U&C Chair Pushes CPUC Reform

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

Capitol Update, March 7, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno), in remarks to the CMTA Energy Committee on Thursday, March 6, outlined her plan for reform of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Reyes, who took over as Assembly Utilities and Commerce (U&C) Committee Chair last fall, is overseeing the work of three working groups that are developing plans for possible bills relating to CPUC reform and energy agency reorganization. She has instructed the working groups to "have something ready to go by April."

Reyes has conducted a number of informational hearings relating to CPUC oversight and functions, and has repeatedly expressed frustration with the Commission's inability to meet deadlines and unwillingness at times to follow legislative mandates.

The U&C Committee has introduced three "committee bills" that will likely be used
as the legislative vehicles for the working group's efforts:

AB 1733, a "technical clean-up" bill relating to utility procurement. Reyes has expressed serious concerns about the CPUC's implementation of last year's AB 57 (Wright), which established a framework for utility procurement.
AB 1734, relating to investor-owned utilities' energy efficiency budgets. This is a legislative vehicle to address Reyes's and others' concerns about the CPUC administration of energy efficiency programs.
AB 1735, requires the CPUC to resolve a ratesetting or quasi-legislative case within 18 months (per SB 960, a reform bill enacted by the Legislature several years ago) unless the CPUC makes a written determination that the deadline cannot be met, including findings as to the reason, and issues an order extending the deadline.

Additionally, the U&C Vice Chair, Assemblyman Keith Richman, M.D. (R-Northridge), has introduced AB 808, which would consolidate the energy agencies into a newly-created Energy Department, which could be used as a legislative vehicle for the working group's agency re-organization discussions.

At the CMTA Energy Committee meeting, Reyes lamented the lack of regulatory responsibility at the CPUC, which she believes is one of the factors that led to the energy crisis in 2001. Thursday's meeting also provided CMTA Energy Committee members with an opportunity to express their concerns about regulatory instability, the burden of high electric rates, and the cost of doing business in California.
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