The act implements some of the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies' (department) sunset review and report regarding the office of consumer counsel (office) and the utility consumers' board (board) by:
- Continuing the office and the board for 7 years, to 2028;
- Changing the name of the office to the office of the utility consumer advocate and the name of the head of the office from the consumer counsel to the director;
- Changing the board from a type 1 transfer to a type 2 transfer; and
- Repealing requirements that the board annually review the office's performance and confer with the executive director of the department regarding hiring and performance evaluation matters.
The act also:
- Authorizes the director to consider statutory decarbonization goals, just transition, and environmental justice when determining whether it is in the public interest to appear in a proceeding before the public utilities commission (commission);
- Removes the cap on the number of employees that the director may employ;
- Authorizes the office to intervene in matters before the commission that relate to the provision or quality of telecommunications service;
- Prohibits the office from recommending that the commission take action that would interfere with collective bargaining regarding a regulated industry's employee wages, health insurance, or retirement benefits;
- Authorizes the director to inspect records and documents of a public utility and conduct depositions under oath of an officer, agent, or employee of a public utility;
- Requires the director or the director's designee to provide policy analysis to the executive director of the department regarding legislative matters pending before the general assembly that directly relate to the office's mission;
- Authorizes the office to make presentations and provide other forms of education to the general assembly about certain public utility matters; and
- Requires the department to include in its annual "State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent (SMART) Government Act" presentation to the general assembly information regarding the office's work, including a summary of the matters in which the office intervened in the preceding year.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)