The Consumer Advocate Division's (CAD) primary responsibility is to represent the interests of West Virginia residential users of utility service. CAD’s attorneys advocate for rates, services and practices to benefit residential customers in regulatory and court proceedings. Most of our work takes place in proceedings before the West Virginia Public Service Commission (WV PSC), the state agency that regulates utility companies. These proceedings include cases, rulemakings, public conferences and work groups set up by the WV PSC.
CAD also intervenes in cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency that oversees wholesale electricity markets, interstate electricity transmission and interstate gas transportation. As a result of the deregulation of the retail electric industry in West Virginia in 1999, the importance of FERC policies and decisions for West Virginia consumers has increased dramatically. CAD has been an advocate for West Virginia consumers in numerous FERC cases involving wholesale market issues and interstate transmission line costs to be allocated to West Virginia consumers. At the same time, CAD is an active consumer representative in the PJM [Pennsylvania-New Jersey-West Virginia, the regional electric transmission grid operator] stakeholder groups concerning the operation of the regional transmission organization. We sometimes participate in these cases as part of a coalition of consumer offices and other agencies.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate communications by radio, TV, wire, satellite and cable. The agency also administers the Lifeline LinkUp program for telephone assistance and the Universal Service Fund (USF) and jointly administers the Do Not Call Registry for consumers who want to avoid telemarketing calls. Most recently, as a result of stimulus legislation, the FCC has been charged with implementing a Broadband Initiative to accelerate broadband deployment throughout the country. As an active member of NASUCA, CAD is able to lend its voice on behalf of West Virginia telephone consumers through the submission of comments by NASUCA in numerous FCC dockets.
CAD also appears in appellate courts when regulatory orders are challenged by CAD or other parties. The WV PSC’s orders are appealed to the courts of the State of West Virginia, while the federal agency orders are heard on appeal by federal appellate courts.