BILL TO SUNSHINE CPUC RECORDS APPROVED BY COMMITTEE

Legislation to ensure entire Commission assigns cases to be considered this afternoon

SACRAMENTO – On a bipartisan 3-1 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation to ensure the public release of all accident reports that are filed with the CPUC or generated by the commission.

SB 1000, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would also require the CPUC to revise its rules and regulations related to public access of records as well as make improvements on the commission’s website to ensure greater transparency of investigations, tests, and other reports.

“Californians have a fundamental right to know how their government is working,” said Yee. “SB 1000 ensures that members of the public have access to safety-related documents that affect their families.”

Most documents at the CPUC are shielded by a secrecy statute passed in 1951 and a Commission rule adopted in the mid-1970s.

“If the San Bruno disaster has taught us anything, it is that we need to be vigilant in ensuring utility companies are not endangering our communities,” said Yee. “The CPUC is supposed to be there to protect us and not act as a barrier to public access.”

Holding the CPUC accountable

Later today, the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications will consider SB 1403 to bring much-needed accountability to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Under current statute, cases investigated by the CPUC are assigned to various commissioners by the president of the Commission. In some instances, such as the recent San Bruno disaster investigation, the president may even assign the case to himself/herself despite potential conflicts of interest. In addition, CPUC staff currently only reports to the president and not the other four commissioners.

Yee’s bill will require a vote of the entire Commission before assigning cases to specific commissioners. The legislation will also require CPUC staff to report and be accountable to the full Commission and not just the president.

“This is a consumer protection bill that will not only help hold the CPUC accountable, but it will empower the other commissioners,” said Yee.  “There is no rational reason for the power to be so exclusively held by the CPUC president.”

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008