The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The FCC announced the agenda for its September 26, 2013, Open Meeting. Two wireless items will be considered: (1) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to accelerate deployment of wireless infrastructure while at the same time appropriately protecting the Nation’s environmental resources; and (2) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on proposals to improve consumer choice and facilitate improvements to the resiliency of mobile wireless networks during emergencies. The three other items address media issues (1) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the UHF discount to its national television multiple ownership rule; (2) a Memorandum Opinion and Order to resolve a complaint by Bloomberg L.P. that Comcast Cable communications, LLC violated the news neighborhooding condition of the Comcast/NBCU transaction; and (3) an update on progress towards the upcoming October 15-October 29, 2013, open filing window for applicants seeking to operate new Low Power FM radio stations.
The Maine Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) completed a review of the Public Utilities Commission. OPEGA’s review focused on
aspects of compliance, accessibility, and responsiveness of certain PUC processes, including complaints. This was done from the viewpoint of ratepayers and members of the public, rather than that of regulated utilities. OPEGA also considered the adequacy of measures in place to ensure that the PUC acts in an impartial and unbiased manner when regulating public utilities. The PUC has reviewed the report and is considering specific steps to address OPEGA’s recommendations.
Issues OPEGA noted during this review:
- PUC’s adjudicatory proceedings/process can be confusing and intimidating for consumers who want to represent themselves as parties in PUC cases.
- On-line case file system is difficult to navigate and search without a specific docket number.
- Consumers may not be aware that unsworn testimony and on-line comments submitted in PUC cases cannot be relied upon in the Commission’s decision-making.
- PUC lacks a structured process for identifying and addressing emerging issues and common concerns from individual complainants.
- Past associations and current working relationships between PUC staff or Commissioners and the utilities they regulate create risk of actual or