NY Assembly Passes Bill Limiting Ex Parte Communications in PSC Adjudicatory Proceedings

The New York PSC lacks effective rules prohibiting ex parte contacts, typically made between utilities and the regulator without notice to parties. Today, the New York State Assembly passed a bill to limit ex parte communications in Public Service Commission (PSC) adjudicatory proceedings. According to the Memorandum in Support of the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Marc S. Alessi:

These amendments to the public service law will prohibit ex parte communications with the public service commission by parties of pending adjudicatory proceedings. This will provide for notice to all parties to have the opportunity to participate in the communications of a pending proceeding. In order to ensure the integrity of adjudicatory proceedings is not compromised, a party can not be allowed to communicate directly or indirectly in connection with any proceeding while it is pending.

The bill, A4888,

  • would prohibit ex parte communications with fact-finders and decision makers in adjudicatory proceedings,
  • would require the PSC publicly to file any communications it receives through ex parte communications,
  • would require the PSC to provide the information it received to other parties, and
  • makes violation of the rule subject to stiff penalties under Section 25 of the Public Service Law.

Other states, such as California, have laws and rules limiting ex parte communications with state utility regulators and administrative law judges. California also has “sunshine” provisions requiring all parties to be notified of the substance of any ex parte communication with decision makers, as do federal utility regulatory agencies such as the FCC and FERC. For example, see the Rules of the California Public Utilities Commission on ex parte contacts.

California has additional rules for ex parte contacts in utility rate cases, which are considered quasi-legislative and not adjudicatory.

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