NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATES
R E S O L U T I O N
Urging the Adoption of a Consumer Bill of Rights
Applicable to All Consumers of
Electricity, Gas, and Telecommunications Services
WHEREAS, safe, reliable and affordable electric, gas, and telecommunications services are basic necessities of modern life;
WHEREAS, state utility commissions have traditionally exercised authority over pricing and services provided by public utilities and have developed a comprehensive framework of consumer protections through regulations and policies;
WHEREAS, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recently adopted policies introducing competition into some aspects of the electricity and natural gas marketplace;
WHEREAS, numerous state legislatures and public utility commissions have adopted or are considering the adoption of policies which would unbundle retail electric and natural gas services and open power supply and other utility services to a competitive marketplace;
WHEREAS, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and policies recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission require states to implement the introduction of competition into the local telecommunications marketplace;
WHEREAS, the existence, to whatever degree, of competition in the electricity, gas, and local telecommunications markets does not obviate the need for state utility regulations and consumer protection laws;
WHEREAS, the introduction of competition into the electricity, gas, and local telecommunications markets will create a need for new consumer protections as consumers may be subject to unfair, deceptive, unconscionable, fraudulent, or anti-competitive practices by competitive providers of retail electric, gas, or telecommunications services; and
WHEREAS, effective consumer protections will increase the efficiency of and public confidence in competitive retail electricity, gas, and telecommunications markets;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that NASUCA adopts the attached “Consumer Bill of Rights” as a set of consumer protection principles to apply to all consumers of electric, gas, and telecommunications services, whether competitive or non-competitive;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NASUCA calls upon legislative and regulatory authorities to adopt principles consistent with the attached “Consumer Bill of Rights” to apply to all consumers of electric, gas, and telecommunications services, whether competitive or non-competitive; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NASUCA authorizes its Executive Committee to develop specific positions and to take appropriate actions consistent with the terms of this resolution. The Executive Committee shall advise the membership of any proposed action prior to taking action if possible. In any event, the Executive Committee shall notify the membership of any action taken pursuant to this resolution.
Approved by NASUCA:
Submitted by: NASUCA Consumer Protection Committee
June 10, 1998
Robert Tongren (OH), Chair
Keith Beall (IN)
Anne Becker (IN)
Dian Callaghan (CO)
Brady Cantrell (KS)
Paula Carmody (MD)
Andrew Dembia (NJ)
Rick Guzman (TX)
Susan Henry (PA)
Jim Hurt (GA)
Herbert Jones (DC)
Phyllis Kimmel (DC)
Alfred Levine (NY)
Robert Manifold (WA)
Gerry Norlander (NY)
Heather Sabrie (OH)
Tony Sade (WV)
Marilyn Skibinski (NV)
Marie Spicuzza (IL)
Ralph Spory (AR)
Gary Stewart (IA)
Michael Travieso (MD)
Stephen Ward (ME)
Letitia Wiggins (DC)
CONSUMER BILL OF RIGHTS
Because utility services are basic necessities of modern life, consumers of electric, gas, and telecommunications services, whether such services are competitive or non-competitive, must be assured of the following consumer protections.
1. All consumers must have access to reliable, safe, and affordable energy and telecommunications services.
2. All consumers, including low-income consumers, must be ensured affordable energy and telecommunications services through appropriate state and federal policies.
3. All consumers must receive the benefits of new services, technological advances, improved efficiency and competitive prices.
4. All providers of electric, gas, and telecommunications services must be required to hold a license as a condition of doing business in the state, and appropriate financial, operational, bond or other requirements must be established and enforced.
5. Standards for protecting consumers in matters such as deposit and credit requirements, service denials and terminations, and deferred payment provisions must be applied to all service providers.
6. All consumers must be protected from unfair, deceptive, unconscionable, fraudulent, and anti-competitive practices on the part of any provider of electric, gas, or telecommunications services, including practices such as slamming, cramming, pyramid schemes, and deceptive information regarding pricing and terms and conditions of service.
7. All consumers must be protected from anti-competitive practices of providers of electric, gas, and telecommunications services.
8. All consumers must be given unbiased, accurate, and understandable information concerning the price and terms of service, and in a form that allows simple price and term comparisons. This information must include disclosures about the generation resource mix and the environmental characteristics of their electric and gas purchases.
9. All consumers are entitled to protection of their privacy and must be protected from use of their customer records or payment history without their expressed, informed consent.
10. All consumers must have access to an independent administrative process that provides a simple, quick, and effective means of resolving complaints about service and bills from all electric, gas, and telecommunications service providers.
11. All consumers must be protected from price increases resulting from inequitable cost shifting.
12. All consumers must receive quality service, including a high level of customer service. Standards must be established and enforced to ensure quality service.
13. Sufficient enforcement resources must be provided to ensure that consumers receive the benefits of this Bill of Rights.