Social Media Utility Round Up

by Carolyn Elefant on December 3, 2012

in Social Media in Regulated Utilities

It’s been a while since my last  round up on social media sightings in state utility commission decisions.  Here’s the next batch, between May and November 2012.

Social media sites as a source of securities law violations

In Mountain State Power , 2012 Ariz. PUC LEXIS 197, the Arizona Commission found that wind company had violated various securities laws when it solicited investors for a wind farm that it didn’t own and failed to register as a salesperson of securities.  Evidence against the company included an ad on Linked In in which the company advertised for investors.

Social media and privacy

In August 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission extended privacy protections concerning customer usage data for gas customers.  The privacy rules established are similar to those already adopted for electric corporations and electric customer data.

Social media and outages

In August 2012, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control completed its review of utilities’ performance in Hurricane Irene and discussed the role of social media in crisis communications. While endorsing use of alternative mechanisms such as social media, the Commission found that maintaining a website with storm specific and emergency information is still vital – and that a Facebook page set up in lieu of a web page was not an adequate substitute.

Social media customer education

Both the  Massachusetts and  Kentucky  approved use of various social media tools to educate customers on and promote energy efficiency and demand response programs.  Meanwhile, the Kentucky Commission also  approved use of social media by an energy cooperative to disseminate information about its prepay utility program.

So that’s it for the social media round up. Still not many cases; my sense is that some regulators still don’t fully understand the power of social media while more encouraging, those who do are willing to allow social media practices to develop from the ground up before regulating it.

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