Presentation on theme: "Missouri Public Service Commission Consumer Affairs by Contessa Poole-King Consumer Services Coordinator."— Presentation transcript:
Missouri Public Service Commission Consumer Affairs by Contessa Poole-King Consumer Services Coordinator
Missouri Public Service Commission Established in 1913 Regulates investor-owned electric, steam, natural gas, water, sewer and telephone companies Regulates manufacturers and retail dealers who sell new and used manufactured homes and modular units Mission: Ensuring Missouri consumers have access to safe, reliable and reasonably priced utility service while allowing those utility companies under our jurisdiction an opportunity to earn a reasonable return on their investment.
Missouri Public Service Commission Five Commissioners Appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Missouri Senate Appointed to six-year terms; terms are staggered so no more than two terms expire in any given year Governor designates one member to service as Chairman
Missouri Public Service Commission The Commission is assisted by a staff of professionals in the fields of: Engineering Accounting Law Finance Management Economics Consumer Affairs
Safe and reliable utility services at Just, reasonable and affordable rates; Rates must be set at a level which will provide the companies’ shareholders an opportunity (not guarantee) to earn a reasonable return on their investment. Missouri Public Service Commission is both quasi- judicial and quasi-legislative. The PSC has the statutory responsibility of ensuring that consumers receive: Role of Regulators in Providing Consumer Protections
We will provide the public the information they need to make educated utility choices; Support economic development through either traditional rate of return regulation or competition, as required by law; Provide an efficient regulatory process that is responsive to all parties, and perform our duties ethically and professionally.
Ensure compliance with safety and quality of service standards; Enforcement of Commission rules, tariffs and statues; Rulemaking-promulgation of administrative rules and their enforcement; Operational safety of rural electric cooperatives and municipally owned utilities. Role of Regulators in Providing Consumer Protections
Consumer input into the regulatory decision making process Why have them: Consumers have an opportunity to present comments to PSC Commissioners about the rate increase request; Commission receives information on billing and service related issues. PSC Staff follows up with consumers who testify; Educate consumers on the PSC and the rate case process. Local Public Hearings
Information Session: Open forum, less restrictive than local public hearing; Time given to have one-on-one conversations to get information; Consumer questions addressed by PSC Staff, Utility Personnel and Office of Public Counsel; Educate consumers on the PSC and the rate making process (PowerPoint Presentation, Fact Sheets, Information Sheets). Local Public Hearings (cont.) Consumer input into the regulatory decision making process
Customers unable to attend public hearings and wish to make a comment may contact the PSC. Comments may also be registered in a case using the PSC’s Electronic Filing and Information System (EFIS). Customers can also submit comments to the Office of the Public Counsel. Public Comments Consumer input into the regulatory decision making process
consumer Bill of rights & Consumer Responsibilities consumer Bill of rights & Consumer Responsibilities
Right to utility service, if denied, company must provide an explanation for refusal and advise what steps are necessary to receive service; Speak to qualified utility personnel during normal business hours; Question and dispute all or part of a charge; File an informal / formal complaint with PSC.
A disconnection notice from the utility company stating the date on or after which service will be discontinued for non-payment and appropriate action necessary to avoid discontinuance. Twenty-one (21) day extension if discontinuance of service will aggravate an existing medical emergency of any resident at the premise where service is rendered.
Avoid discontinuance of heat related service when the National Weather Service predicts the temperature will drop below 32° Fahrenheit (applies November 1 to March 31 during the Cold Weather Rule period). Avoid discontinuance of cooling related service when the National Weather Service predicts the temperature will rise above 95° Fahrenheit or that the heat index shall rise above 105° Fahrenheit (applies June 1 to September 31 during the Hot Weather Rule period).
Plan Ahead: While it is not required, consumers should contact the utility company several weeks before moving. Consumers must cooperate by providing key consumer information to the utility company: Name and proof of identification Service and mailing address Contact information
Pay a deposit if required Pay your bill on time Follow through on payment arrangements Provide the company access to their equipment Pay a bill correcting a previous undercharge
MPSC Consumer Services unit consumer complaint procedures MPSC Consumer Services unit consumer complaint procedures
First impression of the Public Service Commission; Capture metrics to identify trends by utility type: billing issues and service quality issues are identified by geographical area to react proactively rather than reactive; Identify educational needs; Legislators, policy makers and constituents learn more about utility rates and issues with easy access to information through the Consumer Services Unit. How the consumer Services Unit benefits the consumer & Regulator
Complaint Policy 4 CSR Complaints (1 ) Any person or public utility who feels aggrieved by an alleged violation of any tariff, statute, rule, order, or decision within the commission’s jurisdiction may file a complaint. A complaint may also be filed by the commission on its own motion, the commission staff through the staff counsel, or the Office of the Public counsel.
4 CSR Commission Complaint Procedures (1) Prior to filing an informal or formal complaint, the customer shall pursue remedies directly with the utility as provided in this chapter. The commission specifically reserves the right to waive this requirement when circumstances so require. Complaint Policy
Two Types of Consumer Complaints Informal Complaint Formal Complaint
Consumer Inquiry: An issue PSC staff can resolve without contacting the utility company. Inquiries also incorporate EFIS Quick Hits that include “referrals” to other information sources on matters over which the PSC has no jurisdiction (wireless, cable TV billing issues, Internet service providers, satellite service). Informal Complaint: An issue typically involving a billing, payment, service quality or safety issue that requires PSC staff to contact the utility company for mediation or resolution. It does not necessarily mean the utility has violated Commission rules and regulations or the company’s tariff. Informal complaint
Name, street address and telephone number of each complainant and, if one (1) person asserts authority to act on behalf of the others, the source of that authority; Address where the utility service was rendered; Utility against whom the complaint is filed; Nature of the complaint and the complainant’s interest therein; Relief requested and the measures taken by the complainant to resolve the complaint. Complainant shall state, either in writing, by telephone or in person at the commission’s offices: Informal complaint
Educate Consumers: oOn such issues as billing, service outages, inter-company processes, installation process and assistance programs. Timely Response with Complete Information: oRespond on disconnects within 1 business day and for all other issues within 3-15 business days. oProvide as much detail as possible to avoid Consumer Services staff requesting additional information (follow Utilities Checklist). Utility Cooperation is Critical: Informal complaint
formal complaint If complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the informal complaint, as an appeal process, a formal complaint may be filed. The Commission may order, at any time after the filing of a formal complaint, an answer from the utility regarding the allegations and an additional investigation by the staff as to the facts of the complaint. The utility shall file an answer and staff shall file a report of its findings with the commission and all parties to the complaint case.
formal complaint The Commission orders a pre-hearing so that the parties can discuss any additional discovery necessary, state the list of witnesses and exhibits. Parties shall provide a list of suggested dates and estimated length of the hearing to the Judge. The Judge then encourages the parties to discuss possible settlement. The Commission after receiving notice from the parties will determine if a hearing shall be held and shall set date, time and place of the hearing.
formal complaint Formal Complaint Form Chapter 2-Practice and Procedure Handbook-Representing Yourself Before the Missouri Public Service Commission: What is the Complaint Process What Other Tools Does the PSC Have to Help Me What Should I Expect When I Appear before the PSC What can I Expect in a Complaint Hearing Can the Office of the Public Counsel Represent me Personally in a Proceeding before the PSC
Receive, investigate and respond to consumer inquires and informal complaints to ensure compliance with Commission rules and utility company tariffs. This involves : Enforcing Chapter 13 - Service & Billing Practices for Residential Customers of Electric, Gas and Water Utilities; Enforcing Consumer Bill of Rights (as identified by each company ); Enforcing Rule and Regulations (state and federal level); Rules and Enforcement
Processes Continued…... Assisting in the development of proposed rules and regulations; Educating consumers; Documenting all facts on any complaint dispute or inquiry; Acting as the liaison between consumer and utility; Providing professional analysis (i.e. reviewing facts, bill analysis, verifying application of rules and regulations); Mediating a fair and reasonable resolution for both consumer and utility. Rules and Enforcement
Strategies to Ensure Compliance by Utilities Allow for Open and Joint Communications Complaints / Inquires Reporting Requirements Rules and Rule Proposals Tariff Language and Proposals Upfront Discussions on Promotions Share Information Meet Periodically with Utility Company o Roundtable o Site Visit
Utility Companies Social Service Agencies Legislators Government Agencies Local State Federal Faith Based Organizations Schools Community Organizations Partnerships provide access to additional resources and expands your audience. Members of the organization immediately become an additional audience for the project. MPSC Partnerships:
Legislative Town Hall Meetings Education Forums Energy Fairs Health and Senior Service Fairs Missouri State Fair Missouri Legislative Black Caucus
Enhancing Consumer Interface Communicate with consumers either verbally, face-to-face, or in writing regarding their questions or concerns; Provide informational material, PowerPoint presentations, vendor booths and PowerTOWN®; Share “how-to” brochures we receive from utility companies (i.e. understanding your bill, read your meter, apply for energy assistance, conserve, weatherize, rebate programs); Provide assistance on how to file informal and formal complaints; Referrals.
Media Relations and Public Outreach Press Releases: Commission decisions Hearing dates for cases before the PSC Setting of the intervention deadline in a case Consumer alerts-potential for high natural gas bills, rate increase request, safety Distribute press releases to Capitol Press Corps Available on Commission website Various media outlets and consumer groups receive releases via our listserve
Media Relations and Public Outreach Increase consumer awareness of MPSC: Educate consumers on PSC Electronic Filing and Information System (EFIS) so they can access information on cases; Webcast of Commission hearings, local public hearings and agenda; PowerPoint presentations which illustrate the Commission’s role and functions as they relate to utilities in Missouri; Provide informational materials to the General Assembly as requested.
Media Relations and Public Outreach Publications: Information Sheets (Fact Sheets) Consumer Newsletters Brochures MPSC Annual Report PSConnection Magazine Press Releases
Consumer affairs The End Consumer affairs The End