Utah Ratepayers Association
Education and Lobbying for Ratepayers of Utility-type Services with Limited or No Alternatives
House Bill 269 - Salt Lake Tribune report and
Bill text released 16 January 2007
Bill would add rural voice to committee
By Steven Oberbeck - The Salt Lake Tribune – Friday, 19 January 2007
HB269Would add new member to consumer group
Next step: Goes to House Rules for a committee assignment.
The state watchdog group that fights to keep utility rates low for consumers soon may get an additional mission.
Rep. Gordon Snow, R-Roosevelt, proposes to add a seventh member to the Committee of Consumer Services - one from the Governor's Rural Part- nership Board who would encourage more focus on rural economic development.
"I like the idea of having a new voice on the committee to help provide an additional perspective on the needs of rural communities," Snow said.
Tuesday's bill filing came one week after the CCS declined to support Questar Gas' proposal that all of its customers pay $1.7 million more a year - or $2.28 per household - to help about two dozen rural communities pay off their debt for extending natural gas service to them.
Many Utahns living in rural areas have been paying up to $30 a month extra for the past 12 years to pay off that debt. Rural officials say high utility bills cost their communities jobs.
The CCS last week, however, said it lacked data to determine whether those extra charges were fair.
Longtime utility watchdog Clair Geddes argues passage of the bill would signal that legislators approve Utahns paying higher utility rates for the benefit of rural residents. "This appears to be another attempt to make the committee a political tool," she said.
CCS Chairman Dee Jay Hammon isn't opposed to having a new member.
But he said having someone specifically looking out for rural economic development may run afoul of state laws requiring a focus on residential utility customers.
"Adding a new member who has a completely different agenda may be a real problem," he said.
House Bill 269 - Committee of Consumer Services Membership Amendments
Chief Sponsor: Gordon E Snow
To read the Bill, click on H.B. 269 Bill Documents - 2007 General Session
Last Modified: 3 June 2007