Survey of Washington Law: Consumer Law: Consumer Representation At PURPA Hearings

THE APPOINTMENT OF A SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL TO REPRESENT CONSUMERS BEFORE THE WASHINGTON UTILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION SATISFIES THE “ALTERNATE MEANS” REQUIREMENT OF 16 U.S.C. § 2632(B), CONSUMER REPRESENTATION UNDER THE PUBLIC UTILITIES REGULATORY POLICY ACT OF 1978. Power v. The Washington Water Power Company, 99 Wn. 2d 289, 662 P.2d 374 (1983).

In Power v. The Washington Water Power Company, (“Power I“) the Washington Supreme Court held that the appointment of a special assistant attorney general (SAAG) to represent the public’s interests satisfies the alternate means of consumer representation. Under 16 U.S.C. § 2632, if an alternate means is provided, the utility will no longer be required to pay attorney fees, expert witness fees, and other reasonable expenses of a successful consumer advocate. In Power II, the court adhered to its decision in Power I and affirmed the judgment with some modifications. The court held that pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 2632(a)(1) an electric consumer who substantially contributes to a position successfully adopted by the commission is entitled to compensation for attorney fees, expert witness fees and other reasonable expenses. In Power I, SAAG and People’s Organization for Washington Energy Resources (POWER) were advocating congruous positions. The court deemed POWER’s effects meritorious and helpful but said they did not rise to the level of substantial contribution. Thus in Power I, POWER was denied compensation.

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Deborah Teeters Henthorn, Survey of Washington Law: Consumer Law: Consumer Representation At PURPA Hearings, 20 Gonz. L. Rev. 567 (1985).

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