Statute
The OCC is an equal opportunity employer committed to the letter and the spirit of affirmative action.