Few government agencies affect consumers’ lives as thoroughly as the commissions that regulate utility services. Their decisions affect the cost, quality, and availability of electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, and water. Too often, however, regulators make these decisions without meaningful consumer input, because concerned citizens, consumer groups, and small businesses lack the resources, expertise, or time to participate fully. Some states have acted to expand public participation in these commissions’ decisionmaking processes. Their efforts include establishing significant intervenor-funding programs and making commission proceedings more accessible to non-attorneys, consumer groups without attorneys, and those with limited funding. They also seek to make consumer-input procedures less complex and costly.
Ethics, Transparency, and Public Participation in Regulatory Proceedings: Policy
Policymakers should formally adopt and fully fund an intervenor-compensation program to ensure that community-based organizations and advocacy groups that speak for underrepresented parties will have an informed and effective presence throughout regulatory processes.
Policymakers should make regulatory proceedings more accessible to non-attorneys, consumer groups without attorneys, and those with limited funding. They should reduce the complexity and cost of consumer-input procedures.