The National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates
Resolution 2005-03


Calling upon state regulatory authorities and legislatures to refuse to allow, or to consider revoking, annual tracking adjustments to rates resulting from additional non-traditional  gas, water, sewer  or electric infrastructure replacement programs;

Whereas, traditional ratemaking methodologies have allowed investor shareholders to earn a return on new and upgraded mains and electric plant through general rate case reviews allowing the ratepayers being charged for the prudent and necessary system upgrades to be represented in traditional contested rate proceedings in which all items of expense and capital investments are considered; and

Whereas, depreciation provides a “funding” mechanism for natural gas, water, sewer,  and electric plant replacement because it reduces net operating income and increases the revenue required from rate payers for an acceptable rate of return during the formal rate proceeding; and

Whereas, traditional ratemaking processes have withstood the test of time, so that all parties represented have an opportunity to have their interests fairly represented; and

Whereas, parties representing the interests of shareholders and company managements may propose “short-circuit” methods focused on single categories of increased expense, in order to “speed up” the recovery of costs outside the normal regulatory process, and to provide regulators ways to avoid the rate review process; and

Whereas, utilities in several states have proposed, either in rate cases or as state legislation, various “tracking methodologies” which, if allowed, would enable them to increase rates through non-traditional ratemaking processes sometimes called DSIC (Distribution System Improvement Charge), DSR (Distribution System Replacement), AMRP (Accelerated Main Replacement Program) PRP (Pipeline Replacement Program) which would allow immediate rate recovery of capital investment for new projects on a year-by-year basis in order to replace certain rate base infrastructure through a surcharge; and

Whereas, if such tracking methodologies were allowed, regulatory authorities may not be able to review such capital investments for prudence, and may not be able to review possible offsetting contemporaneous cost reductions or revenue increases from other utility activities; and

Whereas, if such tracking methodologies are allowed ratepayers will become involuntary investors paying for unreviewed investments that will increase rates;

Whereas, at a time of rising commodity costs, regulators need to understand the potential significant new burden upon consumers caused by a tracking surcharge for plant additions;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NASUCA calls upon state regulatory authorities and legislators to refuse to impose on consumers, or to consider revoking, non-traditional infrastructure surcharges that would increase natural gas, water, sewer or electric utility bills without traditional opportunity for consideration of countervailing cost decreases and revenue increases, and review by all parties including appropriate consumer advocacy offices prior to implementation and to remain committed to traditional ratemaking principles fairly representing the interests of both consumers and stockholders.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NASUCA authorizes its Standing Committees to develop specific positions and to take appropriate actions consistent with the terms of this resolution to secure its implementation, with the approval of the Executive Committee of NASUCA.  The Standing Committees or the Executive Committee shall notify the membership of any action taken pursuant to this resolution.


Submitted by:

Michael D. Chrysler, Chair, Consumer Protection Committee

June 12, 2005

Approved by NASUCA

Place:  New Orleans, LA

Date: June 14, 2005