A "culture of corruption" at California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
Alarming report exposes (once again) troubling conflicts of interest for the California Public Utilities Commission
A report by CalWatchdog, published on October 19, 2011, exposes deeply troubling flaws in the makeup of the current California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It asserts that the horrific San Bruno Pipeline explosion on September 9, 2010, in San Bruno California, would have -- and should have -- been prevented if the CPUC had been doing its job monitoring Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
According to the article, "After years of approving rate increases earmarked for the San Bruno pipeline upgrades, the CPUC never followed up to make sure that PG&E actually did the work. Instead, PG&E pocketed the rate increases, shined on the pipeline upgrades and kept going back to the CPUC trough for additional rate increase approvals."
The accusation is especially disturbing because among the eight people killed in the explosion was, Jackie Greig, a regulatory analyst with CPUC's own Division of Ratepayer Advocates and her 13-year old daughter, Janessa (see obituary).
PG&E took millions of dollars to fix faulty pipelines, and didn't repair them
A study of CPUC documents by the San Francisco Examiner, shows that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customers have been charged multiple times for more than two dozen natural-gas projects that were never even implemented. PG&E customers were forced to pay $320 million for natural gas improvements in 2008, and then were asked to pay another $313 million for those same projects in 2011.
Now, even though PG&E has received hundreds of millions of dollars at ratepayer expense -- signed, sealed and delivered by CPUC -- to repair its poorly maintiained pipelines, the utility wants its customers to pay for 90% of the costs of preventing another San Bruno disaster in the future. Turn, The Utility Reform Network has issued a statement that PG&E will actually earn profits from the disaster at San Bruno.
According to another report by the San Francisco Examiner, there is a "revolving door" between CPUC and the utilities it regulates. Chief among them is "Exhibit A" Michael Peevey. Peevey is President of the commission. He is also the former president of Southern California Edison - a utility he is now responsible for regulating. Both UCAN and TURN, The Utility Reform Network, have asked Mr. Peevey to recuse himself from voting on utility issues where he has a conflict of interest. Among Mr. Peevey's many outrageous pro-utility decisions was one that reimbursed PG&E for money it allegedly lost when it replaced old electric meters with Smart Meters. According to Peevey, the meters (which eliminate the need for costly meter readers) still had a "useful life."
Equally alarming is the fact that Mr. Peevey's wife, Carol Liu, received almost $90,000 in campaign contributions from companies regulated by Peevey's CPUC during her successful 2008 run for the California Senate.
CPUC's top attorney is Frank Lindh, is also a former employee of the utilities he regulates.
As CPUC's General Legal Counsel, it is Mr. Lindh's job to ensure enforcement and safety of his former employer ... Pacific Gas & Electric.