Public Advocates Memberships, Groups and Associations
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation created in 1997 to collect universal service contributions from telecommunications carriers and administer universal support mechanisms (programs) designed to help communities across the country secure access to affordable telecommunications services. USAC carries out its functions as the administrator of the federal universal service programs and universal service fund (USF) under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
USAC administers universal service programs for high cost companies in rural areas, low-income consumers, rural health care providers, and schools and libraries. Wayne Jortner, Senior Counsel at the Public Advocate Office serves as the Treasurer at USAC. He has served as Treasurer for the past 7 years.
MTUG brings together interested individuals in the Maine telecommunications and computer networking industries for education, information, and networking. MTUG members include end users, vendors, consultants, government officials, and other parties who care about issues that affect the telecommunications and information technology of the State of Maine. MTUG provides services through:
- Free monthly educational meetings in varied locations throughout the state.
- An annual telecommunications and computer networking Conference held in Portland every spring.
- Meeting presentations, discussion boards, job postings and other information and documentation provided on the MTUG website.
35-A §8704. ADVISORY COUNCIL
Membership. The advisory council consists of 12 members as follows:
One member from the office of the Public Advocate, appointed by the Public Advocate; and
Powers and duties. The advisory council shall evaluate telecommunications relay services in this State and shall advise providers of telecommunications relay services regarding telecommunications relay service matters, including, but not limited to, the development of training standards and an evaluation of the service being provided, including the quality and availability of that service. The advisory council may enter into contracts with telecommunications relay service providers for the purpose of providing telecommunications relay services.
William C. Black, Deputy Public Advocate was appointed by the Public Advocate to serve on the Advisory Council. One of Bill's many services to the Advisory Council is serving as Clerk for the past 21 years.
The NMISA, a non-profit entity responsible for the administration of the northern Maine transmission system and electric power markets in Aroostook and Washington counties, with a load of approximately 130 MW. The NMISA is responsible for providing an independent, objective and non-discriminatory administration of all transmission access, transmission information access, and related functions, and will monitor and operate the markets in Northern Maine for energy, ancillary, and other services. The NMISA administers the transmission systems of the investor-owned and cooperatively-owned utilities in Northern Maine, and its members also include all municipally-owned utilities, generators, suppliers of energy, and large retail customers operating in the service area. Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel is an Alternate to Brad Rita who serves on the stakeholder Board as a small customer representative.
In May of 2012 our office became an end-use governance member of NEPOOL, the regional stakeholder advisory group to Independent System Operator-New England (ISO-NE). NEPOOL is a voluntary association of 450 entities, including utilities, energy generators, power marketers, consumer advocates and public interest organizations.
ISO-NE is a regional transmission organization (RTO), serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. ISO-NE manages the operation of the regional electricity grid and New England's wholesale electricity markets. Decisions made at ISO-NE have a significant effect on the cost of electricity within the New England region.
Agnes Gormley, Senior Counsel and Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel at the Public Advocate Office are active participants at stakeholder committees at ISO-NE. Our office advocates for cost savings for ratepayers with greatest emphasis on the cost of transmission projects and market rule changes.
The CLG is a unique consumer group empowered to participate in electricity industry affairs. It was formed in 2009 in response to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order, requiring greater communication between the regional transmission organizations and customers. Our office played a lead role in the process that resulted in the creation of the CLG. Agnes Gormley, Senior Counsel is a member of the Coordinating Committee that governs the efforts of the group.
The goal of the CLG is to create a forum that affords customers the opportunity to more fully understand issues that concern them, including potential changes to the power system and the wholesale markets. The CLG has been instrumental in providing information to stakeholders to help them better understand activities at ISO-NE and the decision making process that results in potential cost impacts to end users.
To learn more about the Consumer Liaison Group or get involved, please visit the CLG website. The CLG also has a Newsletter - New England Consumer Liaison Group — Fall, Edition Volume #1, Issue #1 (PDF) You will need the free Adobe Reader to view this document.
In May 1979, 16 state consumer advocate office representatives met in Columbus, Ohio to establish the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA). The founders established NASUCA for agencies designated by state law to act as independent ratepayer advocates. The purpose was to provide a forum to exchange ideas, improve consumer representation at the state and federal levels, and encourage greater consumer participation in the regulatory process. The history of state utility consumer advocacy began in the 1970's, when state agencies were created by state legislatures after natural gas and electric prices were driven up by the energy crises of the 1970's. Since the 1970's and early 1980's, the role of the state advocates was to challenge proposed rate increases by the electric, natural gas, telephone and water monopolies. This role was carried out largely by intervening in formal, economic regulatory cases before public utility commissions. In the 1990's and into the 21st century, the state advocates have been at the forefront of protecting consumers during the ongoing transition from monopolies to less regulated markets in which utilities and other firms increasingly compete with one another. Today, as the trend for competition and industry deregulation continues, state consumer advocates shift their focus to consumer protection issues, such as service quality, reliability, and price stability. The organization membership has grown to over 44 member offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. In twelve states, state attorneys general provide utility consumer advocate representation. In 29 other states, governors appoint consumer advocate office directors.
Wayne Jortner, Senior Counsel is a member on the Telecommunications Committee, Patty Moody-D'Angelo, Public Service Manager is a member of the Consumer Protection Committee, Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel and Agnes Gormley are members of the Electric Committee.
Energy policy, including energy resources, efficiency and conservation; insulation; electric industry, including supply, transmission and distribution; natural gas industry; telecommunications industry, including mobile, telephone, Internet, broadband and cable television services; E-9-1-1; water and sewer utilities, including district charters; Public Utilities Commission (PUC); Office of the Public Advocate; Governor's Office of Independence and Security; and Efficiency Maine Trust. Richard Davies, Public Advocate frequently provides testimony and presentations before EUT Committee.
E4 Group (Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation)
Utility transmission rates in New England have dramatically increased over the last decade and are forecast to continue to rise. As a result Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel and Agnes Gormley, Senior Counsel of the Public Advocate Office, together with GridSolar, LLC, the Industrial Energy Consumers Group, the Conservation Law Foundation and Environment Northeast formed a working group that advocates for operators and planners of the New England electric grid to consider ways that consumers' needs for a reliable electric system can be met at lower cost. The group has taken an active role in the New England regional stakeholder process to advance necessary changes to market designs and the reliability planning process in order to promote consideration of less expensive alternatives to maintaining reliability.