On This Page:
Planning & Energy Resources ♦ Public Advocacy ♦ Engineering ♦ Telecom ♦ Finance/Economics ♦ Consumer Affairs ♦ Contact Us
This page contains information about the structure of the Public Service Department which consists of the following divisions: Planning and Energy Resources; Engineering; Telecommunications; Finance & Economics; Public Advocacy; and Consumer Affairs and Public Information; and the roles and responsibilities of each division.
The Planning and Energy Resources Divsion (PERD) develops programs, policies, and plans that promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and least cost energy planning in Vermont. PERD initiates, coordinates, implements, monitors, and evaluates a wide variety of programs and initiatives directed at evaluating and promoting state energy policies. The division develops and revises the state's energy plans, analyzes utility proposals for the purchase of energy resources and the building of facilities and transmission lines, reviews proposed utility integrated resource plans, and supports litigation with technical support and expert witness testimony. In addition, PERD serves as the Vermont State Energy Office under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) State Energy Program and hosts the Clean Energy Development Fund.
The Public Advocacy (PA) Division represents the public interest in litigation and other proceedings before the Public Service Board (Board), covering all areas of the Board's jurisdiction. Increasingly, the PA Division participates in complex investigations involving deregulation, expanded competition, alternative regulatory plans, electric facility siting, and power purchase contracts. PA is also responsible for review of proposed utility tariff changes and special contracts, and makes recommendations to the Public Service Board regarding those filings. In addition to its work before the Board, the PA Division represents the public interest in a wide variety of cases before the Vermont Supreme Court, federal district and appellate courts, and occasionally in Vermont Superior Court. PA also represents the public interest in matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). These administrative agencies have exclusive authority over crucial utility matters such as interstate telephone, interstate transmission of gas and electricity, nuclear power plant licensing, and wholesale power sales. Representing the public interest of Vermont before these agencies has required the PA to appear in federal circuit courts in Boston, New York, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. Cases before these courts and agencies are only a small fraction of the Division's total case load, but they carry major significance.
The Engineering Division is comprised of engineers specializing in the areas of electricity, nuclear power, natural gas and pipeline safety. The Division is responsible for reviewing facility investment plans by companies in these fields and provides the Public Advocacy Division with technical analysis and expert testimony. Division staff perform inspections at certain facility sites in the state, including Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, liquefied petroleum gas (LP gas) sites, and natural gas pipelines. The Division also staffs the State Emergency Operations Center during emergencies affecting energy supplies. Additionally, the Division serves as the Public Service Department's (PSD) interface with regional reliability organizations such as the Northeast Power Coordinating Council and the New England Independent System Operator, and monitors and participates in electric market restructuring activities on behalf of the PSD.
The Telecommunciations Division assists the Public Service Board (Board) in developing and implementing policies and procedures to remove barriers to competition in all telecommunications markets; addressing regulatory changes required by state and federal legislation; and resolving disputes between carriers over competitive issues, such as the extent of one carrier's obligations to lease elements of their network to a competing carrier. Other projects include evaluating and advocating for improved reliability and diversity of carriers' networks; crafting alternative regulation plans for specific companies; and working with the Board and carriers to design a non-dominant carriers' regulatory framework in which tariff filings and Board review of various corporate financing and restructuring transactions would be streamlined or waived for companies that operate in fully competitive markets. The Telecom Division is also responsible for cable provider regulation, and it prepares and presents the Public Service Department's recommendations concerning the terms on which cable franchises should be renewed or transferred to other companies. Among other tasks, the Telecom Division monitors cable operators' compliance with various franchise requirements, such as extension of cable service to unserved areas and adequate support for public access television. The Telecom Division also works with cable operators to interpret franchise requirements and to revise or streamline reporting processes.
The Finance and Economics Division advocates on behalf of the public in utility finance and economic matters before state and federal regulatory agencies. The Division analyzes and evaluates the economic and financial impact of petitions to ensure they will serve the general good of the State. Utility companies that are lightly regulated and operating in competitive markets are monitored consistent with non-regulated markets. Vermont currently has seventeen electric distribution companies, one electric transmission company, ten incumbent telephone companies, one natural gas company and many small water companies that receive routine cost and financial performance review. Additionally the Division is responsible for matters related to alternative regulation plans, rate designs, administering wholesale power purchases, and establishing the financial regulatory reporting information requirements. The Finance and Economics Division is also responsible for the general business administration functions of the Public Service Department.
The Consumer Affairs & Public Information (CAPI) Division assists consumers in reaching informal resolution of complaints against regulated utilities; advocates for policies that protect consumer interests; and educates consumers about utility issues so they can more effectively advocate for themselves. CAPI handles several thousand public inquiries and complaints each year regarding utility practices either specific to the consumer's situation or in general. When a consumer has been unable to resolve her/his complaint directly with the utility, CAPI investigates with the utility and seeks informal resolution of the matter. Additionally, CAPI also provides expert testimony in cases before the Vermont Public Service Board (Board) that pertain to regulated-utility customer service or consumer protection issues. CAPI has been instrumental in the establishment of measurable and enforceable service quality standards for most of the state's energy, telecommunications and cable companies. CAPI is active at the regional and national levels on utility-related consumer protection issues that affect consumers across the country. CAPI also provides trainings to utilities and consumer advocate groups regarding Board rules to reduce the incidence of consumer complaints by improving utility practices. These trainings also help to improve relationships with the utilities so that CAPI advocates can better work with utilities on behalf of consumers.
For information on subjects related to the Division's scope, please see the following section: Information for Consumers.
For our staff directory and other contact related information, please visit our Contact Us page.