16 U.S. Code § 2632 - Consumer representation
(a) Compensation for costs of participation or intervention
(1) If no alternative means for assuring representation of electric consumers is adopted in accordance with subsection (b) of this section and if an electric consumer of an electric utility substantially contributed to the approval, in whole or in part, of a position advocated by such consumer in a proceeding concerning such utility, and relating to any standard set forth in subchapter II, such utility shall be liable to compensate such consumer (pursuant to paragraph (2)) for reasonable attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs incurred in preparation and advocacy of such position in such proceeding (including fees and costs of obtaining judicial review of any determination made in such proceeding with respect to such position).
(2) A consumer entitled to fees and costs under paragraph (1) may collect such fees and costs from an electric utility by bringing a civil action in any State court of competent jurisdiction, unless the State regulatory authority (in the case of a proceeding concerning a State regulated electric utility) or nonregulated electric utility (in the case of a proceeding concerning such nonregulated electric utility) has adopted a reasonable procedure pursuant to which such authority or nonregulated electric utility—
(3) The procedure adopted by such State regulatory authority or nonregulated utility under paragraph (2) may include a preliminary proceeding to require that—
(A) as a condition of receiving compensation under such procedure such consumer demonstrate that, but for the ability to receive such award, participation or intervention in such proceeding may be a significant financial hardship for such consumer, and
(b) Alternative means
Compensation shall not be required under subsection (a) of this section if the State, the State regulatory authority (in the case of a proceeding concerning a State regulated electric utility), or the nonregulated electric utility (in the case of a proceeding concerning such nonregulated electric utility) has provided an alternative means for providing adequate compensation to persons—
(1) who have, or represent, an interest—
(2) who are, or represent an interest which is, unable to effectively participate or intervene in the proceeding because such persons cannot afford to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs of preparing for, and participating or intervening in, such proceeding (including fees and costs of obtaining judicial review of such proceeding).
The State regulatory authority or nonregulated electric utility, as the case may be, shall make transcripts of the proceeding available, at cost of reproduction, to parties or intervenors in any ratemaking proceeding, or other regulatory proceeding relating to rates or rate design, before a State regulatory authority or nonregulated electric utility.
(d) Federal agencies
Any claim under this section against any Federal agency shall be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.