By Dan Shea
When it comes to state energy policy, two groups play significant roles. While state legislators create the policies, establish requirements and set goals, it’s up to public utility commissions to implement those policies on the ground—to take the law and establish regulations to achieve those policy objectives.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work in concept.
The reality is that a lack of dialogue between the two state bodies can lead to ineffective policymaking and frustration on both sides.
To promote dialogue between these two entities, NCSL has released a new guide, Engagement Between Public Utility Commissions and State Legislatures, which highlights examples of successful engagement. To produce the guide, NCSL partnered with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
The guide suggests that a strong and collaborative relationship between state legislatures and commissions is instrumental to establishing coherent, comprehensive and cost-effective energy policies at the state level, and contains condensed excerpts from interviews with legislators and commissioners from three states: Minnesota, Vermont and Washington.
“It’s clear that regular and effective communication between state legislators and public utility commissioners is important to advancing cohesive state energy policies,” said Kristy Hartman, energy program director at NCSL. “This mini-guide offers valuable insights into how officials in several states have worked to develop informed and thoughtful energy policies—not in isolation, but through collaborative relationships that reflect the strengths of each state entity.”
Senator Eric Koch (R-Ind.) said, “Even after serving as a legislator for more than 15 years, I found several helpful takeaways in the new NCEP mini-guide on Engagement Between Public Utility Commissioners and State Legislators, which tells me it will be a valuable resource for many.”
Dan Shea is a senior policy specialist in NCSL’s Energy Program.