The Office of the Consumer Advocate
Working on behalf of NH's utility ratepayers
21 S. Fruit St, Suite 18
Tel: (603) 271-1172
For Consumer Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) is an independent state agency with statutory responsibility to represent residential customers of New Hampshire’s regulated public utilities that provide electric, natural gas, telephone or water services. The OCA primarily fulfills this responsibility by participating in proceedings before the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Guided by New Hampshire law, the OCA advocates for reasonably-priced, safe and reliable utility services, as well as for well-designed and prudently-administered ratepayer funded programs.
Within the context of PUC proceedings, the OCA represents the collective interests of residential customers rather than individual customer interests. On account of our agency’s name, the OCA occasionally receives individual customer complaints and inquiries, and it typically refers these to PUC’s Consumer Affairs Division, which is staffed with industry-specific analysts tasked with mediating customer-utility disputes. With a focus on the collective good of residential customers, the OCA directs its limited resources on proceedings that may have significant financial or service-related impacts.
The OCA staff consists of the Consumer Advocate (Susan Chamberlin), Attorney III (vacant), Finance Director (James Brennan), Rate and Market Policy Director (Dr. Pradip Chattopadhyay), Legal Assistant (Christina Martin) and a part time Clerk IV (Jamie Breen). In addition, as its budget allows, the OCA contracts with experts in the field of utility regulation to advance residential ratepayers’ interests in specialized issues including return on equity and cost of service.
The Residential Ratepayers Advisory Board (Board), consisting of members appointed by the Governor and certain legislative leaders, is charged by statute, RSA 363:28-a, to provide guidance to the OCA. The Board meets at least quarterly with the Consumer Advocate and other OCA staff, typically to receive updates on the agency’s advocacy work and to discuss significant policy issues. Additional information about the Board can be found on the OCA’s Board webpage, http://www.oca.nh.gov/advisoryboard.htm.
The OCA is a member of the National Association of State Utilities Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), an association of 44 consumer advocates in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Members of the OCA staff serve on various NASUCA committees including those focused on specific utility industries such as water, electric and natural gas. Working with our counterparts in other states, many of which have greater staffing and financial resources, efficiently and economically enhances the OCA’s advocacy for NH residential ratepayers.
For more information about the OCA and its advocacy efforts, a copy of our most recent Biennial Report is available here. We welcome your questions and input on any of the activity described in that report or elsewhere on our website.
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