The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) is the statewide legal representative for Ohio’s residential consumers in matters related to their utility services. Led by Consumers’ Counsel Bruce J. Weston, the OCC advocates for residential consumers in administrative proceedings before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), state and federal courts, federal regulatory agencies, and the Ohio General Assembly. The agency also monitors utility companies’ compliance with regulatory standards and educates consumers about utility issues and the services provided by their investor-owned electric, natural gas, telephone and water companies.
The Consumers’ Counsel is selected by a nine-member, bipartisan governing board representing family farmers, organized labor and residential consumers. Each governing board member is appointed by the Ohio Attorney General. The OCC has approximately 35 employees and an operating budget of $5.6 million.
Since the agency’s inception in 1976, the OCC has saved Ohio utility customers billions of dollars in avoided utility rates, helped to create payment assistance programs for low-income customers and worked to safeguard consumer protections. The OCC staff has educated thousands of utility customers about choices available to them in a changing industry and ways to save money on their utility bills during difficult economic times.
The OCC is a founding member of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates and also participates on several state and national councils and committees.
The OCC’s organizational structure is as follows:
The Analytical Services Department protects residential consumers’ interests by conducting technical analysis of utility operations in rate filings and other regulatory proceedings. This work includes accounting, economic and financial analysis. The Department also monitors utility company compliance with state statutes, regulations, codes and company policies.
The Legal Department represents Ohio’s residential consumers in administrative proceedings before the PUCO and federal regulatory agencies and in state and federal courts. The legal staff’s advocacy includes both negotiating for settlements and litigating in hearings, to obtain outcomes that are favorable for utility consumers.
The Operations Department is responsible for all fiscal and administrative functions of the office including human resources, information management services, budgeting, purchasing, strategic planning, docketing services and contract management.
The Public Affairs Department serves Ohio’s residential utility consumers through outreach and education, media relations and the legislative process. Educational information is provided to consumers on OCC’s website, in OCC’s newsletter (Consumers’ Corner), and in other ways such as informational fact sheets. In addition, the OCC’s outreach and education staff provide presentations to educate the public on important utility issues. The Department issues press releases, consumer alerts and other media advisories to inform the public of issues impacting residential utility consumers. The Department also participates in the legislative process through the OCC’s testimony on proposed bills and by providing information to legislators on issues affecting Ohio consumers.
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