Consumer Advocate Division v. Tennessee Regulatory Authority

1998 Tenn. App. LEXIS 428 (1998)


NGC filed a petition requesting a general increase with the Public Service Commission in its rates for natural gas service. The rates would produce an increase of $9,257,633 in revenue. P filed a notice of appearance. D, a new agency created by the legislature, replaced Public. D laid down the procedure by which it would accept the jurisdiction of matters previously filed before the Public Service Commission. D orally approved a general rate increase for $4,400,000 in new revenue. D then filed its written order adopting the oral findings. P argues in part that D violated the section prohibiting ex parte communications during a contested case proceeding, Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-304. This allegation is based on the P's suspicion that members of D's staff had taken part in an investigation of NGC, had prepared a report for D, and had continued to communicate with NGC and relay that information to D's members. P moved to discover what was described as a report from the staff that augmented or boosted the position of one party or the other. D moved to deny the motion. D claimed a right to have privileged communication with a member of his staff for the purpose of understanding issues and analyzing the evidence in the many complicated proceedings that D has to hear. P’s motion was denied.