NC Sustainable Energy Association

State Regulatory Agencies

The North Carolina Utilities Commission ("NCUC")

The North Carolina Utilities Commission ("NCUC" or "the Commission") is an administrative agency of the North Carolina General Assembly. The NCUC regulates electric, telephone, natural gas, water, wastewater, water resale, household goods transportation, busses, brokers, and ferryboats operating within the state. The Commission is also responsible for approving the rates charged to consumers by public utilities and for reporting on the progress of North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard ("REPS"). To a limited degree, the Commission regulates electric membership corporations, small power producers, and electric merchant plants.

The NCUC consists of seven members serving staggered eight-year terms. These commissioners are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. Because the Commission is a quasi-judicial body, most of the commissioners have extensive legal rather than technical backgrounds.

The Commission is given a great deal of interpretive authority regarding energy policy. This is particularly true at the state level because the North Carolina General Assembly typically does not pass highly prescriptive legislation. Therefore, actually carrying out the intent of energy legislation falls to the Commission and its rulings. This is the venue in North Carolina where the rubber meets the road for energy policy regulation.

For these reasons, NCSEA is actively engaged at the Commission. Click here to see a summary of NCSEA's recent work with NCUC.

The Commission Staff

The NCUC is supported by the Commission Staff. This staff works in four areas: the Chief Clerk's Office, the Administrative Division, the Operations Division and the Fiscal Management Division. NCSEA primarily deals with staff in the Legal Section of the Administrative Division, and the Operations Division.

The Legal Section within the Administrative Division advises the Commission with regard to legal issues which routinely come before the Commission; prepares Commission Orders in response to a diversity of applications, requests, motions, and other legal pleadings filed with the Commission; manages and oversees the preparation of the Commission's calendar of hearings and other docketed matters; and represents the Commission before other judicial bodies and other federal and state governmental agencies.

The staff members of the Operations Division are the Commission's subject matter experts on the various industries that the NCUC regulates. The Operations Division is responsible for providing the Commission with expert counsel, assistance, and support in the areas of regulatory, financial, and cost accounting; finance; economics; engineering; statistics; and operations analysis.

The Public Staff

Established in 1977, the Public Staff is an independent agency created to review, investigate, and make appropriate recommendations to the NCUC with respect to the reasonableness of rates charged and the adequacy of service provided by any public utility, and with respect to the consistency with the public policy of assuring an energy supply adequate to protect the public health and safety. The Public Staff intervenes on behalf of the using and consuming public in all of the NCUC's proceedings affecting rates or service, including the REPS cost recovery riders, avoided cost rates, and utility-sponsored renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

The Public Staff is organized into nine divisions: five exclusively concerned with specific utility industries regulated by the NCUC (Communications, Electric, Natural Gas, Water and Sewer, and Transportation) and four concerned with all utilities in conjunction with the other divisions (Accounting, Consumer Services, Economic Research, and Legal). All divisions are supervised and directed by the Public Staff's Executive Director, who sets policy and guidelines, ensuring the Staff presents a unified position in the best interest of consumers on all issues before the Commission.

NCSEA has developed a positive working relationship with the Public Staff and often maintains similar policy positions to the Public Staff. Many of NCSEA's members have derived a great deal of benefit from meeting with the Public Staff on issues affecting their renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

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