The Department of Public Service consists of the following divisions:
- Planning and Energy Resources
- Telecommunications and Connectivity
- Finance & Economics
- Public Advocacy
- Consumer Affairs and Public Information
Below is a description of the roles and responsibilities of each division.
Planning & Energy Resources Division
The Planning and Energy Resources Division (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.
For information on subjects related to PERD's scope, please see the following sections:
Public Advocacy Division
The Public Advocacy (PA) Division represents the public interest in litigation and other proceedings before the Public Utility Commission (Commission), covering all areas of the Commission'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 Utility Commission regarding those filings. In addition to its work before the Commission, 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.
For information on subjects related to the Public Advocacy Division's scope, please see the following sections:
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. Engineering 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 Department of Public Service'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.
For information on subjects related to the Engineering Division's scope, please see the following sections:
Telecommunications and Connectivity Division
The Telecommunications and Connectivity Division works to ensure that every Vermonter has access to quality, reliable, and affordable communications services. The division facilitates the state’s efforts to expand broadband by awarding grants through the Connectivity Initiative, and by leasing state-owned open-access fiber optic cable. The division also exercises regulatory authority over intrastate landline telephone service, rates, and quality of service; cable television service; and cell tower siting. As a regulator, the Telecommunications and Connectivity Division provides oversight of companies’ compliance with Vermont laws and Public Utility Commission orders and rules governing their operations.
Finance & Economics Division
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 private 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 financial regulatory reporting information requirements. The Finance and Economics Division is also responsible for the general business administration functions of the Department of Public Service.
For information on subjects related to the Finance and Economic Division's scope, please see the following sections:
Consumer Affairs & Public Information Division
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 Utility Commission (Commission) 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 Commission 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 CAPI Division's scope, please see the following section:
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