Advocacy awards from the Utah Committee of Consumer Services were given to nine recipients at a special ceremony Friday in the State Capitol.
The committee is a public utility consumer advocate group representing residential, agricultural and small business interests during rate hearings before the Utah Public Service Commission.Recipients of the fourth annual awards were state representatives Beverly White, D-Tooele, and Rob Bishop, R-Brigham City, Sen. Glade Nielsen, R-Roy, the Utah Public Service Commission, Donna Gordon, Coryell Answering Service, the American Association of Retired Persons, Margo Hovingh and Jeff Williams. The awards were presented by Felshaw King, chairman of the committee's board.
White has been a representative since 1971 and has been a supporter of the Committee of Consumer Services. She was recognized for her efforts the past year in helping the committee initiate a study of the state's heat energy assistance program aimed at helping low-income people.
Bishop, a representative since 1979, was recognized as a "longtime friend" of utility consumers. He was cited as a strong committee supporter and recognized for his opposition to local measured telephone service and the effect it could have on the community life of his constituents in Box Elder County.
Nielsen, a second-term senator, was recognized as a "legislator who does what he thinks is fair and in the best public interest." He was singled out for his handling of debate over last year's SB50 involving proposed telephone deregulation. He was praised for not bowing to pressure and conducting thorough and fair hearings on the bill as chairman of the Senate's State and Local Affairs Committee.
The Public Service Commission was given the "Best Consumer Achievement of the Year" award for ordering a $26 million decrease in Utah telephone rates. This followed a $9 million reduction ordered earlier. This is the second time the PSC has been honored. The first time was in 1985 when it rejected a $27 million interim rate increase request from Mountain Bell.
Gordon was praised as a "true citizen-activist." A resident of Willard, Box Elder County, Gordon has been involved in seeking "fair and equitable" telephone service for her area.
Coryell Answering Service, Ogden, was recognized for the efforts by owners Pat Coryell and Ron Turpin on behalf of small businesses to win fair and equitable treatment involving telephone service. They have been involved in appearances before the PSC, the Legislature, various chambers of commerce and city councils and in various professional organizations. They were active in 1988 in opposing telephone deregulation proposals that raised concerns among many operators of small businesses.
The AARP has long been involved with utility issues and was among the first groups to insist on strong consumer advocacy. The organization's demand for representation is credited in part for the formation of the Committee of Consumer Services. The AARP was also active in the debate over telephone deregulation proposals and conducted an active campaign against deregulation.
Hovingh, a committee staff employee, was called the committee's "secret weapon" in receiving her recognition. She was praised for working quietly and effectively for the agency and for being the committee's goodwill ambassador with the Public Service Commission and the regulated utilities. "In the process she has helped keep communication channels open when feelings were less than amiable."
Williams, the committee's staff economist, was the committee's main policy witness in the merger hearings involving Utah Power & Light Co. and Pacific Corp. He was praised for the groundbreaking effort on what was called "the" major event in the history of Utah's electric utility industry.