SEATTLE - Attorney General Rob McKenna is pleased to announce that Simon ffitch, division chief of the Attorney General's Public Counsel Section, has been appointed to serve as a consumer representative on the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service. ffitch was nominated for the position by the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) and the appointment was confirmed by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin on Friday, Sept. 28.
"This is a great honor for Simon," said Attorney General McKenna. "During this new era of reform for the Universal Service Fund, Simon will provide an important voice for consumers."
The Universal Service Joint Board was established by Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It serves in an advisory capacity to assist the Federal Communications Commission with implementing the universal service provisions and policies of the federal act. This includes financial support for telecommunications companies in high-cost areas to keep their rates affordable, expanding access for schools and libraries to advanced telecommunications technology, support for rural health care telecommunications technology and low-income rate assistance.
The board consists of three FCC commissioners, four state regulatory commissioners and one consumer representative designated by NASUCA. ffitch will continue to serve as the chief of the Public Counsel office during his appointment.
Customers pay for the Universal Service Fund by means of a fee on their phone bills. Concern has grown recently about the size and sustainability of the fund and the board has proposed that the FCC impose a cap on the fund while proposals for fundamental reform are considered.
“This position gives customers a seat at the table for some very important decisions on universal service policy,” ffitch said. “I look forward to joining the joint board in this challenging work.”
The Public Counsel Section advocates for the interests of consumers on major utility rate cases, mergers and other rulemakings before the state Utilities and Transportation Commission. Public Counsel also advocates for consumers in court appeals, through technical study groups and before the Legislature and other policy makers. The office maintains contact with the public through a citizen advisory committee, community organizations, public hearings and personal contact with consumers in major cases.
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Editor’s Note: The spelling of Simon ffitch is correct – the surname begins with two lowercase f’s.
Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, AG Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432
Simon ffitch, Public Counsel Section Chief, (206) 389-2055
John Perkins, President, NASUCA, (515) 281-7021
Charlie Acquard, Executive Director, NASUCA, (301) 589-6313