San Jose Mercury News: Fix CPUC NOW!

4 Feb

Read this story at

The links below work – click on “MORE: PG&E, OTHER PUBLIC UTILITIES” and get more up-to-date stories regarding the San Bruno investigation and other utility news.

Mercury News editorial: PUC may require Legislature’s intervention

Mercury News Editorial

POSTED:   02/03/2015 03:27:00 PM PST




The California Public Utilities Commission has not come clean on the extent of its improper relationship with PG&E. Not even close.

 The 65,000 emails released last week by the utility it purports to regulate make this painfully clear — and make it all the more important to fully disclose everything that has gone on in the past to assess what to do moving forward.
Perhaps none of the three current PUC members who were involved in regulating PG&E after the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion should remain. To determine that, PUC members should voluntarily release all of their emails to or about PG&E to show the extent of their relationships.

So should former PUC President Michael Peevey, who is under investigation by the attorney general’s office — but we’ve given up expecting him to do the right thing. Same for Gov. Jerry Brown, who continues to defend Peevey despite his unethical conduct.

Fortunately, the Legislature can step in. Lawmakers can remove a commissioner with a two-thirds vote. They should exercise that power on any PUC members who do not release all emails to prove they’re up to the job.
And they should remove Commissioner Michael Florio now.
We called for his resignation in 2014 after emails disclosed he intervened on behalf of PG&E in the debate over allowable pressure for a gas pipeline in San Carlos. Florio warned PG&E that the governor’s office might try to broker a compromise. Then he wrote, “Amazing how I’ve become an apologist for PG&E in just three short years, isn’t it.”It sure was. So are the latest disclosures such as the November 2012 email from Florio to former PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry, who later was fired for inappropriate interactions with the PUC. Florio shows off just how chummy he is with the folks at PG&E by whining to Cherry about being assigned to supervise a PG&E rate hike proposal, writing: “I did NOT ask for this! Fortunately, for all concerned, we have good experienced administrative law judge in Tom Pulsifer. Can’t you protest or something???”

Florio admits to inappropriate conduct but maintains that “any objective review of my voting record at this commission will demonstrate that I have shown no partiality to PG&E or any other regulated utility.” Not really. What did he do to influence what showed up on agendas for a public vote?

In January, new PUC President Michael Picker said he wanted the agency to be more transparent, accessible and responsive to the public. Even though he hasn’t been president for long, releasing his own email interactions with all California utilities would demonstrate the type of leadership that’s been lacking for a decade.

Evidence of improper and unethical conduct continues to ooze out of the PUC, email by email, like seepage from a cracked pipeline. Let’s not wait for an explosion. Fix the agency now. If members can’t prove themselves worthy of public trust, clean house. If the PUC itself or the governor won’t do it, the Legislature needs to step in.

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