On May 15, 2019, with the support of various Democratic co-sponsors, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the “Public Engagement at FERC Act” (S. 1477) to amend the Federal Power Act to establish an Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy (“Office of PPCA” or “Office”).  The bill was first introduced by Senator Shaheen in 2017 and was created to assist residential and small commercial energy consumers in participating in FERC proceedings.

As set out in the bill, the Office of PPCA would be an extension of FERC and would be charged with intervening in administrative or judicial proceedings on behalf of energy customers regarding all matters pertaining to natural gas siting and infrastructure development under FERC’s jurisdiction.  This Office would also participate on behalf of energy customers in matters involving jurisdictional rates, charges, prices, tariffs, or service utilities and natural gas companies.  In addition, the Office would be responsible for monitoring and reviewing energy customer complaints and grievances on matters involving rates or services of public utilities and natural gas companies within FERC’s jurisdiction.

Under the proposed legislation, the Office would be led by a Director, appointed by the Secretary of Energy, who must be a licensed attorney and have experience in public utilities proceedings.  The Director would be authorized to procure from a Federal department or agency any information the Director deemed necessary to carry out the Office’s obligations and responsibilities.  Likewise, the Director would be charged with establishing an advisory committee that is responsible for holding meetings and publishing their findings and recommendations on the Office’s public website.  In addition to committee reports, the Office of PPCA would be responsible for publishing reports on market practices, proposed improvements in FERC’s monitoring of market practices, and potential improvements to FERC and industry practices.

Click here to read the full proposed bill.