People's Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye FY 15 Oversight Testimony, March 7, 2016

March 7, 2016

Good morning Chairman Orange, Members of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and other members of the Council, staff and members of the public. For the record, I am Sandra Mattavous-Frye, People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia.

With me today are key members of my staff, including Deputy People’s Counsel Karen Sistrunk, Chief Operating Officer, Eric Scott and Ms. Gurmeet Scoggins, Agency Fiscal Officer from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, who is available to provide specific financial details. 

Today I am responding to your request to update the committee on the progress the Office of the People’s Counsel has made in advocating for the needs of District of Columbia utility consumers in FY15 and FY16 to date. Attached are detailed responses to the 48 questions you submitted to the Office on February 8, 2016.

INTRODUCTION

When I came before you a year ago, I spoke of the “new regulatory horizon” facing DC consumers and how OPC was preparing to meet the challenge. It was apparent to me then, and has been borne out by our experiences, that our local utilities and the utility industry as a whole are undergoing a dramatic shift affecting not only regulation and consumer engagement, but the infrastructure development required to serve present and future customers. OPC now finds itself at a curious juncture between diverse consumer demand and utility efforts to prepare for an uncertain utility future. Consumers clamor for new services and modern technologies, including distributed generation and renewable energy options such as community solar. Utility providers are changing their business models scrambling to find the mix of services that will meet new regulatory requirements for customers and will provide shareholder returns. This is a defining moment that can either lead to chaos or open the doors for new regulatory opportunities. I am hoping for the later.

OPC’s activity in FY 2015, demonstrates that collectively, OPC, policy makers and consumers are shaping the future of utilities in the District of Columbia. This is a responsibility I take seriously.

SUMMARY OF FY 15 ACTIVITIES

Throughout FY 15, OPC through both our Litigation and Consumer Services Divisions operated on all cylinders.

KEY LITIGATION

As reflected in our written responses, our FY 15 case load included 17 active cases. Included in this list are five major precedent setting cases: (1) the Pepco Acquisition/Merger application;(2) the WGL Pipe Replacement settlement; (3) Verizon’s Copper Wire to Fiber Transition investigation, (4) the Pepco Power Line Undergrounding—the PSC decision and DC Court of Appeals (“DCCA” or “Court of Appeals”) filed by the Apartment and Office Building Association (“AOBA”) ; (4) the Grid Modernization proceeding (Grid of the Future) proceeding. Singularly and collectively, these five cases reflect the complexity of the new regulatory landscape. 

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