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Program B: Support Services

Program Authorization: La. Constitution, Article IV, Sec. 21; R.S. 45:1161; R.S. 45:1177(A), (B), and (D); R.S. 45:1177.1; R.S. 45:1180 and 1181

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The mission and goals for the Support Services Program are expressed by activity (organizational division).

The Support Services Program includes the following activities (organizational divisions): Administrative Hearings; Auditing, Economics and Rate Analysis; and Utilities,

The mission of the Administrative Hearings Division is to manage the process of adjudicatory proceedings, to conduct evidentiary hearings, and to make rulings and recommendations to the commissioners concerning such proceedings and hearings, in a manner that is just, impartial, professional, orderly, and efficient, and which generates the highest degree of public confidence in the commission's integrity and fairness. The goals of the Administrative Hearings Division are: ensure that all parties to adjudicatory hearings are provided a fair and impartial hearing; maintain a current and thorough knowledge of substantive law, regulations, and policy pertinent to commission proceedings; be consistent with regard to application and enforcement of commission procedures and regulations; prepare rulings and recommendations which reflect a careful and accurate application of laws to facts; and manage the progress of adjudicatory proceedings in an efficient manner. The Administrative Hearings Division consists of three administrative law judges and one attorney law clerk. The division was created to assist the commission in making an examination of the rates charges and services provided to Louisiana consumers by public utilities and common carriers.

The mission of the Auditing Division is to ensure that the rates for services passed on the citizens of Louisiana by regulated utility and common carrier companies are based on reasonable, recoverable operating costs, and prudent investments incurred by jurisdictional companies in providing the service to their customers. The goals of the Audit Division are to ensure that jurisdictional companies rates are fair and reasonable to the consumer and provides a fair rate of return to the company. The Auditing Division provides accounting and auditing assistance to the Public Service Commission by analyzing records of utilities to determine the rate of return earned by a particular utility and its return on equity. The division functions in a regulatory capacity by assuring that all utilities maintain their records in accordance with the Uniform System of Accounts for Utilities and that expenditures are in accord with sound management procedures. The primary responsibility is to provide the commission with accurate and current information with respect to the financial condition and the results of operations of the most recently completed accounting period used by companies that are subject to the jurisdiction of the commission. Special emphasis is given by division staff to analysis of the financial condition of companies that have filed rate increase applications, with a view towards providing the commission with financial data to assist them in carrying out their decision-making responsibilities.

The mission of the Economics and Rate Analysis Divisions to provide unbiased recommendations, economic and statistical analysis of the activities pertaining to the performance, conduct and the business of the utilities, in Louisiana, in accordance with the goals, objectives, and responsibilities of the commission. The goal of the Economics and Rate Analysis Division is to work towards establishing fair and affordable rates paid by all classes of rate payers (residential, commercial, industrial) in Louisiana, for services received from the Utility. This division continues to engage in studies, meetings, seminars, and analysis of the Federal Energy Policy Act and its impact on the commission. Management audits of various utility regulated companies will be an ongoing assignment for this division. Technological changes occurring in the utility industry will continue to impact this division. As a result, staff will be involved in the many changes and will continue to participate in activities geared for future changes.

The mission of the Utilities Division is to provide technical support and assistance to the Louisiana Public Service Commission regarding the regulation of utility companies and common carriers operating in the State of Louisiana. The goals of the Utilities Division are: review applications filed by utility companies and common carriers; evaluate utility company and common carrier filings to determine compliance with existing regulations and consumer impact; investigate utility company and common carriers with respect to violations of federal, state, local, and commission regulations; collect, compile, analyze, report, publish, and distribute statistical information relating to utility and carrier operating in the state; and enforce commission regulations applicable to utility and common carrier operations. The Utilities Division is charged with the review, analysis, and investigation of rates and charges filed before the Louisiana Public Service Commission by electric, gas, water, sewer, and telecommunications providers with respect to prudence and adequacy of those rates in order to provide reliable and affordable service to Louisiana customers while allowing the regulated utility to maintain a reasonable and fair rate of return.

OBJECTIVES AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

1. In FY 1998-99, the Support Services Program, through the Administrative Hearings Division, will endeavor to provide the PSC with final recommendations that are legally sound (as measured by the percentage of PSC orders on appeal that are/are not overturned by a court of compotent jurisdiction).

2. In FY 1998-99, the Support Services Program, through the Administrative Hearings Division, will endeavor to achieve and maintain legal and regulatory competency by ensuring that each member of the Administrative Hearings Division annually attends at least one utilities regulation and one legal education seminar in order to maintain a high competency level.

3. In FY 1998-99, the Support Services Program, through the Auditing, Economics and Rate Analysis, and Utilities Divisions, will expand audit review coverage of jurisdictional companies on an ongoing basis by 15%.

1 Surveillance report is a report filed by each independent telephone company to report its level of earnings after reducing its switched access rates to determine if the company's rate reduction has reduced the level of earnings below the pre-established range set by he PSC that will allow the company to draw a subsidy from the Local Exchange Carrier Fund to offset the loss of earnings.

2 Regulated utilities include electric, gas, water, sewer, and telecommunications companies. Information on the number of regulated utilities, by type, is available from the Public Service Commission.

3 Certificate of Authority is a document containing a certified statement that the utility or carrier has fulfilled the requirements necessary to operate in the State of Louisiana as specified in the regulations set forth by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

4. In FY 1998-99, the Support Services Program, through the Auditing, Economics and Rate Analysis, and Utilities Divisions, will complete all reviews within established time frames and/or within the one-year limitation for PSC's action.

1 New indicator for which some values are not available

5. In FY 1998-99, the Support Services Program, through the Auditing, Economics and Rate Analysis, and Utilities Divisions, will attain PSC approval on 100% of review recommendations included in staff reports submitted to the PSC.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR THE PROGRAM

SOURCE OF FUNDING

This program is funded from statutory dedications generated from inspection and supervision fees paid by public utilities. Additionally, various fees such as fines, filing fees, I.D. stamps, rehearing applications, registration fees, etc. are collected by the Public Service Commission for administering this program. (Per R.S. 39:32B.(8), see table below for a listing of expenditures out of each statutory dedicated fund.)

ANALYSIS OF RECOMMENDATION

GENERAL FUND

TOTAL

T.O.

 

DESCRIPTION

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$581,016

15

 

ACT 18 FISCAL YEAR 1997-1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BA-7 TRANSACTIONS:

$0

$662,888

11

 

Realign budget to properly place positions and funding in the appropriate program

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$1,243,904

26

 

EXISTING OPERATING BUDGET - December 10, 1997

 

 

 

 

 

$0

($46,350)

0

 

Equipment/Major Repairs Adjustment(s)

$0

$25,241

0

 

Annualization of 1997 -'98 Merit Pay Adjustment(s)

$0

$17,618

0

 

1998 -'99 Merit Pay Adjustment(s)

$0

($40,420)

0

 

Attrition Adjustment(s)

$0

($5,104)

 

 

Retirement Rate Adjustment(s)

$0

($2,414)

0

 

Reductions in various Expenditure Categories; Including Reductions to fully fund Salaries

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$1,192,475

26

 

TOTAL RECOMMENDED

 

 

 

 

 

$0

($51,429)

0

 

DIFFERENCE (TOTAL RECOMMENDED AND EXISTING OPERATING BUDGET)

The total means of financing for this program is recommended at 95.8% of the existing operating budget. It represents 84.3% of the total request ($1,414,269) for this program. The decrease is primarily due to the removal of funding for nonrecurring acquisitions

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

This program does not have funding for Professional Services for Fiscal Year 1998-1999.

OTHER CHARGES

This program does not have funding for Other Charges for Fiscal Year 1998-1999.

ACQUISITIONS AND MAJOR REPAIRS

$18,900

 

Replacement computer equipment

 

 

 

$18,900

 

TOTAL ACQUISITIONS AND MAJOR REPAIRS


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