WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday to review the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and consider fair competition concerns regarding utility affiliates, according to the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC).

Since the Senate recently repealed the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), PHCC and other trade associations have been forced to seek other legislative options to address fair competition. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he plans to offer an amendment to the FTC reauthorization bill that would provide the agency with the authority to investigate utilities that engage in cross-subsidization practices with service affiliates. Wyden plans to propose several questions to FTC witnesses regarding the fair competition issue.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) also reports that it and the National Alliance for Fair Competition have been successful in gaining the support of Senate members to allow the FTC to check unfair competition by public utilities operating with the unfair advantage of ratepayer subsidies in private sector markets.

Publication date: 07/15/2002