Much at Stake With CPUC Elections Bill

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Aug. 15, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A proposed constitutional amendment to create an elected California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) would fundamentally change the way the CPUC conducts business, and not to the benefit of industrial users.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 6 (Jim Battin, R-La Quinta) would create an elected CPUC, consisting of seven commissioners elected by district.

Replacing appointed commissioners with elected commissioners would politicize the CPUC and adversely impact the quality of CPUC deliberations. The commission workload and ability to meet deadlines would be impacted as well, with commissioners forced by political necessity to spend time away from their commission duties, raising campaign funds and running for re-election.

Additionally, the election of commissioners by district would pit regions of the state, and the service territories of the investor-owned utilities services, against each other, as opposed to the current system where commissioners serve at large and represent the interests of all ratepayers across the state.

SCA 6 was temporarily put on hold last month by the Senate Appropriations Committee when it placed the measure on the fiscal "suspense file. Legislation is placed on the "suspense file" when the fiscal impact of a bill exceeds $150,000.

The next committee action will take place early next month when the committee will vote whether to keep the bill on "suspense" or move it along to the next step in the process: the Senate floor.

The present method of appointing commissioners, subject to Senate confirmation, with each commissioner representing the broader interests of all ratepayers is preferable to the politicization of the Commission that would inevitably result with the enactment of this proposed constitutional amendment.
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