NASUCA is an association of 44 consumer advocates in 40 states and the District of Columbia. NASUCA’s members are designated by the laws of their respective jurisdictions to represent the interests of utility consumers before state and federal regulators and in the courts.
The History of NASUCA
In May 1979, 16 state consumer advocate office representatives met in Columbus, Ohio to establish the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA). The founders established NASUCA for agencies designated by state law to act as independent ratepayer advocates. The purpose was to provide a forum to exchange ideas, improve consumer representation at the state and federal levels, and encourage greater consumer participation in the regulatory process.
The history of state utility consumer advocacy began in the 1970’s, when state agencies were created by state legislatures after natural gas and electric prices were driven up by the energy crises of the 1970’s. Since the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the role of the state advocates was to challenge proposed rate increases by the electric, natural gas, telephone and water monopolies. This role was carried out largely by intervening in formal, economic regulatory cases before public utility commissions. In the 1990’s and into the 21 st century, the state advocates have been at the forefront of protecting consumers during the ongoing transition from monopolies to less regulated markets in which utilities and other firms increasingly compete with one another. Today, as the trend for competition and industry deregulation continues, state consumer advocates shift their focus to consumer protection issues, such as service quality, reliability, and price stability.
The organization membership has grown to over 44 member offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. In twelve states, state attorneys general provide utility consumer advocate representation. In 29 other states, governors appoint consumer advocate office directors. The names of these offices include: People’s Counsel, Public Counsel, Consumer Advocate, and Consumer Counsel. The associate and affiliate members include non-profit state utility advocate offices that represent residential consumers before the state commissions, but are not designated by the state law. There are also NASUCA member offices in Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The diverse representation of NASUCA is best exemplified by the list of its 21 national presidents:
- Elin Swansan Katz, Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, 2017- Present
- Robert Nelson, Montana Consumer Counsel, 2014-2017
- Lewis R. Mills, Jr., Missouri Public Counsel, 2013-2014
- Paula Carmody, Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel, 2011 – 2013
- Mary Healey, Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, 2009-2011
- David Springe, Kansas Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, 2007-2009
- John Perkins, Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate, 2004-2007
- Timothy Hay, Nevada Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection 2003-2004
- Rob Tongren, Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, 2002 -2003
- Stephen Ward, Maine Office of the Public Advocate, 2000-2002
- Fred Schmidt, Nevada Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection, 1998-2000
- Irwin “Sonny” Popowsky, Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate, 1996-1998
- Edward Petrini, Virginia Attorney General Insurance and Utilities Regulatory Section 1994-1996
- Martha Hogerty, Missouri Office of Public Counsel, 1992-1994
- Ronald Binz, Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel, 1991-1992
- Donna Sorgi, Massachusetts Department of Attorney General Utilities Division, 1989-1991
- David Barasch, Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate, 1987-1989
- Felshaw King, Utah Department of Commerce Committee of Consumer Services, 1985-1987
- Steven Hamm, South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, 1983-1985
- Jack Shreve, Florida Office of Public Counsel, 1981-1983
- William Spratley, Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, 1979-1981.
*This information is based on a section of the “Encyclopedia of the Consumer Movement,” written by William Spratley, 1997.