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The U.S. Department of Transportation's Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will audit the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to judge its ability to carry out pipeline safety, according to the City of San Bruno, which has been battling the CPUC. In September of 2010, explosion of a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) killed eight people, injured more than 100, and destroyed more than 100 homes. This week, the CPUC proposed a $300 million fine and additional penalties of more than $1.9 billion against the utility. But San Bruno complains of cozy relationships and conflicts of interest between CPUC officials and PG&E. San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane renewed his call for the firing of CPUC President Mike Peevey for activities such as ex parte contacts with PG&E. Said Ruane, "Finally, federal regulators are investigating what we believe to be serious ethical and political conflicts at the CPUC that have rendered this state agency largely unable to perform its duties."

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eastlaker July 20, 2013 @ 7:34 a.m.

I am glad someone is taking this seriously.

We carry one from day to day, depending upon regulatory agencies and the various authorities that are supposed to be doing their jobs.

Maybe this will help to instill some responsible thinking and behavior for those in charge.

However, I still wonder about actual charges of negligence--obviously many people weren't doing their job, and many more were looking the other way.


Don Bauder July 20, 2013 @ 3:46 p.m.

eastlaker: Congresswoman Jackie Speier said, "The CPUC appears to be rife with conflicts of interest between its role as a guardian of public safety, its role as a rate setter, and its role in ensuring the ongoing financial stability of the utility." The CPUC worries the most about the last-named -- profits of the utilities. And that's not just true of the San Bruno incident. It's true on matters affecting SDG&E, too. Best, Don Bauder


CaptD July 20, 2013 @ 3:26 p.m.

The role of the CPUC is to oversee the Public Utilities to insure that the ratepayers get a fair deal from what is actually a public monopoly.

As it stands now the CPUC has done little more than reward the shareholders of California's Utilities with record profits while making ratepayers pay of the highest energy rates in the USA!

If the CPUC was replaced with real public advocates, California ratepayers would have energy bills that are just a fraction of their current amount and all of us would be enjoying ever more clean and safe solar energy from instillations on our own rooftops because we could get paid for our unused energy at the same rate that the Utilities pay themselves for the energy they generate, instead of yet more Utility owned plants that keep us all in energy slavery!


A Most Important Article about why Solar is such a threat to all US Utilities and especially SCE. I think of it as a Fiscal/Energy War for market share: Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf


Don Bauder July 20, 2013 @ 3:49 p.m.

CaptD: So true. The CPUC is fixated on the financial health of the utilities. But what about the safety and financial health of ratepayers? Best, Don Bauder


CaptD July 20, 2013 @ 4:32 p.m.

Ratepayers should call upon SCE and SDG&E to request that the CPUC authorize them to repay residential and commercial solar generation at the exact same rate that the Utilities pay themselves for the same energy they generate at the time the energy is being generated.

This Level Energy Tabulation System (LETS) will insure that ratepayers not just shareholders are treated fairly and it will also encourage as many as possible to install rooftop new solar due to the reduced payback period because of the higher Energy payments for non-Utility energy being added to the grid, which we all pay for as a separate charge!

The CPUC should also immediately double the financial limitations currently in place in order to qualify for energy Upgrades, so that even more low to moderate income ratepayers can take advantage of the millions of dollars already collected and are now just sitting unused in an CPUC Energy Upgrade account; further the CPUC must insure that the previous high costs of administration of this energy up grade program is reduced to 10 to 15% of the actual amounts of the energy upgrades installed instead of the current 50% costs which are no longer acceptable. By helping all ratepayers secure access to safe and reliable lower cost energy by producing it themselves, the CPUC can fulfill its stated Mission:

The California Public Utilities Commission serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy. We regulate utility services, stimulate innovation, and promote competitive markets, where possible, in the communications, energy, transportation, and water industries.


Don Bauder July 20, 2013 @ 5:03 p.m.

CaptD: The reality is a long way from the stated mission. Best, Don Bauder


Twister July 20, 2013 @ 5:51 p.m.

ALL "public" fiefdoms which answer to no one, not even the legislature (e.g. CPUC and port districts) should be dissolved and replaced by entities which answer to We, The People. And "we" should have our own extra-governmental "watchdogs" to keep them at heel (am I inverting metaphors here?). Of course, "we" will then have to have watchdogs to watch the watchdogs, ad infinitum. Citizenship. An informed electorate.

Uh, oh--somebody's gonna cite UCAN . . .


Don Bauder July 20, 2013 @ 9:45 p.m.

Twister: The CPUC is too independent from voters -- no question. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh July 20, 2013 @ 7:50 p.m.

I wish I had some faith that the feds have the capability and willingness to stare down the governor and his PUC in a deep blue state and tell him that the state regulators aren't doing their job. The more we trust government to keep us safe and to keep us from being ripped off, the more disappointed we will be. The real relief from the crooked CPUC is in the ballot box. A gubernatorial candidate who will run on (among many other things) a reform of the CPUC, can be elected, and the problem will soon be corrected. Anyone who thought that Brown, with his past record as governor, would be the solution to ANYTHING, was deluded.


Don Bauder July 20, 2013 @ 9:48 p.m.

Visduh: Brown has done many good things, such as getting rid of redevelopment agencies (although they could crop up in another form), but he has been a disappointment in other areas. He appointed some good people to the CPUC but we haven't seen the results. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel July 20, 2013 @ 11:19 p.m.

response to donbauder, The individuals that Gov. Brown has appointed to the CPUC may indeed be good people. I can't say personally because I don't know them. However, in my opinion, they have been absolutely horrible in their roles as commissioners. I will cut Carla Peterman a slight break since she was only named in December and still unconfirmed by the senate, I believe. But the other three appointed 2 1/2 yrs ago, at least from my point of view over the last 18months or so, have done nothing to show the are on the side of the consumer. More to the point, to me I think they have quite adequately proven that they have simply fallen in place to follow the "company line" as it were. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The more things change, the more it's just business as usual. Good people, maybe. But good commissioners? Not even close!


Don Bauder July 21, 2013 @ 6:44 a.m.

danfogel: I think it is wise to cut Carla Peterman some slack. She may well turn out to be a person who will sincerely try to push the CPUC's bias in the direction of consumers, instead of utility stockholders. Meanwhile, Michael Peevey must be sent out to pasture. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel July 21, 2013 @ 4:41 p.m.

reply to donbauder, I have 2 comments. First, I first moved to San Diego in June of 1976, shortly after you arrived, I believe. I'm a morning paper guy, so I started reading the union and read your writings many times. I left San Diego almost 20 yrs ago and after most of the last 10 yrs away, have only returned to southern California less than 2 yrs ago. So since you've been here longer than I have, let me ask you this. I the close to 40 yrs that you have been in San Diego, has the cpuc EVER been as screwed up as it is now? Has it ever been so blatantly pro utility, and not just in electricity, as it is now? Admittedly, I am sure I didn't even know what the cpuc even was when I was a teenager and really didn't start paying attention until about 20 yrs ago. So as I said, you tell me, has it always been this f*cked up, or is it a more recent phenomenon? Second, my reasoning for cutting Peterman an ever so slight break is only due to the fact that she has so little history to review as a cpuc commissioner, meaning not much negative OR positive at this point. However, I firmly believe that she will not be the person to moves the cpuc bias away from utilities and towards consumers. I was not impressed by her performance while at the CEC; no worse than anyone else, but no better either. and secondly, I have questions regarding EPIC. I observed both workshops last year in Los Angeles and was not impressed. With the cpuc administering the funds from EPIC and Peterman now a cpuc commissioner, I would expect some accountability on her part but have seen none. And, perhaps of even more significance, she is one vote of 5. The other 4 are firmly on the gravy train. Can you see her turning any 2 of them back from the dark side? I don't and in my opinion, I see her falling in lockstep with the others as a faits accomplis, we just haven't seen it yet. Only my viewpoint, and an admittedly narrow one in terms of time, but I haven't found anything to dissuade me from that viewpoint.


Don Bauder July 21, 2013 @ 7:25 p.m.

danfogel: The CPUC has varied with the political climate. There have been very good years -- that is, pro-consumer -- during political reform periods. I can remember times when Wall Street considered California a bad regulatory environment -- that is, it was not favoring shareholders over ratepayers, as it does now. I still believe in giving Peterman more time to prove herself. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 21, 2013 @ 9:54 a.m.

Twister: The CPUC is organized -- it's just organized in the wrong direction. Best, Don Bauder


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