2007 -- H 6577

Enacted 06/23/07



H O U S E  R E S O L U T I O N




     Introduced By: Representative Arthur Handy

     Date Introduced: June 23, 2007




     WHEREAS, Rhode Island consumers are currently afforded very little recourse and have

few resources available to them when asserting or filing complaints against Public Utilities in the

state; and 

     WHEREAS, In 1966, the General Assembly created the “Consumers’ Council,” enacted

into the Rhode Island General Laws §42-42-1 through 42-42-7; and 

     WHEREAS, The scope and powers of the “Consumers’ Council” included investigation,

protection, and representation of Rhode Island consumers in complaints regarding Public Utility

entities and matters before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC); and 

     WHEREAS, In 1993, Public Law 138, Article 63, repealed R.I.G.L. 42-42, thereby

abolishing the “Consumers’ Council.” At the time, the General Assembly sought to eliminate a

duplication of efforts that existed between the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit and

the “Consumers’ Council” as delineated in the General Laws; and 

     WHEREAS, In addition, Rhode Island General Law §39-1-17 titled “Public Utilities and

Carriers” states that the “Consumers’ Council” is deemed an “interested party” in all inquiries or

examinations “of any matter wherein tariffs, rates, or charges for or the cost of or the quality,

standard, or extent of any service or commodities are requested...”. Unfortunately for Rhode

Island consumers, who have a complaint against a Public Utility, and who should be afforded

this protection, the “Consumers’ Council” no longer exists; and  

     WHEREAS, Evidence of the General Assembly’s intent to have the Attorney General’s

Consumer Protection Unit handle future consumer protection issues regarding public utilities

within the state is found in the provisions of Public Law 138 that stated “all agreements in effect

between the Consumers’ Council, its clients and their creditors at the time of the council’s

dissolution shall remain in effect and valid, and shall be administered by the consumer protection

unit of the Department of the Attorney General”; and  

     WHEREAS, The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit has not taken up this

function, and currently does not represent consumers before the Public Utilities Commission on

issues regarding the rates and services of utilities as was provided for in the Public Law; and  

     WHEREAS, Resultantly, the entity that is statutorily responsible for protecting the rights

of consumers regarding complaints with the public utilities and issues before the PUC no longer

exists and the consumer protection entity that does exist, does not perform these functions; now,

therefore be it  

     RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and

Providence Plantations hereby respectfully requests the Office of the Attorney General’s

Consumer Protection Unit to advocate for consumers concerning any complaints with public

utilities operating in the State of Rhode Island and in matters before the PUC; and be it further 

     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to

transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the Attorney General of the State of Rhode