Critical Consumer Issues Forum
For the electric power industry, the smart grid represents a more efficient, reliable and environmentally sustainable path toward the future. But what about consumers? Can a smarter grid be made to work for them too? A report by the Critical Consumer Issues Forum (CCIF) says yes.
The CCIF report, “Grid Modernization Issues with a Focus on Consumers,” was produced by representatives from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
In its report, the CCIF identifies 30 principles for protecting consumer interests while enabling increased investment in cost-effective grid modernization efforts. These principles focus on grid investment, privacy and security, consumer education and communication and federal-state relations.
Representatives from each of the major participating organizations commented on the significance of the CCIF initiative.
“Consumer issues are at the forefront of the grid modernization effort,” said Tony Clark, NARUC president and North Dakota Public Service Commission chairman. “And to gain a better understanding of their interests and concerns, as well as those of electric utilities, the CCIF has proven to be invaluable. The candid dialogues with utility and consumer representatives on issues of importance to their constituents back home also have added depth and perspective to the ongoing discussions NARUC continues to hold with a wide variety of federal agencies on grid modernization technologies and policy. The resulting CCIF report will be a valuable resource to NARUC commissioners everywhere as they make the best possible decisions for consumers in modernizing the electrical grid.”
Mary J. Healey, NASUCA president and Connecticut Consumer Counsel, commented, as well.
“This collaborative process has been both unique and important,” Healey said. “The composition and operation of the CCIF reflect the need for widespread, sustained collaboration in developing the nation’s electrical grid. Giving the consumer point of view equal weight in all the grid-modernization discussions will return dividends not only to the consumer, but also to electric utilities and society as a whole.”
EEI Executive Vice President of Business Operations David K. Owens also commented.
“Given the number of public and private sector initiatives aimed at addressing the issues surrounding grid modernization, the CCIF and its report bring another point of view that is both timely and valuable,” Owens said. “Through a collaborative process, we were able to reach consensus on how to address several of the consumer issues that have been a challenge in moving grid modernization forward. In acting on our principles, state utility regulators, consumer advocates and electric utilities will be able to create a path forward that both protects consumer interests and encourages cost-effective grid modernization investment.”
Launched in 2010 by a few key state commissioners, consumer advocates and electric utility representatives, the Critical Consumer Issues Forum brings state commissioners, consumer advocates and utility service providers together to address consumer-related energy policy issues through highly interactive discourse and debate. While offering guidance and assistance, the CCIF grid modernization principles are not intended to override any individual or collective policies or positions developed by NARUC, NASUCA, EEI or other participating organizations.