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 PUC has issued a Press Release reminding consumers that its Electric Choice Standard Offer Program offers immediate savings. The Program is geared toward customers who are utilizing their default supply – or paying their utility for electric generation, rather than a competitive supplier. Customers receive a 7% discount off the utility’s generation rate, or price to compare, at the time of enrollment, for 12 months at a fixed rate. The agreement includes no enrollment or cancellation fees, so customers can switch or cancel at any time without penalty. To take advantage of the Program, customers can call their utility and ask about the plan. The utility will explain the offer and transfer the customer to one of its participating suppliers, randomly chosen, who will help enroll the customer in the program. The choice of supplier makes no difference in electric service or contract terms. The utility will still distribute the electricity to the customer’s home, restore outages and send monthly bills. “From a PUC perspective, the Standard Offer Program has brought innovation and stimulated Pennsylvania’s robust competitive markets, producing extraordinary levels of participation in a very condensed timeframe – and providing stability to customers who were hesitant to enter the market during turbulent times with the run-up in variable rate prices,” Chairman Powelson said.
The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau asked for public comment by September 26, 2014, on the implementation and effectiveness of the voluntary recommendations for Internet service providers to combat major cybersecurity threats that were issued by its Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) in 2012. The FCC is particularly interested in comment on the following questions as they relate to the four broad areas of CSRIC’s previous best practices and recommendations:
1. What progress have stakeholders made in implementing the recommendations?
2. What barriers have stakeholders encountered in implementing the recommendations?
3. What significant success stories or breakthroughs have been achieved in implementing the recommendations?
4. What are stakeholders’ views and/or plans for full implementation of the recommendations?
5. How effective are the recommendations at mitigating cyber risk when they have been implemented? Given the experiences gained in the past two years, are there alternatives to full implementation that could be more effective than full implementation at mitigating cyber risk risks posed by botnets, DNS vulnerabilities, routing infrastructure vulnerabilities, and source address spoofing? On what basis do stakeholders believe that these alternatives are more effective than the CSRIC III recommendations? Do stakeholders undertake qualitative or quantitative evaluations of the effectiveness of these various approaches, or both?
Comments may be submitted with a request for confidential treatment.
In a recent speech at the Citizens Against Government Waste policy breakfast, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai discussed the FCC’s efforts to combat fraud in the Lifeline program. He noted that the Lifeline program has been the single largest driver of the increase in the USF and hence, consumers’ phone bills, increasing 25.9 % a year in real terms from 2008 to 2012. “This growth was fueled by substantial fraud and abuse”, he said. He describes the FCC’s efforts since 2012 to combat fraud in the program, noting that from 2012 to 2013, Lifeline spending fell by almost 18%. He recommends that: (1) the Lifeline program be put on a budget; (2) the FCC reduce the financial incentives for people to commit lifeline fraud by, for example, prohibiting wireless Lifeline carriers from giving away free phones, empowering states to police the program, or reviewing the size of the Lifeline subsidy; (3) the FCC fill gaps in its rules that still encourage fraudulent behavior by, for example, requiring that providers keep proof of customer eligibility; and (4) the FCC step up its enforcement efforts.