Urging the Adoption of Universal Service Protections That
Include Programs for Assisting in the Affordability of Electric Service,
as Part of Any Electric Restructuring Legislation or Regulations

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

WHEREAS, universal 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, if the electric industry is restructured, the most economically vulnerable customers may be placed at risk because market forces and other impediments could cause such customers to no longer receive service or to have their service terminated due to unaffordable rates and prices, poor credit, or redlining;

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 payment plans, low income or lifeline rates, LIHEAP and Weatherization help to serve some of this universal service goal;

WHEREAS, if the electric utility industry is restructured, lawmakers should assure that programs to implement universal 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 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 necessary, such as a default provider, to secure firm power at the lowest reasonable cost for all customers not served by other providers;

WHEREAS, NASUCA has long supported low income and other universal service programs; and,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates urges 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;

THEREFORE, 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 notify the membership of any action taken pursuant to this resolution.

Approved by NASUCA:

Charleston, South Carolina

June 11, 1997

Submitted by:

NASUCA Electricity Committee

Larry Frimerman (OH), Chair
Rajnish Barua (DE)
Anne Becker (IN)
Barry Cohen (OH)
Nancy Vaughn Coombs (SC)
Steve Corneli (MN)
Anne Curtin (NY)
George Dean (MA)
Jennifer Duane (DC)
William Fields (MD)
Margaret Force (NC)
Walker Hendrix (KS)
Bruce Johnson (CT)
Robert Kelter (IL)
Lewis Mills (MO)
Thomas Nicholson (VA)
Charles Noble (NM)
Gerry Norlander (NY)
Mark Payne (NC)
William Perkins (ME)
Blossom Peretz (NJ)
Irwin Popowsky (PA)
Fred Schmidt (NV)
Lynda Spears (IN)
Ben Stead (IA)
Kenneth Traum (NH)