Supporting the Establishment of a Federal Fund
to Use in Providing Low-Income Assistance

WHEREAS, electric service is a basic necessity of modern life. Universal electric service therefore must be a key component of our public policy;

WHEREAS, universal electric service, means, at a minimum, access to and availability of firm, reliable power supply, which includes generation, transmission, and distribution services, at affordable rates, to all who desire those services;

WHEREAS, there are Congressional measures introduced which would either permit or require states to offer customers retail electric choice;

WHEREAS, if the electric industry is restructured, the most economically vulnerable customers may be placed at risk because market forces and other factors could cause such customers to no longer receive service or to have their service terminated;

WHEREAS, if low income customers cannot afford their electric bills and are disconnected, they no longer contribute to the fixed cost base of the electric supply and delivery system, and therefore all customers may be harmed;

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of all customers and it is good public policy to keep the customers least able to afford electric service on the system by means of appropriate low income assistance programs available for customers who need them;

WHEREAS, currently, programs such as percentage of income or equal payment plans, low income or lifeline rates, LIHEAP and Weatherization help to serve some of this universal electric service goal;

WHEREAS, if the electric utility industry is restructured, lawmakers should assure that programs to implement universal electric service are adequately funded and are in keeping with the competitive framework in order to protect all consumers from harms in a restructured electric market;

WHEREAS, in a competitive market, costs and related charges for low income energy assistance programs must be designed to be recovered from all utility customers and electric service providers or the even broader base of all taxpayers in a non-bypassable and competitively neutral manner;

WHEREAS, the concept of affordable rates may include rate designs and explicit funding mechanisms that permit residential customers to obtain service at rates that they can afford to pay;

WHEREAS, such an approach should allow low-income consumers to obtain adequate services in a competitive market at affordable rates and prices,

WHEREAS, low income assistance is just one part of universal service. Other consumer protections are also necessary;

WHEREAS, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) has previously supported low income and other universal service programs;

WHEREAS, NASUCA supports the adoption of universal service protections that would include programs for making adequate electric service available at rates and prices which are affordable in any electric restructuring legislation or regulations;

WHEREAS, most states currently have programs designed to protect and/or assist low income customers;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that if federal restructuring legislation is enacted NASUCA supports the establishment of a federal fund to be used to provide low income assistance (such as low income weatherization, bill reduction techniques and education) apart from, and in addition to federal LIHEAP and Weatherization; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the fund may be augmented by efforts at the state level and that states should have primary control over the programs and the distribution of all such funds;

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 pursuant to this resolution.

Approved by NASUCA:

Submitted by:

Seattle, WA

NASUCA Electricity Committee

June 10, 1998

Larry Frimerman (OH), Chair
Thomas Brocato (TX)
Scott Cauchois (CA)
Barry Cohen (OH)
John P. Cook (IN)
Nancy Vaughn Coombs (SC)
Steve Corneli (MN)
Anne Curtin (NY)
George Dean (MA)
William Fields (MD)
Margaret Force (NC)
Brian Gallagher (DE)
Walker Hendrix (KS)
Jim Hurt (GA)
Bruce Johnson (CT)
Robert Kelter
Angela Kennedy (DC)
Eugene Koss (CT)
Ryan Kind (MO)
Thomas Nicholson (VA)
Charles Noble (NM)
Gerald Norlander (NY)
Blossom Peretz (NJ)
William Perkins (ME)
Irwin Popowsky (PA)
Fred Schmidt (NV)
Ben Stead (IA)
Kenneth Traum (NH)