New Database Provides a Window into Public Utility Commissions in All 50 U.S. States
PUC Portal Website Helps Users Better Understand and Navigate the Complex, High Stakes Realm of State Energy Regulation
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a national business organization representing the advanced energy industry, today unveiled a "Public Utility Commission Portal," an online database that provides insight into the official bodies responsible for energy regulation in the 50 states. The site also includes key energy data for each state and a comparison tool that allows users to analyze states side by side.
Decisions made by PUCs will influence the $100 billion in utility infrastructure investments expected each year between now and 2020, ranging from smart meters to transmission lines to new power plants. As a result, commission rulings affect the electric and natural gas bills paid by every business and household in the country. But these state regulatory bodies and their members are little known by the public, and their actions little understood. Each state has its own commission (typically made up of three to seven commissioners), with most appointed by governors to terms of varying length, but some are elected. All told, there are nearly 200 PUC commissioners nationwide, but the lineup is constantly changing. Turnover among utility commissioners is about 25 percent a year; there have been 20 new commissioners seated so far this year.
To help stakeholders and the public better understand and navigate this complex and ever-changing regulatory arena, the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, AEE's charitable and educational affiliate, has developed the PUC Portal website to give users information about the key players in energy policy in each state and the energy infrastructure they oversee. For each state, the PUC Portal provides the names and biographies of each commissioner, along with political affiliation, method of selection, term of office, and requirements for qualification. The site also provides information on other key players in state energy policy, such as executive branch officials and key legislative committees, and data on electricity prices and in-state power generation. Up to four states can be selected for comparison side by side.
"For making our energy system more secure, clean, and affordable, state Public Utility Commissions are the most important institutions most people don't know anything about," said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE and the AEE Institute. "The new PUC Portal will help our members, policymakers, media and the public better understand how electric and natural gas utilities are regulated at the state level, and get key information on the energy circumstances in each state. This information is vital to everyone who cares about making the transition to a smarter energy future."
"The PUC Portal provides a dynamic and effective resource for those seeking further understanding of state utility regulation," said Paul Hudson, former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and an advisor to AEE. "Public utility commissions and those who serve on them are critical decision makers in changing our energy resource mix to be more secure, clean, and affordable. State regulators deserve to be better known, their actions better understood, and their decisions made with greater transparency. The PUC Portal makes that possible."
"Public Utility Commissioners play a critical role in promoting and influencing energy efficiency, clean power, and infrastructure investments at the state level," said Michael Sachse, SVP of Regulatory Affairs and Legal Counsel at Opower. "For companies like Opower that work with utilities in many states across the US, the PUC Portal will be a helpful tool for understanding how energy policies and regulations are set at the state level, and how commissions impact utility investments."
The PUC Portal is part of the AEE Institute's Public Utility Commission program, run by program director Hannah Polikov. The program held its first Public Utility Commissioners Forum, in association with the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners (NECPUC) and the New England Clean Energy Council, in May.
The PUC Portal can be found at http://pucportal.aee.net/
The PUC Portal is the second new web product released by AEE in recent weeks to help users understand the realm of state energy policy. In May, AEE teamed with Colorado State University's Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) to unveil the Advanced Energy Legislation (AEL) Tracker – an online database of energy-related state legislation pending in all 50 states, from solar to natural gas and everything in between. The Tracker shows that state legislatures are considering more than 2,100 bills that could change the way Americans produce, purchase and use energy. The AEL Tracker identifies those measures and monitors the progress of advanced energy bills as they move forward. AEL Tracker can be found at www.aeltracker.org.
About Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and the AEE Institute
Advanced Energy Economy is a national association of businesses and business leaders who are making the global energy system more secure, clean, and affordable. The vision of AEE is a prosperous world that runs on secure, clean, affordable energy. Its mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy companies. The AEE Institute's mission is to raise awareness of the public benefits of advanced energy, drive the policy debate on key topics, and provide a forum where leaders can address energy challenges and opportunities facing the United States. http://aee.net
SOURCE Advanced Energy Economy