The Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate was established by the General Assembly in 1976 to represent the consumers of Pennsylvania in matters involving their utility service.
The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) is a state agency that represents the interests of Pennsylvania utility consumers before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), federal regulatory agencies, and state and federal courts. The OCA was created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1976 and is an independent office within the Office of Attorney General.
The OCA is led by a Consumer Advocate and has a staff of Attorneys and Regulatory Analysts who represent consumer interests in cases and proceedings before the PUC. In addition, OCA’s Consumer Service Representatives and Consumer Liaisons offer assistance and consumer education to the public. Administrative and Clerical Support Staff support the work of all members of the office in fulfilling the OCA’s mission.
Our office is available to help consumers who have questions or problems with their electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water or wastewater service.
Under Pennsylvania law, the Consumer Advocate is nominated by the Attorney General and must be confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate. Patrick M. Cicero, Esquire was appointed the Acting Consumer Advocate by Attorney General Josh Shapiro on December 13, 2021 and nominated for the position on March 30, 2022. Patrick was confirmed as Consumer Advocate by the Senate on June 7, 2022. Patrick has spent his legal career representing the interests of consumers in Pennsylvania in the areas of utility, consumer, and housing law. Immediately prior to his tenure as Consumer Advocate, Patrick served as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc., where he provided strategic leadership and oversaw the advocacy, fundraising, and management of Pennsylvania’s coordinated network of legal aid organizations serving low income households and victims of domestic violence. You can learn more about Patrick’s professional experience by viewing his resume. Patrick is a life-long Pennsylvanian. He attended college and law school in the state and currently lives in Mechanicsburg with his family.
To view OCA’s Leadership History, click here.
PA Office of Consumer Advocate
555 Walnut Street
5th Floor Forum Place
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1923
Toll Free: (800) 684-6560
Main Number: (717) 783-5048
The OCA represents the interests of consumers in cases before the PUC involving a wide range of utility issues. These include rate increase cases, energy supply and purchased gas cost cases, retail competition issues, mergers, and alternative regulation plans. The OCA is involved in rulemakings, policy statements, and state and federal cases concerning either the price consumers pay for vital utility service or the quality of service they receive. The OCA generally stresses the interests of residential consumers.
The OCA works to keep utilities from charging more than they need to provide safe, reliable, and adequate service to consumers. The OCA also works to ensure that rates remain affordable and that programs exist to help low income and vulnerable households remain connected to essential utility service. The OCA can appeal a PUC final decision if it believes the decision is in error and is harmful to consumers. The OCA has filed many appeals from PUC decisions. Some have gone as far as the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts.
Laws and policies concerning utility service to consumers are changing rapidly. In the past, most consumers could only choose one company for their electric, telephone or natural gas service. In recent years, both state and federal lawmakers and policymakers have opened many areas of the utility industry to competition. The OCA is the consumer’s voice in these policy debates and in the cases resulting from these policy changes. The OCA’s goal is to have all Pennsylvania consumers benefit from these changes and to make sure that consumers are protected as these changes occur. The office has actively participated in the legislative and policy debates surrounding utility competition and has been involved in cases regarding competition in the electric, natural gas and telecommunications industries in Pennsylvania.
The OCA can help a consumer or a group of consumers with utility questions or concerns. Consumers may have problems with their utility bills, their quality of service or they may need help in getting utility service provided to their homes. Consumers may be facing loss of their utility service or have questions about a competitive energy supplier.
The OCA responds to all consumer contacts, answers questions and attempts to resolve consumer disputes with utility companies.
Pennsylvania consumers can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the OCA’s toll-free call center at 800-684-6560. Members of OCA staff respond to all customer contacts by providing information or by otherwise helping consumers resolve their complaints and concerns with their utility provider.
The OCA educates consumers and the public on utility issues through its participation in many forums, seminars, community meetings and through the use of social and other media. The office’s website at www.oca.pa.gov has tips, testimony and other educational information. The OCA also publishes Residential Electric and Natural Gas Shopping Guides. They provide “apples-to-apples” price comparisons for alternative suppliers in each utility’s service area.
If you are a community group, community leader, or government official and would like an OCA staff member to give a presentation or speak at a community meeting please contact us through our Contact page or via email email@example.com.
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