Legislation that would create an Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The “Public Engagement at FERC Act” is designed to assist residential and small commercial energy consumers in participating in FERC proceedings. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Establish an office that would directly participate in FERC proceedings on rates, service, and infrastructure siting to represent the interests of residential and small commercial consumers.
- Employ directed outreach methods, such as consultation services and technical assistance, to ensure the interests of the public are adequately represented at FERC.
- Create a Public and Consumer Advocacy Advisory Committee for the office composed of representatives from the national and state-based nongovernmental consumer advocacy community.
- Prepare reports and issue guidance for potential improvements to industry and FERC practices to better incorporate the public voice.
- Provide intervenor funding to individuals or small commercial energy consumer groups to encourage their participation in FERC proceedings.
In the House, the bill is H.R. 2656, sponsored by Rep. Janet Schakowsky (D-IL-9) and co-sponsored by 4 Democrat Representatives. In the Senate, Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH) is the lead-sponsor; co-sponsors are 5 fellow Democrats, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Sen. Shaheen had introduced a similar measure in the last Congress. No number has been assigned the Senate bill at this writing. The legislative text is available here.