GENERAL STAFF
Office of the Executive Director

The Executive Director is responsible for the overall direction and management of the General Staff of the Utilities Division, establishing Agency goals, objectives, policies, and procedures. The responsibilities of the General Staff are accomplished through the development of subject matter expertise in each of the eight Sections described below.

Section heads serve as project managers on assigned dockets before the Commission and on other projects as needed. The Executive Director collaborates with Section managers and the cross‐sectional, multi‐disciplinary teams they lead in the thorough development and analysis of utility regulatory issues and the preparation and execution of case strategy as reflected in the General Staff’s response to actions sought by utilities and other non-utility applicants.

The Executive Director also prepares information in response to requests from the Arkansas General Assembly as well as other state agencies, and responds to requests for information from the media, government officials, utilities, and members of the public. The Executive Director and the Commissioners are actively involved in outreach efforts to inform utility customers and community leaders regarding utility matters and their effect on customers.

Electric Utilities Section

The Electric Utilities Section contributes industry-specific subject matter expertise on a wide range of issues as required to investigate, analyze, and make recommendations to the Commission in response to electric utility formal requests for Commission action. Section experts present recommendations to the Commission through pre-filed testimony and oral testimony subject to cross-examination during public evidentiary hearings.

Section members also conduct compliance audits of utilities with approved adjustment clauses, perform special project analyses, conduct general and special issue audits and investigations, and provide technical evaluations and responses to address inquiries from the public.

Natural Gas and Water Utilities and Pipeline Safety

The Natural Gas and Water Utilities Section contributes industry-specific subject matter expertise on a wide range of issues as required to investigate, analyze, and make recommendations to the Commission in response to natural gas, water, and sewer utility formal requests for Commission action. Section experts present recommendations to the Commission through pre-filed testimony and oral testimony subject to cross-examination during public evidentiary hearings.

Section members also conduct compliance audits of utilities with approved adjustment clauses, perform special project analyses, conduct general and special issue audits and investigations, and provide technical evaluations and responses to address inquiries from the public.

This Section also includes the Pipeline Safety Office, which is responsible for ensuring natural gas operators are in compliance with the Arkansas Gas Pipeline Code and the Federal Pipeline Safety Code. Compliance is assessed through periodic inspection of safety, corrosion, and leak control with reporting of corrective actions needed. The Office also works cooperatively with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to ensure the safe operation of natural gas facilities in the state. Section members may be required to present findings and recommendations to the Commission through pre‐filed expert testimony and oral testimony subject to cross‐examination during public hearings.



Telecommunications Utilities and Quality of Service

The Telecommunications Utilities and Quality of Service Section is responsible for three distinct areas: 1) certification of telecommunications providers, 2) certification of transportation network companies, and 3) engineering review of electric utility issues.

As to telecommunications, the Commission does not rate regulate Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers and Interexchange Carriers must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Commission to provide service in Arkansas and most telecommunications providers must comply with the Commission’s Telecommunications Provider Rules. The Commission is also responsible for the oversight of the Arkansas High Cost Fund, the Extension of Telecommunication Facilities Fund, and the Arkansas Intrastate Carrier Common Line Pool.

Transportation network companies require certification by the Commission to operate in the state, and the Staff verifies ongoing compliance with the requirements to operate. As to electric engineering issues, Section engineering staff conduct analysis under Arkansas statutory requirements and Commission rules of electric utility requests for either a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity or a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need to construct certain facilities; utility petitions to construct navigable water crossings; and customer applications to interconnect net-metering facilities to operate in parallel with the electric utility. Section engineering staff also conduct ongoing evaluations of the quality of service provided by electric utilities in Arkansas. That evaluation measures electric utility performance against the Commission’s General Service Rules and Special Rules ‐ Electric and identifies and communicates to the utility opportunities for improvement. An additional area in which Section engineering staff provide analysis is in electric utility tariffs regarding application of tariffs and requests by a utility to modify certain policy tariffs.

Section experts present recommendations to the Commission through pre‐filed testimony and oral testimony subject to cross‐examination during public evidentiary hearings.



Financial Analysis

The Financial Analysis Section contributes subject matter expertise primarily in the areas of cost of capital and capital recovery as required to investigate, analyze and make recommendations in response to electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utility rate requests. Section experts make recommendations to the Commission through pre-filed testimony and oral testimony subject to cross-examination during public evidentiary hearings.

Section members also investigate, analyze, and make recommendations in response to electric utility nuclear decommissioning cost estimates and rate recovery requests, conduct focused investigations of proposed financings, and perform various other financial and economic analyses as needed.



Cost Allocation and Rate Design

The Cost Allocation and Rate Design Section contributes subject matter expertise primarily in the areas of cost allocation, rate design and billing determinants as required to investigate, analyze and make recommendations in response to electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utility rate requests. Section experts make recommendations to the Commission through pre-filed testimony and oral testimony subject to cross-examination during public evidentiary hearings.

Section members also investigate, analyze and make recommendations in response to electric and natural gas energy efficiency proposals, and lead in Staff’s development of various other economic analysis and regulatory issues, including distributed energy resources, net-energy metering, and time-of-use rates.



Audits

The Audits Section Staff contribute accounting expertise across all utility industries. Section members investigate, evaluate, and make recommendations on accounting issues in assigned dockets, primarily general rate cases, formula rate reviews and other cost recovery proceedings. Section experts make recommendations to the Commission through pre‐filed testimony and oral testimony subject to cross‐examination during public evidentiary hearings.

Section members may also conduct compliance audits of utilities with approved adjustment clauses, perform special project analyses, conduct general and special issue audits and investigations, and provide technical evaluations and responses to address inquiries from the public.



Legal

Attorneys on the General Staff represent the Staff in proceedings before the Commission and contribute legal expertise in the investigation, evaluation, and development of Staff recommended positions in all proceedings before the Commission.

Staff attorneys may also serve a dual role in representing the Commission in matters and proceedings outside the Commission as needed, such as appellate cases and appearances before federal regulatory agencies.



Consumer Services

The Consumer Services Section Staff work with customers to answer questions and resolve complaints about the rates and services of regulated utilities. Staff members review all complaints for compliance with Commission rules and approved utility tariffs and act as liaisons with utilities in resolving customer complaints. This Section also provides educational brochures and materials and makes group presentations as needed.

Another responsibility of the Consumer Services Section is customer service audits of utility policies and procedures to identify opportunities for improvements and recommendations are often made to ensure compliance with Commission rules.

Section members may present their findings and recommendations to the Commission through pre‐filed expert testimony and oral testimony subject to cross‐examination public hearings.

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