The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) was founded in 1889 as a non-profit trade organization that regulates multiple utility services, including:
NARUC uses its influence to set public policy, foster new solutions for improved regulation and share best practices. The organization works to ensure that the utility services that people enjoy are fairly priced, fair and just.
Current NARUC Committees
NARUC is overseen by multiple committees that focus on their key most important issues. There are eight committees and task forces that are present and work on the federal and state level to protect customers.
These committees include:
NARUC’s Executive Committee includes the organization’s officers:
- First Vice President
- Second Vice President
- Appointed members
The officers in the Executive Committee are the “face” of the organization, and they are in charge of NARUC’s overall direction.
The Consumer Affairs committee protects the interest of consumers in the energy and telecommunication industry. Many of the issues revolve around consumer protection and education.
The Critical Infrastructure committee was created after the 2001 terror attacks. Security concerns resulted in the committee proposing best security practices for utility infrastructure. The committee includes numerous members of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
The organization created a committee that is responsible for the adequate and affordable supply of energy to consumers. The committee also works alongside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and federal agencies.
Six subcommittees exist under this one committee, which is chaired by a member of the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
In July 2017, experts during the committee’s conference came together to discuss the important of smart technologies and the electric grid. Multiple systems can share information together and present it to consumers.
Energy Resources and the Environment
Environment is a major consideration with today’s rising temperatures. A committee was created that works with state regulators to improve efforts to offer energy utilities that are affordable and attainable.
The committee oversees multiple issues, including:
- Environmental protection
- Energy efficiency
- Net metering
- Low-income assistance for utility customers
NARUC is also involved in the Clean Power Plan to bring together ways to offer clean power to more customers while also offering net metering options to residential users.
Issues surrounding natural gas are the concern of the Committee on Gas. The panel is responsible for educating people. Committee members work with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy on issues,
Multiple subcommittees exist and members include members of Georgia’s and Michigan’s Public Service Commission.
Telecommunications became a major center of focus in 1996 when the industry became deregulated. Committee members stepped up to immediately fill the void in an effort to share best practices and trends in the industry.
Multiple federal agencies work alongside the telecommunications committee, including the FBI, FTC and FCC.
Issues on the use and reuse of water are the focal point of NARUC. Water companies and the EPA work alongside NARUC to discuss all of these major issues.
While the main focus of the organization is the United States, there is an international relations committee to help other countries with their utilities. The outreach program and activities span the globe and are present in Africa, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe.
Supplier and Workforce Diversity
A subcommittee focused on promoting inclusion and the use of competitive procurement practice. The goal of the committee is to provide more opportunities for women, minorities and others within the utility supply markets.
The committee strengthens relationships that provide mutual benefits for investors, ratepayers and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
Innovation and Task Forces
Two main task forces exist in the organization: Innovation and Veteran’s Workforce. Both off these task forces work closely to propel the industry forward.
Innovation of new technology is the focus of one task force that relies heavily on advancing:
- Big data
- Battery storage
- Smart networks
- Internet of Things
- Technology regulations
- Information technology
A Veteran’s Workforce is also present that aims to improve veterans’ programs and job opportunities in the utilities industry.
Issues Handled Under NARUC
NARUC works on numerous issues through the utility regulatory commission. While many issues have been a focus of the organization over the past 120 years, relevant issues over the last decade are:
EPA Clean Power Plan
NARUC focused heavily on the EPA’s clean power plan and also rate design in 2016. Rate design was a key issue, with focus on how to charge customers and pay them when the customer has rooftop solar devices installed.
Solar power is often generated in excess, leading to the power being sold back to the electric company through “net metering.”
Additional topics that have been tackled in recent years are:
- Smart tech and the grid
Smart technology is changing the electric grid with systems that can share information between each other for smarter, connected technology. The technology is able to share information between each other, allowing for customers to interpret and share data in a way that wasn’t possible a decade or two ago.
Programs Available Under NARUC
NARUC operates numerous domestic and international programs that aim to educate, inform and provide resources to communities on a regular basis. Multiple programs exist, including:
- Policy & Advocacy, which are present throughout the telecommunication and energy landscapes. These programs are available to consumers to ensure that they’re able to receive a fair and just price on utilities.
- Center for Partnership & Innovation helps state commissions serve the interest of the public. The Center offers research and results to numerous sectors and is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Commerce among other agencies. Training, papers, games, webcasts and other projects are covered under this partnership.
- International Programs are funded primarily from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Information exchanges between NARUC allow for two-way learning and research.
There are Federal Government Collaboratives that work together to form the energy and telecom regulatory landscape. The collaboratives promote reasonable prices and the highest quality services.