ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES OPINION
ABOUT DEEP’S REQUEST TO SUSPEND SMART-METER DOCKET
(HARTFORD) – Attorney General George Jepsen has concluded that the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection complied with state law in requesting state utility regulators to temporarily suspend their proceedings on the issue of smart meters.
The Attorney General issued the formal opinion at the request of Consumer Counsel Mary Healey who raised three questions about DEEP’s action and the relationship between the agency and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which was folded into the DEEP as part of a government reorganization approved by the General Assembly.
“We conclude that DEEP’s actions in this proceeding were entirely consistent with Public Act 11-80 and the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act,” the Attorney General wrote in the five-page opinion, which has been posted on his website.
Public Act 11-80 authorized the Commissioner of DEEP to set energy policy prospectively through two energy planning proceedings: the Comprehensive Energy Plan and the Integrated Resources Plan. The legislature further provided that the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority would be guided by the goals of DEEP and by the goals of those plans.
According to the opinion, however, DEEP’s status before PURA is “no different from any other interested participant in contested PURA proceedings. DEEP has no statutory authority to exert direct oversight over PURA decision-making in contested proceedings.”
The DEEP Commissioner’s request to suspend the smart-meter proceedings was “made in an open and public manner with notice to all parties involved … consistent with the UAPA and PURA’s established practices and procedures, [and] was not binding on PURA,” he wrote.
“PURA’s independent and voluntary decision to do so was entirely in keeping with the new legislative requirements. Suspension would allow DEEP the opportunity to set smart-meter policy on a state-wide basis and guide PURA’s decisions in the CL&P case and other subsequent proceedings,” the Attorney General wrote.
The Attorney General said his Office filed a letter in support of DEEP’s request “because of the state legislative intent that DEEP set smart-meter policy for the state and quite simply because it made good sense to do so.” The Commissioner’s Sept. 1 request, Jepsen said, “was in my view legally appropriate, and I so advised DEEP before it sent the letter.”
View the Formal Opinion - Consumer Counsel Healey, Formal Opinion 2011-007,State of Connecticut Attorney General