Consumer Affairs Process Streamlined for the IURC and OUCC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 14, 2011
Consumer Affairs Process Streamlined for the IURC and the OUCC
Utility complaints should be directed to the IURC and consumer comments on pending cases to the OUCC
INDIANAPOLIS- The two Indiana state government agencies that handle utility regulatory matters have enhanced their consumer services’ processes, in an effort to help consumers receive the quickest and most efficient service for their needs. Although each agency’s statutory role remains unchanged, the duties related to consumer services have been streamlined and more clearly defined.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) regulates rates, charges and service quality for most Indiana utilities.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents consumer interests in all cases before the IURC.
Effective this week, the IURC’s Consumer Affairs Division will begin handling all consumer complaints about regulated utilities (such as disconnection of service, service quality, billing disputes, and metering concerns). Rather than having to decide which agency to call, consumers will be directed to the IURC, which is the agency with statutory authority to resolve utility disputes and to have a formal appeals process in place.
Additionally, the OUCC will begin collecting all consumer comments and inquiries on pending cases. Directing all case-specific comments to the OUCC will ensure that the state’s utility consumer advocate has the opportunity to review all consumer concerns as it conducts its technical and legal reviews in rate cases and other proceedings. After reviewing comments, the OUCC files them for inclusion in the IURC’s formal evidentiary record, which the IURC Commissioners consider before making a final decision.
In addition to participating in cases, the OUCC offers a wide range of information on general utility consumer topics, including tips on understanding utility bills, ways to save on energy and water, and more. All OUCC publications are available online at: www.in.gov/oucc.
“This approach will provide consumers and both agencies with a clear roadmap,” said IURC Chairman Jim Atterholt. “As a former congressional aide and state legislator, I know from firsthand experience that this reform will make it easier for consumers to find help as they try to resolve a complaint with a regulated utility.”
“Many consumers are not aware that they can have their voices heard in regulatory cases,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “Our hope is that this new process will make more consumers aware of their opportunities to comment, while making the process as simple as possible.”
This week’s changes reflect a collaborative effort between the IURC and OUCC to eliminate duplicative work within the agencies’ consumer affairs divisions. The changes are also intended to ensure prompt and thorough coverage of all consumer contacts by the respective agencies. Both agencies will handle the redistributed workload with existing personnel and resources.
Consumers with utility-specific complaints requiring dispute resolution can contact the IURC toll-free at 1-800-851-4268 or online at www.in.gov/iurc. Consumers who have concerns regarding pending cases or an interest in general utility consumer information can contact the OUCC toll-free at 1-888-441-2494 or www.in.gov/oucc.
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