Advocacy Filings

When government bodies and other organizations consider cases or policy decisions that affect consumers or competition, the FTC may offer insight and expertise to decision makers by filing an advocacy letter. To find a specific filing, use the filters on this page.

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FTC/DOJ Joint Comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Regarding Modifications to FERC Requirements for Review of Certain Transactions and Market-Based Rate Applications

Matter Number:

V170000

Docket Number:

RM16-21-000

The FTC and DOJ submitted a comment to FERC regarding market power in wholesale electricity markets. The comment responds to a FERC request for comments on how it assesses market power with respect to mergers and electricity sales at market-based rates, which it evaluates under the Federal Power Act (FPA). The agencies encouraged FERC not to rely solely on structural indicators of market power, such as market share or concentration, when assessing market power under FPA sections 203 and 205.

FTC Staff Reply Comment Before the State of New York Public Service Commission in the Reforming the Energy Vision Proceeding, Concerning the NY PSC Staff White Paper on Ratemaking and Utility Business Models

Matter Number:

V140012

Docket Number:

14-M-0101

FTC staff submitted a comment in the New York State Public Service Commission’s (NY PSC’s) Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding regarding that agency’s “Staff White Paper on Ratemaking and Utility Business Models.” The comment suggests that the White Paper, which describes the REV’s objectives only in terms of lower prices or lower power bills, should also focus on improvements to electric system efficiency and on increases in the value that customers derive from customized electricity services. The comment encourages the NY PSC to consider concerns about potential cross-subsidization by distribution utilities and unfair competition in services that independent firms provide to DER investors, owners, and organizers. It also suggests adjustments to some of the distribution utilities’ financial incentives in order to improve customer benefits and avoid harm to competition and efficiency.

FTC Staff Reply Comment Before the State of New York Public Service Commission in the Reforming the Energy Vision Proceeding, Responding To Third-Party Comments on the NY PSC Benefit-Cost Analysis

Matter Number:

V140012

Docket Number:

Case 14-M-0101

The FTC staff submitted a reply comment to the New York State Public Service Commission (NY PSC) regarding that agency’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding. The FTC staff comment recommended that the principles set forth in the NY PSC Staff White Paper on Benefit-Cost Analysis (Staff BCA) recognize how customers can benefit from a greater ability to match the electric services they receive to their preferences among such services. The comment also noted that the principles need to take into account a broader spectrum of benefit and cost criteria, such as service quality, customization of services to match customer preferences, and the effects of increased competition on price. It also suggested that the Staff BCA include sensitivity analysis to allow electricity distributors and the NY PSC to respond appropriately if future technological, economic, and environmental conditions differ from conditions that the Staff BCA currently anticipates.

Comment Filed by Jessica Rich, Discussing Voluntary Code of Conduct for Utilities and Third Parties Providing Consumer Energy Use Services

BCP Director Jessica Rich wrote a letter to the Federal Smart Grid Task Force, of the U.S. Department of Energy regarding their draft Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) for protecting consumer energy use data. She suggested three changes to the draft VCC. First, she suggested adding a requirement for “just-in-time” consumer disclosure, particularly for mobile apps. Second, she suggested that all disclosures be required to be “clear and conspicuous.” Third, she suggested that the “prevailing state/local business practice” exception, for not following portions of the code, be clarified so that it is not interpreted as an individual company’s decision whether or not to follow parts of the VCC, after they have adopted it.

Federal Trade Commission Staff Reply Comment to the New York State Public Service Commission on “Reforming the Energy Vision” Project

Matter Number:

V140012

The FTC staff submitted a reply comment in response to certain comments filed with the New York State Public Service Commission (NY PSC) regarding the proposal to authorize the establishment of entities known as Distributed System Platform (DSP) operators, which would be responsible for balancing electricity supply and demand on local, lower-voltage distribution lines. The FTC staff comment recommended the use of a competitive procurement process to select the entities that will serve as DSP operators. This would allow a variety of bidders to show how they could keep administrative costs low, remove incentives to discriminate against independent distributed energy resources, and provide other benefits to electricity customers. The FTC staff comment also encouraged the NY PSC to use a competitive procurement approach to appoint independent market monitors to evaluate the performance of DSP operators, and suggested ways to improve the performance of the electric distribution system.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Regarding Its Investigation of Time-Varying Retail Rates for Electric Power

Matter Number:

V140003

Docket Number:

DPU 14-04

FTC staff submitted a comment in response to a request by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) for comments on its investigation of dynamic pricing for residential electricity customers. The staff comment articulated the potential benefits of dynamic pricing and identified fundamental difficulties in reconciling the “basic” rate-regulated service in Massachusetts with rapid innovations in services and equipment – such as “smart” appliances and electric cars – which enable customers to respond to incentives to reduce electricity consumption during peak demand. The comment recommended that DPU adopt a peak-time rebate plan similar to that adopted by Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E), once appropriate electric meters and associated consumer education and consumer protection programs are in place.

FTC Staff Reply Comment Before the District of Columbia Public Service Commission Concerning a Proposed Program for Dynamic (Variable) Pricing of Electricity for Residential Customers, Formal Case Nos. 1086 and 1109

Matter Number:

V140001

FTC staff submitted a comment in response to the District of Columbia Public Service Commission’s (DC PSC) request for comments on Potomac Electric Power Company’s (Pepco’s) proposed dynamic pricing program for residential customers. The comment encouraged DC PSC to adopt the proposal as a constructive initial step toward improving the efficiency of the electric system in a way that can benefit many customers, but also leave the existing price structure in place for customers who do not (or cannot) respond to the efficiency incentives. It also recommended that DC PSC periodically review the effects of the proposed approach, with a focus on the accuracy of the price signals being conveyed, consumer participation in and satisfaction with the program, and methods to enhance consumer participation and satisfaction. The comment further recommended that DC PSC ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place with respect to the personal information that smart meters generate about customers and ensure that entities that receive such personal information protect it appropriately.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Public Service Commission of the State of Delaware Concerning its Proposal to Revised Its Rules for Certification and Regulation of Electric Suppliers

Matter Number:

V130011

Docket Number:

49

FTC staff submitted a comment before the Public Service Commission (PSC) of the State of Delaware, in response to a request for comments on a proposal to revise its rules for certifying and regulating electricity suppliers. The staff comment noted the potential benefits of dynamic pricing, and encouraged the PSC to consider the potential costs associated with a proposal to require electricity suppliers to give customers at least five days’ advance notice of price changes. The comment identified alternatives to a five-day notice period that would provide consumers with the benefits of dynamic pricing via devices such as “smart meters” while assuring that consumers have accurate and timely electricity price information. The comment recommended that, if the PSC chooses to implement such alternatives, it could also require special prominence for disclosures pertaining to price variability and early termination charges in residential retail electricity sales contracts involving variable rates.

FTC Staff Comment Before The Arizona Corporation Commission Concerning Retail Electric Competition, Docket No. E00000W-13-0135

Matter Number:

V130010

Docket Number:

E00000W-13-0135

FTC staff submitted a comment in response to a request from the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) for comments on retail electric competition in Arizona. The comment agrees with the ACC that it is timely for Arizona to consider retail competition that would enable consumers to select from specialized power suppliers using metering innovations now widely available in the state. Retail choice can help consumers match their preferences for bill savings, increased reliability, renewable power, and energy management services. For example, consumers can lower their bills by shifting power use away from periods when the power system depends on more costly generation resources or faces challenges to its reliability, and they can choose how much power to consume from renewable generation sources.

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