Stihl Dealer Days

Rural Missouri Magazine

Our Public Counsel

by Frank Stork

Most consumers in our state will never meet Martha Hogerty. She is the Missouri Public Counsel, the state's consumer advocate in the area of utility regulation.

The Office of the Public Counsel was established in 1974 as an independent agency to represent the interests of utility consumers in proceedings before the Public Service Commission and the courts. Their office is located in the old Governor Hotel building in Jefferson City.

Martha and her dedicated staff do an excellent job with limited resources. Besides keeping abreast of the rapid changes occurring in the utility sector, they are advocates for high-quality utility service at affordable rates.

Many large industrial and commercial utility customers retain counsel to represent their particular interests before the Public Service Commission. The Public Counsel staff stays focused on residential and small business customers whom otherwise would not have their views represented.

The Public Counsels' staff consists of attorneys, technical experts and administrative staff. These experts offer comments and expert testimony on feasibility and affordability when utility proposals come before the PSC, the courts and our state legislature. Because of limited staff, they focus on those issues that have a sweeping effect on public policy.

That consumer focus found the Public Counsel appearing before Missouri Senate and House committees earlier this year. Martha Hogerty was there firmly and effectively pointing out the positive and negative aspects of legislation which would change the corporate structure of the state's electric utilities. She was, of course, speaking from a consumer point of view.

You can be assured that consumers are well represented whenever legislators ask her for the "consumer" point of view.

Consumer interest about electric utility deregulation legislation remains high in our state. All of us who work on legislation in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., are constantly asked about the status of state and national proposals.

My response to those who worry about Missouri becoming another "California" is one of reassurance. That response remains firm because our legislators in Jefferson City are taking a responsible approach to each initiative.

The "consumer's interest" has always been and continues to be the focus of our state legislators as they debate this controversial issue. Any attempt to rush to judgment will be slowed by Martha Hogerty and others who represent the interests of smaller energy users. Residential and and small business users of electricity in our state often refer to Hogerty and her staff as "our" public counsel.

Stork is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

 

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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