In the Matter of a Review of the Missouri Public  Service Commission’s Standard of Conduct Rules and Conflicts of Interest Policies

Ex parte rules prohibit parties from having private meetings with regulators during a formal, contested case.  To avoid this prohibition, utilities often meet with commissioners before filing a formal application, say for a rate increase or a merger.  In Missouri, this practice drew public scrutiny.  At the request of the commission chairman (but not with input from him), I presented this document.  I argue that pre-filing meetings can advance the quality of regulation and therefore should not be banned; but I raised concerns that the differential in resources between utilities and consumers needed to diminish so that the advantages of pre-filing meetings did not favor utilities.  I also cautioned regulators against allocating their listening time in proportion to parties' resources.