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JEFFERSON CITY—New ethics reform rules, among the toughest and most restrictive for utility regulators in the country, will take effect tomorrow (July 30) for the Missouri Public Service Commission.
“These rules are crucial in order to ensure the public trust,” said PSC Chairman Robert M. Clayton III. “It is essential that our deliberations and decisions are done in accordance with the highest ethical standards.”
Highlights of the new rules include:
No private conversations on rate cases between regulators and parties.
No communications between regulators and utilities about any substantive issue that may come before the Commission in the future.
Most communications will require public disclosure.
“The restrictions on one-sided communications should give confidence to the public that the days of ‘closed door’ meetings with utilities are over,” said Clayton. “The Public Service Commission will operate in a more transparent manner, at arms length, from the utility companies we regulate.”
The rules will require disclosure of communication, even on matters that are anticipated to be filed. The ratepayers’ attorney, the Office of the Public Counsel is required to be invited to such meetings, if a case is anticipated or pending, to ensure transparency. Commissioners will also be required to maintain a public calendar, available on the PSC website highlighting those meetings for public awareness.
To ensure the Commission is complying with not only the letter but also the spirit of the new rules, Chairman Clayton has appointed Steven Reed, the Commission’s General Counsel and Secretary, to serve as the Commission’s Ethics Officer.
Utilities and parties to cases before the Public Service Commission are subject to the new ethics and standard of conduct rules.