The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has filed a comment with the Utah Public Service Commission about consumer protection issues related to electric utility restructuring in the state.
The FTC has a longstanding interest in regulation and competition in energy markets, including proposals to reform regulation of the natural gas and electric power industries. FTC staff has submitted numerous comments concerning these issues at both the federal and state levels.
In its comment, the FTC staff noted that among the topics identified in Utah's Report on Consumer Protection to the Electric Deregulation and Customer Choice Task Force, two topics were related directly to the FTC's consumer protection mission: 1) educating consumers about the impact of electricity restructuring, and 2) regulation of electric service providers (ESPs), such as power marketers.
Rather than making specific policy recommendations, the staff comment outlined six areas the Utah authorities might wish to address in the report. These areas included:
1. consumer information disclosures and standardizing some of the information that ESPs disclose to consumers in their advertising;
2. billing, credit and collection practices and ways to protect consumers from fraud and abuses that have occurred in other industries;
3. customer privacy concerns and how the ESPs can protect the personal information they collect through billing, metering and payment collection;
4. utility affiliate rules and potential safeguards to ensure that advertising by affiliates is not deceptive or an unfair method of competition;
5. licensing and registration of ESPs as a means of consumer protection; and
6. consumer education as a vital tool for ensuring that the new retail market functions effectively.
The Commission vote to approve the staff comment was 4-0.
NOTE: The comment represents the views of staff members of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection and not necessarily the views of the Commission or any individual Commissioner.
Copies of the full text of the comment are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.