Our Public Counsel
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.
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.
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.
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.